TORONTO, October 24, 2022 /CNW/ – Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario schools have certainly had their share of ups and downs. From student cohorts to online learning and then back to in-person learning, the past two years have proven to be a roller coaster of new experiences.
There seems to be a silver lining to all this chaos with school districts investing in Clean Air for Schools, a program designed to:
- improve ventilation and purification in under-ventilated schools, and
- Reduce energy and carbon in overventilated schools, improving the health, well-being and performance of teachers, students and staff.
The Clean Air for Schools (CAFS) Programa collaborative initiative launched in March 2020 between NERVA Energy, Mohawk College and Climate Change Leaders just hit a milestone, serving more than 1,000 schools and 550,000 students, teachers and staff.
The program focuses on rehabilitating duct infrastructure and sealing ductwork from the “inside out” to virtually eliminate duct air leaks, resulting in greater airflow to classrooms and campuses.
“Duct leaks are a significant problem that is largely overlooked in large installations. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) estimates that most commercial buildings experience air duct leaks of 10-25% This requires HVAC systems to run harder and longer than necessary, resulting in sub-optimal airflow, higher utility costs and a larger carbon footprint.” said Joshua Lewisa recognized energy consultant and recipient of the International Energy Innovator of the Year award.
The Clean Air for Schools program allows participating school boards to dramatically increase airflow without the need for costly mechanical upgrades or lengthy building downtime.
“The return on ventilation for air quality and the avoidance of associated costs through duct sealing has been a significant added value for our organization. Beyond the short and long term benefits of the work tied to cleaner air in our schools and better environments for students and staff, I’m really interested in next steps that explicitly engage our students as climate change leaders, in an adaptive way. to say that experiential learning in the fields of energy management and conservation, as well as environmental sustainability, will provide the opportunity for student leadership and advocacy. …and that is exciting for us,” said Pino Buffondirector of education, having carried out 24 projects with duct sealing and HVAC optimization. “We look forward to saving energy and reducing our carbon footprint with this technology.”
Mohawk College acts as a research and validation partner for the Clean Air for Schools program. “This program has been a vital resource for school boards to address mechanical inefficiencies and underserved duct infrastructure that can lead to suboptimal airflow” said Tony Cupidholder of the Mohawk Research Chair, Sustainable Building Technologies, adding that “With rising natural gas prices and the federal carbon tax in play, we are considering using duct sealing as a strategy to reduce energy waste. By optimizing HVAC and enforcing duct sealing ducts, schools and campuses can expect to reduce energy consumption by 15% and GHG by 25%.
“Nerva Energy has demonstrated some expertise in this area. The results of duct sealing and HVAC optimization have increased airflow in schools – the results speak for themselves“, says Dominique Maniccia, Facility Services Manager, for the Grand Erie District School Board. The council has deployed duct sealing in twenty schools with an average airflow increase of 30%. “Grand Erie is pleased with the improved airflow for occupants of these schools and sees the potential benefits for other councils to explore this proven technology,” added Domenic.
With over 100 projects completed to date, the Clean Air for Schools program has provided participating schools with an average 30% increase in airflow, a 15% reduction in utility costs, and a 22% reduction in GHG emissions.
“We believe that achieving quantifiable improvements in ventilation provides parents, teachers and students with much-needed confidence and peace of mind.” said Rob Hallewick, president of NERVA Energy and co-founder of the Clean Air for Schools program.
Tim CreswellTCI CEO and climate change leaders added “More than a dozen school boards have joined the program since its inception, and while there is still a lot of work ahead of us, we are thrilled to see education leaders taking a proactive and resourceful approach to improving the well-being and potentially reduce carbon in schools”.
The social and educational benefits of in-person learning are very clear, however, concerns about the ventilation of classrooms and how this might affect student health and performance remain a pressing issue. World Green Building Council produced a series of indoor air quality briefing notes outlining the factors that affect the health, well-being and performance of students and staff.
As communities continue to deal with the ripple effects of the pandemic, it is encouraging to see school boards working vigorously to provide improved ventilation and healthier teaching and learning environments for students, teachers and staff.
About NERVA Energy and Clean Air for Schools
NERVA Energy is an award-winning energy consultancy that helps clients maximize their energy performance by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As co-founder of the Clean Air for Schools program, NERVA is approved by the Ontario Collaborative Educational Marketplace (OECM) to provide duct sealing services, including auditing, optimization and validation of the ventilation. To learn more, visit: www.cleanerairforschools.com.
About Thomas Cole Inc. and Climate Change Leaders
Founded in 2000, Thomas Cole Inc. (TCI), Clean Air for Schools Partner and Founding Partner of Climate Change Leaders, advises on the most effective path to net zero. The CCL is a learning partnership with Mohawk College and ten school districts designed to transform school buildings into a carbon-neutral model while connecting experiential learning for students. Learn more about our experience here.
About Mohawk College
Mohawk College educates and serves more than 29,500 full-time, part-time, apprenticeship and international students at three main campuses in Hamilton, Ont.. Mohawk is among the top 10 colleges in Canada for applied research. He was named one of from Canada greenest employers seven years in a row, holds a GOLD STARS rating from AASHE for its sustainability achievements, and is home to the nation’s largest and first institutional building to receive dual certification for design and performance of the zero-carbon construction framework for the Joyce Center for Partnership & Innovation.
SOURCENerva Energy Group Inc.