Transcription of the episode “Air quality in schools: At the intersection of technology and equity”

Amy H-L: [00:00:15] I’m Amy Halpern-Laff. 

Jon M: [00:00:16] And I’m Jon Moscow. Welcome to Ethical Schools. Our guests today are a Anisa Heming and Corey Metzger. Anisa Heming is the Director of the Center for Green Schools of the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Corey Metzger is the Lead of the Epidemic Task Force Schools Team of ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. In April, the Center for Green Schools and ASHRAE issued a report on schools’ efforts around the country to protect against COVID-19 by improving indoor air quality. The report found that the pandemic has further entrenched inequities in the funding of K-12 education and infrastructure. Welcome.

Corey M: [00:01:05] Thank you.

Anisa H: [00:01:06] Thanks for having us.

Amy H-L: [00:01:07] Let’s start with a brief overview of your two organizations. Anisa, what is the Center for Green Schools at the US Green Building Council? 

Anisa H: [00:01:16] So the US Green Building Council is a nonprofit that works to improve the way that buildings are built and operated and that community infrastructure is built and operated, to make it healthier for people and healthier for the planet. And the Center for Green Schools is the part of USGBC focused on preK-12 schools.

Jon M: [00:01:41] Corey what’s the Epidemic Task Force Schools Team at ASHRAE?

Corey M: [00:01:46] Sure. So in 2020, when it was clear that we had significant issues to deal with and that the indoor environment could be factor in hopefully reducing risk for transmission of the SARS-coV-2 virus, ASHRAE formed an epidemic task force. And that task force is made up of a number of teams, including a team that’s focused on schools and universities. So the schools and universities, or the schools team, which is what I serve on, along with a number of other teams. 

Amy H-L: [00:02:18] This spring, your organizations jointly issued a report called “Preparation in the Pandemic: How Schools Implemented Air Quality Measures to  Protect Occupants from COVID-19.” What is the significance of that report?

Anisa H: [00:02:26] We noticed in the fall of 2020 that there were a lot of recommendations that were being put out there for schools, what they should do to protect people from COVID and especially, you know, around, around the buildings and around air quality. But there wasn’t a lot of information about what schools were actually being able to implement on the ground. And so we, the Center for Green Schools, has a network of professionals at school districts that work on sustainability, energy, air quality, that sort of thing. And so those are a lot of the people that can give answers about what’s happening on the school and school district level. So we decided to work with ASHRAE to put out a survey to those folks and to ASHRAE’s contacts to figure out what was happening on the ground so that we could understand what the challenges were on the school district level, and really understand how we could make better recommendations and also how we can get resources to schools to do the kinds of things that need to be done to keep teachers and kids healthy. 

Jon M: [00:03:37] Beyond COVID-19

why is good indoor air quality important? 

Corey M: [00:03:44] I think that’s a really great question. There are a lot of reasons. I think there’s the short answer and the long answer is, you know, this virus is not the only airborne pathogen we’re worried about. So every year, for as long as we can remember, we’ve dealt with flu season and we’ve dealt with transmission of other airborne infections and that’s just been part of life. And we recognize now, especially from the steps that have been taken over the past year, you know, there was a nearly non-existent flu season, right. So the steps that we’re taking, and that’s not just steps to improve indoor air quality, there were other steps as well, but certainly that’s one of them, can have a measurable impact on transmission of airborne infections.

There’s also significant evidence that would suggest that student or worker performance improves when we have better indoor air quality and in particular, I guess, indoor air quality, but also indoor environmental quality. And Anisa can probably expand upon that. But from an air quality perspective, lower levels of carbon dioxide or other contaminants in the space may improve cognitive function. It may improve other performance aspects of occupants in the space. So we want to give kids the best opportunity they can to learn when they’re in the educational environment. And one of the ways that we can do that is providing good indoor air quality.

Amy H-L: [00:05:07] Anisa, how does air quality impact student performance?

Anisa H: [00:05:12] Yeah, there’s pretty good evidence out there that low CO2 levels can help students focus and retain information. So backing up a little bit, the CO2 levels are something that a lot of listeners might have heard being talked about related to air quality. It’s basically a pretty decent indicator of whether there’s air moving through a space, so whether you’re getting air exchanges and fresh air into a space. And so it’s something that we use to talk about better air quality. When you have low CO2, you can sort of usually assume that there’s fresh air being brought into a space, and that means that contaminants like particulate matter in the air and other sort of VOCs which are like things that smell and can affect your respiratory system. Those kinds of things are being flushed out of the space. So CO2 is not the only thing, but it’s a good indicator. And so when we talk about low CO2 levels being better in a space, it just means that there’s a lot of other things that are also being moved out of a space and keeping that air healthy for people as they’re in the, in the classrooms, trying to focus on teaching and learning. There are, as Corey indicated, there’s pretty good evidence of a couple of other aspects of the indoor environment that are impacting studentswhen they’re trying to take in information and work with each other and learn, and those include daylight. They include acoustics and background noise, and they include various aspects of air quality.

Jon M: [00:06:50] Just for clarification for listeners, could you talk a little bit about VOCs?

Anisa H: [00:06:55] Yeah. So VOCs are volatile organic compounds. They’re a whole class of chemicals that off gas from furniture, construction materials, things like that. Generally, they come from adhesives or paints and sealants and things like that. I mean, they’re  elsewhere too, but that’s a big source of  and they are, it’s like new car smell, right. It’s the sort of chemical ly smells that come off of new things. They are not good for us to be breathing on a regular basis. They can  affect our respiratory health, they can give people headaches, they can take away their ability to focus on what’s going on around them. So that’s the problem that we try to get away from when we talk about low VOC or no VOC materials in this space.

Amy H-L: [00:07:47] Have there been studies that share how these VOCs impact students’ ability to learn?

Anisa H: [00:07:53] There have been many studies about the impacts of the VOCs on people. A lot of the studies that we have from schools, in particular, focus on ventilation rates, and, and like I said, CO2 as kind of like a proxy for the cleaning out of the air in a space, most of the studies that we’ve seen related to air quality in classrooms, in particular, focus on ventilation and CO2 as kind of like a way to get at other things that might also be being flushed out of the classroom air.

Amy H-L: [00:08:28] Corey, what are ASHRAE’s main recommendations for indoor air quality improvement?

Corey M: [00:08:35] So when we started looking at everything last spring, we obviously were dealing with situations where we didn’t have all the information we wanted, but we knew that there were steps that could be taken to improve the indoor environment from a risk perspective for transmission of airborne pathogens. So we did a number of things. The epidemic task force produced multiple documents, one of which is focused on schools and universities. So we’ve got guidance for facilities and that’s a 40-something page document. I won’t try to bore you with every page of it, but I’ll try to cover the highlights. We also produced a core recommendations document that really focuses on the aspects of improvements that are common across all facility types.

So the first of those is to follow a public health guidance because we’re not physicians, we’re not epidemiologists. We aren’t experts in disease transmission. So we strongly encourage everyone to follow those recommendations. Beyond that, we think that steps that we take with our HVAC systems, or our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, can mitigate risk for transmission of airborne pathogens.

So one of the key steps that we’ve got in the schools document and in the core recommendations is making sure that your systems work, because we know that in many cases, systems don’t work the way they were intended. So we want school organizations to go through and just make sure things are doing what they’re supposed to. If it was supposed to bring in outdoor air, it’s still doing that. If it had filters in it, they’re still there and they they’re in good shape. That sort of thing.

The next section that we looked at was can we increase the amount of ventilation that we’re bringing into the building. We expect that outdoor air should be cleaner than indoor air, at least with respect to viral contaminants. It may not be the case always that the outdoor air is cleaner than indoor air from the perspective of other contaminants, and so that’s something that needs to be considered. But from the perspective of the virus, we are fairly confident that outdoor air is going to be better than indoor air. And we wanted to look at increasing filtration within the mechanical systems in space. So our target is to get to a minimum of a MERV 13. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. That MERV standard comes from an ASHRAE standard that defines the test procedure to determine how well a filter captures particulate. And we know that a MERV 13 filter can make a significant difference in how much particulate that would be the size range we’d expect to be carrying virus gets through the system and can be recirculated within space.

Looking beyond ventilation and filtration, we looked at the potential use of terminal air cleaners. So an in-room air cleaner could be portable. It could be fixed in place. Typically in that case, we’d be looking at HEPA filtration, although it could be something that’s MERV 13 or better for those devices as well.

And then a key thing that we want to look at for every space is air distribution. We want to make sure there aren’t strong drafts blowing over one occupant towards others, because we don’t know in the case of a virus, in particular, who’s infected and who’s not, so we don’t want to have a situation where we’re pushing air towards other space occupants and could be spreading the virus. There are multiple cases that we’ve seen where that did occur and studies have shown it fairly clearly.

So we want to look at, in addition to those steps, maintaining normal operations from a temperature and humidity perspective. If we try to bring in more outdoor air and create an uncomfortable environment and stress the occupants that could create a condition where their immune systems aren’t as effective as they would have been otherwise, we don’t want to do that. We want to flush spaces between occupancy periods so that if you’ve got a different group coming in, we can be confident that the air and the space is clean.

And then just really anything else we can to make sure systems are working the way that we want them to. So I may have been a little more long-winded than I intended. I apologize for that, but I hope that that provides a good baseline for the steps that we were looking at. And Anisa might be able to expand upon that from the perspective of the survey that was produced.

Jon M: [00:12:45] I had a question before we go on, which is, you mentioned MERV 13, which I’m sure a lot of our teachers are not going to be familiar with. Is it something that you would expect a building maintenance staff to be familiar with?

Corey M: [00:13:02] At this point, I would think most building maintenance folks have at least heard the term MERV 13 once or twice or a few hundred times, depending on where they are. A typical building, not a LEED certified building, or not in some states they have mandated that we go beyond MERV–well go to Merv 13 as a baseline. But in many cases, for schools and other commercial buildings, I would expect to have seen MERV 7, MERV 8  level filtration in most of the equipment prior to the past year. So there are some challenges that go along with going from a MERV 7 to  to a MERV 13, in many cases, not all, but many cases that increases pressure drop through the filters, and systems aren’t always capable of handling that additional pressure drop. As I mentioned, we don’t want to impact system operation. We don’t want to reduce air flow by adding pressure drop to the system because that reduction in air flow might result in poor air distribution in a space that then actually increases risk. So our recommendations have been to increase filtration where it doesn’t negatively impact the system operation otherwise.

Jon M: [00:14:11] And just a quick clarification again, for people may not be familiar. You  mentioned LEED certification, which obviously is a topic in itself, but would either of you give a very brief description of that.

Anisa H: [00:14:26] Oh, that’s me. The US Green Building Council developed LEED as a rating system. So that’s our parent organization. LEED is a rating system for green buildings. There’s one for building design and construction and another for operations and maintenance of a building. And it’s a basically a way to define what you mean by building green or operating in a green way. So it’s a menu of options, where you can get points for doing different strategies and then you submit documentation that our organization certifies to give some verification that strategies were implemented. 

Jon M: [00:15:04] Anisa,did you want to add to what Corey was saying? Or did you want to discuss what some of the major hurdles that schools encountered in implementing the strategies that they chose?

