Maintaining a satisfactory indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in schools is challenging for several reasons. Typically, one building houses multiple functions (administrative offices, athletic facilities, cafeteria, special use areas such as studios and laboratories) which poses unique and sometimes conflicting heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) requirements. In addition, school buildings are partially occupied during certain times of the school year leaving these buildings vulnerable to ambient weather conditions such as freezing temperatures or uncontrolled humidity levels. As school budgets tighten, preventive maintenance measures are often delayed or postponed for years resulting in costly repairs when systems fail. New schools are complex buildings with computer-based energy management and HVAC control systems that require extensive training of personnel and tight integration of various building systems.
EH&E has helped many school departments resolve IEQ issues, identify opportunities for improvements in infrastructure systems’ performance, and ensure the health, safety, and productivity of the faculty and students. Experience has made EH&E skilled at handling sensitive and complex communication issues that can arise as the result of indoor environmental concerns. One of the most important tasks we do is to develop a Health Risk Assessment and Risk Communications Program to identify potential health risks to occupants in the building and to convey these findings to a lay audience respecting the concerns of staff, faculty, parents, students and administration. Whether it be a situation where a school is dealing with hazardous chemicals from a subsurface groundwater plume or an accidental asbestos release or mold contamination following a flood, EH&E has assisted public and private schools in addressing the fears of the occupants with straightforward information and expertise in understanding the issues involved.
We work with our clients to develop materials, and if need be, participate in a comprehensive communication plan for the school community. The plan may include public meetings, staff meetings, newspaper articles, press conferences, student briefing sessions—whatever means necessary to ensure that the public is fully and properly informed about any potential risks within an institution.