PETERBOROUGH — Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders and Director of Facilities Tim Grossi wish to share an update about the enhancement of the HVAC systems for all the district’s buildings that were made in preparation for when students return to indoor classrooms in the coming days.
Over the last two weeks, the Lawson Group performed an independent evaluation of all HVAC systems in the district in order to ensure the buildings are in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ventilation guidelines for schools as the fight against COVID-19 goes on. That report is expected to be finalized by the end of this week.
The district sought this evaluation to ensure the safety of indoor classrooms for staff and students, who will continue to utilize outdoor learning spaces as long as weather permits. With snow and colder weather in the forecast for this week, the tents, which cannot withstand a snow load, will likely begin to come down this week and students will begin to learn indoors in the next couple of days.
Enhancements that were made to the HVAC systems for the 2020-21 school year include:
- Installing ionization units in the ductwork of all HVAC units in the district, which emit positive and negative ions that kill mold, bacteria and viruses, greatly improving air quality.
- Maximizing outside air circulation throughout the day for all classrooms and school wings so air changes in classroom spaces and within the school approximately four to seven times per hour. This programming will start up and shut down three hours before school starts and four hours after school ends for the day, respectively.
- Installing upgraded filters which capture particles in a variety of sizes, including many viruses and allergens. This was done by installing new MERV 11 filters that capture 65-79% of particulate 1-3 microns in size and at least 85% of particulate 3-10 microns in size and larger.
Some of the other upgrades that have been been made since 2008 include:
- Upgrading all preventive maintenance plans to ensure HVAC systems are operating per manufacturers recommendations.
- Utilizing flow hoods to balance air flow for all rooms when installing or recommissioning HVAC units, ensuring that all rooms have an adequate air supply to meet the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards.
- Utilizing Demand Control Ventilation processes by installing carbon dioxide sensors so that outside air can be brought into each classroom throughout the day as required.
- Automating all equipment operations so that trend readings can be accessed remotely and operating times can be scheduled and adjusted as needed.
- Utilizing an additional FLUKE air meter to allow staff to double check and monitor carbon dioxide levels and temperature throughout the building independently.
“Air quality is something that we have been improving upon for years and continue to do so with the health of our students and staff in mind,” Grossi said. “We will continue to monitor our systems to see if there are any additional upgrades or improvements we can make in preparation for students to return to their indoor classrooms.”
The district first began to make upgrades in 2008. Since that time, approximately 90% of all the equipment has been replaced. In 2010, building automation systems were installed, which allowed for remote monitoring of temperature, carbon dioxide and humidity levels in most areas within each school.
The remaining upgrades are expected to be finished this fall, ahead of when students begin to utilize indoor learning spaces, so that the district’s HVAC systems will be 100% automated. This means that the building can be monitored remotely, times of operation can be scheduled, temperature and carbon dioxide sensors can be set to trend data and parameters can be set to alert facilities staff automatically if a problem arises.
More information about the work and enhancements the district has made can be found here.
“Thank you to Tim, our HVAC specialist Keith Lee and the facilities team for identifying and implementing these improvements for our district prior to the start of the pandemic so that we were able to complete all remaining upgrades this fall,” Superintendent Rizzo Saunders said. “This work is just one of the ways we are working to create learning environments that protect the health and safety of our students and staff. This remains our top priority in all that we do throughout the district.”
Those looking for more information or who may have questions may contact Director of Facilities Tim Grossi at [email protected].