Anisa H: [00:15:17] Yeah. So the strategies that Corey shared are the recommendations that were coming from ASHRAE. We took those and we sort of cross-referenced them with some other pointers that were coming out from some organizations. And we narrowed it down a little bit to make sure that the survey was doable for our school staff because the survey was getting pretty extensive with all the things that we wanted to know about what was going on on the ground. So we picked out six of those recommendations that Corey was just talking about. 

In terms of bringing fresh air in through mechanical ventilation, we asked about just bringing in additional outdoor air. We also asked about a flushing process where you bring in a lot of fresh air before school opens and after school closes to sort of flush out what’s been going on during the day. So those are two. Three and four were to open windows to increase the flow of air. And number four was to place an exhaust fan or fans to pull the air out of the space. So not, as Corey was saying, not to blow it around, but to pull air out of a space. And recommendations five and six that we included in the survey were upgrading filtration within the mechanical system and  installing portable or in room air cleaners with filtration.

So we asked about those six strategies in particular. And we asked what the school’s priorities were. And then what they ended up implementing because we wanted to see if, you know, if things were highly prioritized, but then were not able to be implemented. That was something we wanted to understand. And then we also wanted to understand, okay, if that was the case, what got in the way of you implementing this thing that you wanted to implement in your schools but you weren’t able to. So what we saw was that the highest priority was put on  increasing outdoor air in the space, the two strategies that we put in the survey about increasing outdoor air. So a lot of school systems, were trying to just bring in a lot of outdoor air as students and teachers were in the space and also bring in a lot of outdoor air before and after the school day to kind of like flush out everything that was in the space.

So those two were the highest prioritized strategies and they were also the ones that were most likely to be implemented. The challenges where people weren’t able to implement things like that, and this is also came up in the filtration strategy, was that we have a lot of schools that are just not designed to have these strategies implemented. So this is a much deeper issue about the way that we fund school buildings and the needs that exist in our school facilities around the country. But the challenge that we saw was that school systems who wanted to implement  these things and had put staff time into figuring out how to implement them, in some cases, the buildings just were not designed to be able to bring in additional outdoor air or as Cory was just talking about with filtration, were not able to put in higher efficiency filters that might be able to filter out the particulate that could be carrying the virus. So that was pretty disturbing finding. Those of us who have been following the state of school facilities around the country are not necessarily surprised by that, but it is really frustrating for our school buildings, for certain people that work on the school buildings, because a lot of them know what needs to be done, but they just can’t do it.

Amy H-L: [00:18:57] Is this more about the buildings themselves and the fact that they’re just not modern enough to be able to be modified, or is it more about the inequities in the school funding?

Anisa H: [00:19:13] That’s a great question. It’s definitely a mix of factors. The buildings, Corey, I’m going to toss it to you to talk about sort of this, the different standards, the standards as they’ve evolved over time, right. So it’s part of the problem is that we have a bunch of old buildings and the old buildings just were built to a different air quality standard, because we didn’t know as much about air quality when they were built. So there’s that. And then there’s also the problem of not enough investment in our school buildings to make sure that they are working the way that they were designed. So in some cases, as we were talking about, these buildings could do what needs to be done. They are built to be able to implement these strategies, but they’re not operating like they were designed because they haven’t been maintained, because the school district just hasn’t had the money to do it, or because they haven’t had the expertise to do it or something like that. So they’re either they’re not operating like they should, or they weren’t designed in the first place to do what we know now keeps people healthy in spaces. 

Corey M: [00:20:21] I think there are a lot of factors that come into play from a building perspective, and every building is unique. So there’s not one answer that’s going to apply to all of them. But certainly as Anisa mentioned, we have codes and standards in place that we design buildings to. And ventilation is no exception. I expect that we will see in some areas changes to those ventilation standards. I can tell you I’ve been involved in quite a number of discussions on that. We’re still working on figuring out what it’s going to mean exactly. Because there, while we’ve learned a great deal in the last year, there are still a lot of unknowns and challenges. So schools, for example, are not built on the same budget that a hospital is built on, right. We have standards for healthcare environments that say we have to have a certain number of air changes per hour. And we have to put supplies in a certain location in some spaces and exhausts or returns in others, and we have to exhaust all air from certain areas. We don’t typically have those same requirements for school facilities, and it’s not because nobody cares about air quality in school facilities, but it’s because we haven’t dealt with maybe the same challenges in schools. So that’s one of the factors.

