EPA Grant Funding: Transforming Indoor Air Quality in Schools
Empowering Communities to Breathe Clean, Healthy Air: Exploring the EPA's Transformative Grant Program for Improving Indoor Air Quality in Schools
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently opened applications for funding to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools. Backed by the Inflation Reduction Act, this grant allows schools in low-income, disadvantaged, and Tribal communities to receive funding to ensure a healthy environment for their students and faculty.
The Core of The Grant Program
The program aims to decrease and track air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in schools. Taking a comprehensive approach, it will support a select number of K-12 schools in formulating and implementing management plans for their IAQ. These plans align with the EPA's best practices, emphasizing energy efficiency and air pollution control.
Why This Matters
EPA studies have revealed that pollutant levels in indoor environments can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels, sometimes exceeding over 100 times the levels found in outdoor air, often due to inadequate control of indoor pollution sources and poor ventilation. Ensuring healthy IAQ is especially important, considering that 90 percent of individuals spend their time indoors.
The program addresses health effects caused by poor indoor air quality, like respiratory diseases and allergic reactions, and the broader issue of environmental and health impacts due to greenhouse gas emissions. Children who engage in outdoor activities are susceptible to health risks due to the effects of climate change on the environment. These risks include increased exposure to wildfire smoke, insect- and tick-related diseases, and heat illnesses. Properly integrating effective energy efficiency and air quality management measures reduces the harmful effects of air pollution and climate change while increasing savings.
Grantee Responsibilities And Goals
Grantees will play a crucial role in guiding schools in the creation and execution of IAQ management plans. Plans involve preventative maintenance to avert IAQ issues, rapid responses to emerging IAQ problems, and enhancing facility maintenance operations. Additionally, grantees will focus on determining what energy efficiency improvement opportunities can be implemented and focus on upgrading infrastructure to ensure readiness for capital funding.
Eligibility And Application Process
The allocation of grants is based on a competitive process. Eligibility for application is open to Indian Tribes, states, territories, local governments and educational agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
More specifically, Tribal schools that operate independently of federal oversight could obtain funding through the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).
Additionally, public school districts are eligible to apply, but their proposed projects must align with the purpose of the program, outlined in Section I.B of the NOFO.
Organizations with the following background in IAQ management are also advised to apply:
- History in implementing IAQ management capacity programs nationally, regionally, or across multiple states.
- Delivering training on IAQ.
- Conducting research on IAQ in educational environments.
- Promoting successful IAQ standards/policies – particularly in collaboration with Tribal organizations and schools.
Those who meet the guidelines to apply can submit up to one grant application to receive support in two or more of the following four project categories:
- Capacity building to reduce IAQ and GHG, focused on health officers, facility management personnel, and K-12 administrators from disadvantaged and low-income school districts.
- Building the capacity to reduce IAQ and GHG in tribal communities, focused on health officers, facility management personnel, and K-12 administrators from Tribal schools.
- Conduct an education and training campaign aimed at minimizing IAQ and GHG emissions, focused on health officers and facility management personnel in K-12 schools/districts within Tribal, disadvantaged, and low-income communities. Alternatively, train qualified K-12 personnel to carry out overall reduction plans for IAQ and GHG.
- Undertake projects to research and demonstrate IAQ and GHG reduction in K-12 schools in disadvantaged, low-income, and Tribal communities.
Funding And Support
Total available funds for the grants amount to an estimated $32 million. The EPA expects to award four to six grants amounting to $5 million to $8 million each. An awarded grant would support IAQ-related and energy reduction initiatives over five years. Ultimately, each grant's quantity and monetary value will depend on fund availability, application quality, and other relevant factors. Applications are due by March 19, 2024, to grants.gov.
For more information on the grant and how to apply, visit the following link: