Three Ways Schools Can Fund Indoor Air Quality Investments Today
We know you want to get students back into classrooms as safely and as quickly as possible — and keep them there safely — and we want to help you through this monumental effort.
The EPA reports that investments to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) of classrooms is an important part of maintaining a healthy indoor environment. Yet, realistically, budgets are tight and improvements require funds. Administrators and boards are faced with making the best learning environment IAQ investment in the teachers’ and students’ wellness in the short and long term.
Here are three key types of funding options to consider:
- Latest Stimulus Funding: The latest stimulus funding, (referred to as COVID Relief Funding under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021), highlights both the importance of and the need for additional resources to make critical IAQ improvements. The Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER II) Fund funding guidelines specifically identify “facility improvements to reduce the risk of COVID transmission and indoor air quality projects”[i] as an allowable use of funds. Each state has different requirements, timing and processes. Stay tuned – there are a number of other government funding allocations under consideration now.
- Grants: There are grant-funding options to consider, including those that are offered through the U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other government organizations. Some states also have remaining Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) funding.From a funding standpoint, many of these federal agencies received increases in funding for 2021 under the Consolidated Appropriations Act[ii]. Timelines for obligation of 2020 funds, especially from the U.S. Department of Education, have been extended[iii]. So there is still time to pursue these.
- Private Funding: In addition to private financing, some energy service companies also offer private funding. Trane® recently introduced Integrated Funding Solutions (IFS), a new low-cost financing option that requires no-out-of-pocket expenses or down payments for qualified districts, as well as manageable, flexible financing structures and payments. This private funding can provide a way to stretch and optimize governmental funding.
How to Make it Happen
While these funding options offer incredible opportunities, trying to single-handedly assess how to best to improve the academic environment – and be a good financial steward – can prove daunting and even overwhelming.
When identifying your IAQ partner, look for an energy service company (ESCO), such as Trane, that focuses on your school’s desired goals and outcomes. Make sure the ESCO is ready to provide you with a holistic approach that will identify the right solutions to improve your air quality and sort through funding options that work best for your school.
Indoor air quality, especially in schools, will likely remain in the spotlight for years to come. Now is an ideal time to make sure your buildings are as healthy as they can be now and in the future.
Learn more about how optimizing your school’s HVAC system can help address health risks.
Additional Helpful Links
· Learn more about the Education Stabilization Funds under COVID Relief December 2020
[ii] Rules Committee Print, 116-68, Text of the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R.,133, pages 18 and 19
[iii] Rules Committee Print, 116-68, Text of the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R.,133, page 84