Another factor is that codes and standards have changed. And at one point the amount of outdoor air that was required and the levels of filtration that was required was lower than it is today. In fact, there are lots of school buildings that don’t have any ventilation. We know that a lot of those buildings are older and when they were built, there wasn’t a standard or a code or a requirement in place that they had to have ventilation. So the challenges in dealing with those facilities are significant. A lot of those buildings weren’t designed to have ventilation put in the floor to floor height or the structure isn’t well-suited to adding the amount of ventilation that we need today. 

There’s an entirely different discussion to look at for cooling and conditioning of those spaces, but I think the answer is complicated, no matter how we look at it. And the solution for each facility is likely to be different because they are all so unique. So certainly I think there are equity challenges, but there are technical challenges that go along with, with each facility and then there are maintenance challenges and that’s one that isn’t always a factor that is dependent upon other. It may not be a financial issue. It may be a lack of understanding. If I design a system that’s too complex to be maintained effectively and it gets implemented and then can’t be maintained, it may be the best system in the world until it fails, and it’s going to fail quickly if it can’t be maintained. So we have to be thoughtful about how we’re setting systems up and making sure that they can be maintained.

One last challenge. Many school districts deal with maintenance staffs. Their maintenance staff is also in charge of operating buses before and after school. And they’re in charge of custodial activities and they’re in charge of other things. And so they’re not in many cases, I don’t want to take anything away from those folks, but they aren’t dedicated to maintaining HVAC systems and the building systems. They’re oftentimes spread very thin over multiple areas. And this may not be the thing that they’re most focused on or most educated in. So expecting them to be able to handle complex systems isn’t always fair. So there are a lot of challenges that in some cases snowball and create, you know, really difficult situations. 

Amy H-L: [00:23:59] To clarify, are there state or federal regulations on air quality in schools and are there inspections?

Corey M: [00:24:08] That’s a great question. There are multiple standards in place. Most code requirements are at a state level. For building construction and operation, ASHRAE publishes a standard 62.1, which is ventilation for acceptable indoor air quality. And that is referenced by a number of codes. So typically that code is not directly referenced, but the international mechanical code or the uniform mechanical code are used throughout good portions of the United States. And their ventilation requirements are built on 62.1. Yeah, go ahead, Anisa.

Anisa H: [00:24:45] For non building people, codes are really confusing because they’re created by these bodies that are non-governmental and then they are adopted by localities or by states, depending on how a state runs their code structure. So it’s very decentralized in terms of standards. So ASHRAE creates this standard for air quality that’s incorporated into a building code, and then that building code, or pieces of it, can be adopted by locals or states. So it really, depends on where you are what the standard is that is referenced within your building code. And that is only about what is being built. So the building code only is governing what is being built now. So the building code at the time when a building was built is the building code that, that, that building was satisfying. And there’s there’s no requirement that that be improved over time. It’s just, that was the standard when it was built. And that’s what it complied with when it was built.

Jon M: [00:25:58] If I’m understanding that from an equity point of view, some of the things that we’re looking at are the buildings that are going to be most at risk or the students and teachers in those buildings will be one, buildings that are, that are older, so buildings that say are more 75 years old or a hundred years old, rather than 40 years old or 50 years old.

Anisa H: [00:26:24] Well, it’s not necessarily linear because we got worse and then we got better. Weirdly, yeah. Those buildings in the fifties to the seventies are, very generally speaking, our biggest problems.

Jon M: [00:26:38] Oh, okay. So the age of the building can be a serious issue. The funding that’s available in terms of maintaining systems or fixing them as, as needed. And the training and availability of staff and staff having the time to focus on all of these things are all things that if, if a district is looking at where its highest risk factors are, these are some of the things that they should be looking at. Is, is that basically right?

Anisa H: [00:27:09] I think so. What do you think, Corey?

Corey M: [00:27:11] I think that’s a good general high level description.

Anisa H: [00:27:14] Yeah, there’s a really frustrating funding structural inequity in the way that we fund schools that impacts all three of those things. And I can talk about that if, if now’s a good time, because I’m very passionate about it. So the way that we fund school buildings, school construction is almost entirely local. The federal government gives virtually nothing to school construction and many states give nothing. There are 12 states that give nothing to local school districts to help them with construction. There are some states that give quite a lot, like 60% or so across their state of school construction depending on need. So there are certain states that have structured that, and there are some states that give nothing and it’s entirely dependent on local wealth whether schools are able to make capital improvements to their schools. So that’s either new schools or major renovations, major projects that cost in the millions.

Many times, those are reliant on local wealth. And we know that that is inequitable, just inherently. So what happened there is not just that school buildings are not able to be built or renovated. It’s also that what happens over time is that those low wealth school districts are using up their operating funds, making bandaid repairs to school buildings that really need bigger work. And so they’re not only not able to build schools or renovate schools, but they’re also pulling dollars from the same pot that they need to pay teachers, bus drivers, instructional materials, all those other things –their main operational pots of money. They’re also draining that to try to maintain these schools that actually need more work than they’re really able to do because they can’t get the money to do the major work. So it’s just an equity issue on multiple levels. It’s really, it’s structural, we’re not going to fix it unless we can fix the structure of funding.

Jon M: [00:29:15] Following on that, Corey, you had said when we talked earlier, that big city districts and small rural districts may face some similar funding problems in improving their air quality compared to  suburban districts. Why would they have similar issues?

Corey M: [00:29:32] I’ll share my thoughts. I’d love to get Anisa’s as well. But in my experience, I have found that most of the older buildings I encounter are either in urban or rural districts. Suburban districts, again, this is my anecdotal experience, but they tend to replace their buildings more frequently or more regularly. They tend to do major system upgrade projects more regularly. And I think that probably is a factor of funding and tax base, but also probably other challenges in the urban district. It may be that it’s driven by a lack of available space for a new facility. And the challenges that go along with renovating an older facility may make it unusable for a longer period of time than they can afford to use or they have available to implement a required project. So there are challenges there. Rural districts, you know, in my state, I’m in Iowa, that it’s not uncommon that rural districts are looking at whether or not they can continue to survive and thrive, or if they need to be looking at consolidation, so why spend a lot of money? And the perspective, I think is frequently, why spend a lot of money on a facility we don’t know if we’ll be using in a few years. And I can certainly understand that perspective, but I think there are challenges. What about the kids that are in those facilities today and will be for the coming years, and the teachers and the staff?

Anisa H: [00:30:58] Yeah, I mean, in rural districts, many times, if they are in a state where their capital project budget is driven by their local tax base alone, without any state help or with very little state help, a lot of rural districts just don’t have the tax base, they just can’t raise the money over the time frame that they would need to raise it to build a school. A school is expensive to build, you know,  we’re talking tens of millions of dollars and they just can’t get that out of their local business and property and however they fund it. That tax base is just not going to be able to fund it. So that’s a lot of the problem on the rural side.

On the urban side, from what I’ve seen, it’s a lot about distribution of resources. You know, a lot of these urban districts are enormous. And so they have old building stock, especially if they’re an old city and a lot of old, old schools, and they have to figure out how to distribute their resources equitably among the schools that are in their care. And there’s just not enough to go around, especially to do really major projects. Sometimes there are really notable exceptions. I mean, there are certain cities that have looked around and realized that their school buildings are in terrible shape and have done some serious public campaigns around needing to do something and have rebuilt big swaths of their school buildings. So there are notable exceptions, but a lot of our urban school districts are in a situation where they don’t know how to distribute their resources, aside from funding, which is clearly a huge issue.

