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Healthy Green Schools & Colleges pilot gives low-or no-cost measures to improve IAQ

Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) and Green Seal recently announced a pilot Healthy Green Schools & Colleges certification standard to support school facilities leaders in identifying and implementing low- or no-cost measures that make a significant difference in facilities indoor air quality.

The pilot standard, said to be the first of its kind, is publicly available for any school district or university to use today to improve air quality in their school facilities. 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.

Green Seal and HSC launched National Pilot Standard for school facilities air quality

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. The full Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program, including self-assessment tools, educational resources, a peer network and certification opportunities, will be available this Spring.

The pandemic has made creating healthy school environments an urgent national priority and brought to light the significant under-investment in school facilities nationwide. This national standard fills a critical gap to provide schools with the resources and network to ensure a quality of school facility that every student in America deserves.

Doug Gatlin, CEO of Green Seal.

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.

Rochelle Davis, President and CEO of Healthy Schools Campaign.

This standard is such a big deal for our field of work. The goal for all of us in this line of work is to provide a clean, green, healthy space for our staff and school communities. Now we have an actual document to go by, monitor, and adjust as needed to meet those goals.

Lazell Ofield, Director of Custodial Services and Warehousing of Kansas City Public Schools.

What we need most of all right now is support. The way I see it, this standard guides us and brings us together to make healthier, safer, more sustainable decisions.

Jodi Krause, Assistant Director of Housekeeping for Residence Hall Facilities at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.
Healthy Green Schools & Colleges standard

The first-of-its-kind standard for healthy and sustainable facilities management was designed in partnership with the award-winning 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 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 school district or university 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;
  • 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; and
  • Communication to encourage cleaning staff, management, school building administrators, employees, and students to practice clear, effective, and equitable communication to develop trust.
Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program

The standard will be the centerpiece of a comprehensive program launching this spring to support school facility management (FM) professionals in transforming the health and sustainability of school campuses. First, a self-assessment tool will allow schools to objectively measure their current indoor environmental health and sustainability performance, while guidebooks, trainings and tools will help facility professionals determine and take the next steps.

Then, the standard’s points-based scoring system encourages schools to keep improving at their own pace, with support from a network of FM peers across the country who are on a similar journey. Schools that reach the top level of achievement can apply for third-party certification, earning public recognition for their verified expertise in providing healthy school environments.

The Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program is a partnership between the Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) and Green Seal, combining HSC’s extensive experience working with leading school facility directors and Green Seal’s globally recognized credibility in science-based standard development. Healthy Green Schools & Colleges provides school facility leaders nationwide with resources to transform the health and sustainability of school and university environments without making major capital investments. The multifaceted program includes education, certification standards and implementation guidelines; a network to accelerate the adoption of best practices, and recognition of the leaders who achieve success.

Learn more about the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges standard and program on the group’s website.