Peace of mind in schools thanks to ventilation approach
Does our ventilation protect against the coronavirus? Can it be improved upon? If so, how? These are questions often put to our Customer Manager, Kevin Breden nowadays. Together with our experts he provides advice and support. In this blog he speaks about the assistance provided to an educational institution with over fifty secondary schools.
When the coronavirus outbreak occurred, we, as customer managers, put our heads together. We sensed unrest in the market among building owners and managers. This is why we appointed someone dedicated fulltime to their corona issues. A ‘Covid-19 expert’ able to clearly explain what is required to make buildings as corona-proof as possible. I am now working with this expert for various customers, including a large educational institution.
Providing an overview of possible actions
This educational institution asked us to investigate whether its ventilation was corona-proof. And if not, to improve it. Not just in one school, but in all of the dozens of school buildings we manage for them. A large job that we started off with by providing information. Before doing anything else, we wanted to give schools insight and clarity.
In a brief document, we highlighted the various interventions we were capable of implementing without having to install new equipment. We also indicated what the schools could do for themselves. Furthermore, we answered some frequently asked questions, such as: ‘Do the filters need to be replaced?’ (no) and ‘Are we allowed to use an air impact wrench?’ (yes). The schools consider this very useful and posted the list on their intranet. They are also sending us additional questions that we use to regularly update the list.
That schools offer the safest and most comfortable learning environment possible; I am happy to contribute to that!
Running equipment faster or turning it off
It was not left with just an information briefing. Our service technicians visited every school. They assessed which interventions were actually needed, and carried out the ones that were our responsibility. If the ventilation equipment brought in clean air, we turned them on for longer periods of time and faster; from eight to twelve hours per day and from 80 to 100 percent. The exhaust systems in washrooms were also adjusted to the highest setting and were set to exhaust dirty air 24/7 from now on. Furthermore, caretakers were advised to keep windows and doors open as long as possible.
By contrast, a number of systems had to be turned off. For example, the conspicuously high number of ‘recirculating systems’ we encountered. This is because these systems suck out the air from an area and subsequently blow it back in again. While this keeps the temperature inside at a comfortable level, it does not provide for fresh air and promotes the spread of the coronavirus. The latter also applies to high-pressure spray guns and leaf blowers. Some schools used these inside, for example, for cleaning. Our recommendation: stop doing this.
Installing new systems in schools
Our Covid-19 expert often accompanied the service technicians to the schools. Definitely when the school required an easily understood explanation or was not yet convinced of the need for implementing the necessary measures. This way we assisted every school in creating a safe learning environment, without the need of having to immediately install new technology or making other large investments.
Some schools required more interventions than others. The same will apply in the future to technological upgrades. We have not yet started with this: installing a new ventilation system in a school can increase air quality and safety, but at the same time is a drastic, costly and time-consuming undertaking. At the request of the educational institution, we first map out which upgrades are required to produce optimal results. This includes cost estimates. Not only for the buildings we manage, but for all of its schools.
Peace of mind through a clear story
In part on the basis of our overview, the institution determines whether or not to install new systems. But even if it decides not to, we are positive about this process. Not least because of the response of the schools. Thanks to us they know where they stand with their air quality and what has been done to make their building as corona-proof as possible. They need this clarity to be able to alleviate concerns on the part of parents and students. Our approach therefore resulted in better air quality and a safer learning environment, as well as peace of mind. And schools are at least as happy with that.