Archive for the ‘Indoor Air Quality’ Category

SM Local 88 helps pass indoor air quality bill for Nevada schools

On June 3, 2021, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law new comprehensive legislation aimed at assessing and improving air ventilation and filtration systems in schools across the state.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 257, requires all public and charter schools in Nevada to assess and upgrade (if needed) their HVAC and filtration systems once federal money already allocated for this purpose becomes available at the state level.

The new state law requires that assessments be performed only by “certified technicians” accredited by one or more of the following programs:

  • Nevada State-recognized Apprenticeship Programs
  • Associated Air Balance Council (AABC)
  • National Environment Balancing Bureau (NEBB)
  • Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (TABB)

“With fire and life safety, and now with indoor air quality, members will have more opportunities to branch out into other aspects of being a sheet metal worker to increase hours and market share,” said SMART Local 88 Business Manager Jeff Proffitt.

The most-recent Nevada legislative session was like no other, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing restrictions. The state legislature meets for 120 days every two years. This session, no lobbyists were allowed in either legislative building throughout the first 90 days of the session, and all meetings, hearings and testimony were conducted virtually.

Ahead of implementation of the new legislation, Local 88 members had already been working to help improve indoor quality in schools in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and has the largest school district in the state.

“One of our signatory contractors has been installing global plasma ionization systems in the nursing stations of Clark County School District during 2021, and a select few new construction school projects,” Proffitt said.

Raising standards for indoor air quality — the SMART way

If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has done, it has sharply highlighted decades of neglect of indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools. Despite its importance, poor ventilation in schools is a widespread, persistent problem. Students, parents, and teachers should enter a classroom knowing they are safe. General ventilation requirements for schools already exist, but those requirements have failed to ensure adequate ventilation due to the lack of explicit guidance on the procedures and steps to ensure compliance.

Numerous independent studies have found that the vast majority of classrooms fail to meet minimum ventilation rates.

Numerous independent studies have found that the vast majority of classrooms fail to meet minimum ventilation rates. This is not just a problem in older systems, but also in newer classrooms where ventilation levels are below the minimum required rates, including exceeding safe carbon dioxide levels. One of the nation’s larger school districts recently reported that 1 of 10 students and faculty have asthma. Researchers recommend periodic testing of HVAC systems and continuous real-time CO2 monitoring to detect and correct these problems.

The persistence of inadequate ventilation rates is of particular concern as states and provinces in the United States and Canada look to fully reopen schools and remove mask mandates this fall as vaccination rates increase in both nations.

Enter SMART and the industry-leading professionals at the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), who have developed processes and systems to improve IAQ in schools, hospitals and buildings. The Ventilation Verification Program is a critical tool to make sure the air in schools, offices and other indoor spaces is safe to breathe.

The Ventilation Verification Program is a critical tool to make sure the air in schools, offices and other indoor spaces is safe to breathe.

The program outlines the steps that must be taken to make sure HVAC systems are operating properly. At the same time, SMART is pushing the federal government to adopt the program in its procurement policies, guidance and standards. SMART General President Joseph Sellers and SMART staff have met with agency heads and senior agency staff at the Department of Energy, Department of Education, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Council on Environmental Quality, Office of Management and Budget, General Services Administration and the White House about this issue and have spread the word to anyone and everyone, from Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) on up.

At the end of May 2021, a SMART member participated in the first roundtable held by the Department of Education for school employees about school reopening. This was an important opportunity for us to talk about our work on IAQ in schools and push the Department of Education to issue specific IAQ guidance that follows the steps outlined in the Ventilation Verification Program.

SMART is not stopping there. We’re building widespread support for this issue. We’ve been meeting with stakeholders to develop diverse and broad support and share our resources. Groups include the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, American Federation of School Administrators, National School Board Association, National PTA, the Actors’ Equity Association and Democratic Municipal Officials.