Today, Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) and Green Seal launched a pilot standard for healthy and sustainable school facilities that focuses on measures that can make a big difference without major capital investments.
This is the first national standard focused on healthier school facilities, and it is publicly available for any school district or university to use today to improve air quality.
This standard is the centerpiece of a comprehensive program to support school facility management professionals in transforming the health and sustainability of school campuses. The full Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program — including self-assessment tools, educational resources, certification opportunities, and a peer network — will launch this Spring.
The 9 school districts and 10 colleges and universities that signed on as Early Adopters during the development of the pilot standard will now begin formally implementing it to provide data and advice on thresholds for certification levels. It’s not too late for your school to participate – sign up here to test the standard and advise us on next steps.
An Issue of Urgency and Equity
The pandemic has made creating healthy school environments an urgent national priority and brought to light the significant under-investment in school facilities nationwide. But this challenge pre-dates the pandemic, with nearly half of schools reporting indoor air quality problems prior to 2020.
Unhealthy indoor air, inadequate ventilation, and chemical exposure from cleaning and maintenance routines are linked to poor concentration and test performance in students. These conditions are disproportionately found in schools serving primarily low-income Black and Latinx students, making this an important issue of equity.
The Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program is designed for any school district or university that commits to providing safer and healthier indoor school environments, whether they are just getting started on this path or already are leaders.
A Standard by and for School Facility Professionals
The first-of-its-kind standard was designed in partnership with the K-12 and university facility directors on the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges Steering Committee and with input from early adopters, stakeholders, and the public. It is designed to be implemented district-wide or university-wide to ensure an organization-level commitment to standard operating procedures, resource distribution, and facility maintenance that supports the health of all students and staff, as well as the environment.
The Healthy Green Schools & Colleges standard addresses major impact areas and covers the full range of facilities management practices, including:
- Cleaning and Disinfecting to reduce exposure and injury risks to cleaning staff; reduce the risk of virus transmission; reduce exposure to environmental health hazards; and support student health needs.
- Integrated Pest Management to protect occupants from environmental health hazards and improve the indoor air quality of school facilities.
- Sustainable Purchasing to ensure that school district purchases reduce negative environmental and human health impacts and help reduce the spread of infectious disease, while also delivering effective functional performance.
- HVAC and Electric Maintenance to ensure proactive, preventative, planned, and reactive maintenance for all installed HVAC devices and fixtures to maximize their period of usefulness and improve the indoor air quality of school facilities.
- Indoor Air Quality Testing and Monitoring to ensure processes, procedures, and tools are in place to monitor indoor air quality, while balancing the impact of HVAC on energy consumption and helping to identify opportunities to improve indoor air quality in schools.
- Training to ensure cleaning and maintenance personnel work in the safest and most effective manner possible and receive appropriate training to promote health, safety, sustainability, sanitation, and minimize the spread of infectious disease through their work.
- Communication to encourage cleaning staff, management, school building administrators, employees, and students to practice clear, effective, and equitable communication to develop trust.
The standard is the centerpiece of a comprehensive program launching this Spring 2022 to support school facility management professionals in transforming the health and sustainability of school campuses.