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Antiquated school facilities can lead to internal air quality problems that aggravate respiratory illnesses and reduce student and teacher performance, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Two scientific systematic reviews1,2 concluded that inadequate building ventilation is associated with the increased risk of transmission of respiratory infections, including COVID-19 and many others. Several studies3,4,5 have also found that fresh air is critical for keeping students alert and healthy, while spaces with low ventilation rates are associated with lower average daily attendance, slower speed in completing tasks, and higher rates of suspension. In addition, extensive research compiled by the 21st Century Schools Fund also linked school facility deterioration to negative impacts on both student and teacher performance. These health and safety problems disproportionately impact schools in disadvantaged communities serving low-income student populations, which also suffer from dirtier outdoor air and are less likely to have dedicated facility managers.
To better support schools, especially those with low-income student populations, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a new adoption campaign to enable school facility upgrades that create healthier spaces for learning and maximize energy efficiency to improve resilience and reduce school utility expenditures. Through the Efficient and Healthy Schools campaign, schools can access technical assistance, peer sharing, recognition and targeted resources to enable investments in their facilities.
 Li, Y. (2007). Role of ventilation in airborne transmission of infectious agents in the built environment – a multidisciplinary systematic review. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1600-0668.2006.00445.x
 Luongo, J. C. (2016). Role of mechanical ventilation in the airborne transmission of infectious agents in buildings. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26562748/
 Mendell, M. J. (2005). Do indoor pollutants and thermal conditions in schools influence student performance? A critical review of the literature. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1600-0668.2004.00320.x
 Fisk, W. J. (2017). The ventilation problem in schools: literature review. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ina.12403
 Brink, H. W. (2021). Classrooms’ indoor environmental conditions affecting the academic achievement of students and teachers in higher education: A systematic literature review. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ina.12745
This Fellowship will involve collaborative opportunities with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Commercial Buildings Integration program and U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award, as well as broader work at the U.S. Department of Education regarding climate leadership, school infrastructure, health, and environmental learning.
BTO’s Commercial Buildings Integration (CBI) program seeks to deploy a range of innovative building technologies and solutions, to produce significant energy savings, greenhouse gas emissions reductions and save businesses money. CBI partners with a diverse set of stakeholders to produce simple, straightforward, intuitive and actionable resources, strategies and tools to be shared through ongoing industry engagement and innovative programming.
The aim of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is to inspire schools, districts, and institutions of higher education (IHEs) to strive for 21st-century excellence by highlighting promising school sustainability practices and resources that all can employ. To that end, ED-GRS recognizes schools, districts, and IHEs that: reduce environmental impact and costs; improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and provide effective environmental and sustainability education.
Preferred qualifications include: