Three Reasons To Take Action To Improve IAQ In Your School
When we think about schools, we think about a place that offers a safe learning environment that fosters productivity and growth, with the aim of maximizing the potential of students. Over the years, though, data shows that the outdated infrastructure of the nation’s schools may be affecting the learning and productivity of students and educators.
A 2020 national survey by GAO found that 41% of districts need to update or replace HVAC systems in at least half of their schools (approximately 36,000 schools nationwide). [i] As buildings age and deteriorate, the more susceptible they can become to experiencing maintenance issues, which can include problems with indoor air quality (IAQ), temperature and occupant comfort.
Poor air quality inside schools can have consequential impacts on learning, attendance and the productivity of students and school staff. While the effects of IAQ are not a new concept, the pandemic created a renewed focus on the air inside classrooms.
For many schools, taking steps to improve IAQ can seem daunting and costly, but bettering the air in classrooms can help provide students with a better learning environment that fosters productivity and improves attendance.
1. Cleaner Air Helps Create A Better Learning Environment – Studies show that indoor pollutants can sometimes be two to five times higher inside buildings than outside.[ii] Poor IAQ has been linked to triggering or worsening asthma, respiratory infections, headaches, cough, sore throat and fatigue, all of which can impact student learning.[iii]
2. Reduce Absenteesim – Student and staff attendance is critical when it comes to academic performance. Improvements to your school's IAQ, along with temperature and comfort, may help reduce some of the major contributors to absenteeism. When students are absent from school, they miss out on valuable instruction and activities, which can cause major setbacks at school. IAQ-related absenteeism from educators may also cause disruptions, impacting the learning of entire classrooms.
3. Help Improve Productivity Among Students And Teachers – A growing number of studies show that improving IAQ and ventilation rates inside classrooms can enhance concentration and academic performance, helping better support both students and educators. One study found a statistically significant association between ventilation rates and performance in standardized tests, with an improvement of 14% to 15% in math and reading when ventilation rates were increased inside classrooms.[iv]
Other research has shown that dramatically improving indoor air quality can significantly impact reasoning and productivity.[v]
For the many schools in need of HVAC upgrades, gaining access to funding to address IAQ can be the biggest challenge in getting started.
Fortunately, over the past two years, the federal government has made an unprecedented amount of funding available for districts to invest in school infrastructure. In March of 2021, as part of the American Rescue Plan, a historic $122 billion was allocated to K-12 schools to create healthier learning environments for students following the pandemic, building on the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the COVID Relief Package, which collectively made $57 billion available to address school improvements.
The appropriation of these funds allows K-12 schools to take immediate action to address IAQ through inspections, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects.
Don’t know where to start? From detecting upgrades to deciphering the funds your school or district is eligible for, Honeywell can help you navigate through each step. Our experts have helped schools throughout the country secure federal funding and other forms of financing.
Honeywell’s Healthy Building Services program helps school facility managers track and improve IAQ, overall building health and the well-being of occupants. Contact us today to find out how we can help improve your school's IAQ.
[i] United States Government Accountability Office, K-12 EDUCATION School Districts Frequently Identified Multiple Building Systems Needing Updates or Replacement, June 2020 [Accessed Aug. 12, 2022]
[ii] Environmental Protection Agency, Why Indoor Air Quality is Important to Schools, December 9, 2021, [Accessed July 13, 2022]
[iii] Environmental Protection Agency, How Does Indoor Air Quality Impact Student Health and Academic Performance? [Accessed July 13, 2022]
[iv] Environmental Protection Agency, Student Health and Academic Performance, November 2012, [Accessed July 13, 2022]
[v] EHR Executive, Better Air, More Productivity? Julie Cook Ramirez, January 15, 2018, [Accessed July 13, 2022]