Amy H-L: [00:32:33] What are the difficulties that some schools encounter in obtaining accurate information and guidance?

Anisa H: [00:32:44] Yeah, we we’re seeing a lot of school district decisions be driven by the number of salespeople that are out there right now related to air quality because there’s federal money now out there to do something about air quality in these buildings. A lot of companies have popped up that are trying to sell new technologies to schools. A lot of times, what we’ve seen, at least, is school leaders or school district leaders are being targeted by the salespeople and not necessarily their facilities people. And so you might have expertise on staff that could tell you that better filtration and more outdoor air is going to do more for you related to the virus than any of these new technologies, but those people aren’t necessarily being listened to because the school leadership is getting a lot of public pressure. They’re also getting a lot of pitches from salespeople and that is confusing the message. I mean, it’s not very sexy to tell your community we’re just putting in some filters and bringing in outdoor air. But like, those are the things that are most likely to keep people healthy. And we know that from research, but bringing in like flashy new things seems to be something that some school leaders want to do to sort of show people that they’re acting responsibly. 

Jon M: [00:34:02] The report indicated that some of the schools were hoping that there’d be one centralized source of reliable information. Is that something that you found generally?

Anisa H: [00:34:13] People always want one source of information, but unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, we just don’t live in a society that will sort of center around one thing. A lot of folks wanted the CDC to be stronger on air quality because CDC was a place that a lot of schools were looking to for advice. And the CDC was pretty late actually in acknowledging that air quality had a lot to do with keeping people healthy against COVID. So one issue is that CDC  didn’t step up to be that single repository of information. ASHRAE really has been a leader in providing the kind of guidance that people are looking for related to air quality so a lot of the survey respondents were looking to ASHRAE for guidance around air quality. But I think that survey response was a reflection of the fact that people sort of expected CDC to step up a little bit more than they did.

Jon M: [00:35:12] As we move out of the pandemic, hopefully, and looking in terms of equity issues in the future, what are some of the areas that the Center for Green Schools will be focusing on in general around schools?

Anisa H: [00:35:27] So our two major messages related to equity and school buildings. One is around that school infrastructure funding and the structure of that. It’s our belief that the federal government needs to step up and provide some funding to help local school districts catch up on their school facility conditions. So we’ve been doing a lot of advocacy on Capitol hill around school facility infrastructure investment. So that’s one thing that I think is really imperative. Another is just increased understanding of the elements that impact health in schools. We know quite a lot about how an environment impacts human wellbeing and all the different factors of an environment that can encourage focus and information retention, and people just sort of feeling well that the strategies are not always dependent on shiny new facilities, right. A lot of those strategies are things that you can implement in existing schools. And so increasing the information that’s out there and understanding of what those strategies are is another big focus of ours to make sure that healthy places are available for education.

Amy H-L: [00:36:45] Thank you so much. Anisa Heming of the  of the Center for Green Schools of the US Green Building Council and Corey Metzger of ASHRAE.

Corey M: [00:36:53] Thank you very much. 

Anisa H: [00:36:54] Thanks for having us.

Amy H-L: [00:36:55] Thank you, listeners. If you enjoyed the podcast, please share it with a friend or colleague. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Give us a rating or review. This helps other people find the show. Check out our website,, for more episodes and articles, and to subscribe to our monthly emails. We post annotated transcripts of our interviews to make them easy to use in workshops and classes. We work with consultants to offer customized SEL programs, with a focus on ethics, for schools and youth programs in the New York City and San Francisco Bay areas. Contact us at We’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @ethicalschools. Our editor and social media manager is Amanda Denti. Until next week.

Click here to listen to this episode.