Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, an initiative prepared as part of the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, meant to improve ventilation and reduce the spread of COVID-19 within buildings.
The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge initiative encourages all building owners and operators, schools, colleges and universities, and organizations to adopt crucial strategies to improve indoor air quality in their buildings and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Here's what you need to know about the plan and its corresponding guidelines:
The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge is part of the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. The plan lays out a roadmap to help fight against COVID-19 in the future as the country starts to move towards more normal routines.
Released early in 2022, the COVID Preparedness Plan focuses on four key goals:
In collaboration with Congress and other government agencies, the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan and Clean Air in Buildings Challenge represent a multi-layered prevention strategy to fight against COVID-19.
The COVID-19 plan highlights the importance of providing the appropriate resources and guidance to schools, workers, and workplaces to help prevent further shutdowns. One key initiative highlights the importance of indoor air quality and providing schools and businesses with guidelines and resources to improve ventilation and air filtration in their buildings.
The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge is a call to action for building owners, operators, and leaders to assess their indoor air quality (IAQ) and, where necessary, improve the ventilation and air filtration to keep occupants safe from COVID-19.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge Fact Sheet, which provides a baseline of guidelines for indoor air quality and actionable steps buildings owners can take to improve their air quality.
Below are the high-level principles and general actions recommended in the document to help improve indoor air quality (IAQ) and help reduce the risk of airborne spread of viruses and other contaminants:
The following guidelines are taken directly from the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge guidelines document.
Determine how clean outdoor air is brought into the building and distributed to all occupied spaces. Understand and document how HVAC systems work for your building.
Optimize fresh air ventilation by bringing in and circulating clean outdoor air indoors.
Enhance filtration and cleaning using the central HVAC system and in-room air cleaning devices.
Get your community engaged in your action plan by communicating with building occupants to increase awareness, commitment, and participation in improving indoor air quality and health outcomes
Along with the guidance provided, building operators can obtain funds through the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds to supplement investments in ventilation and indoor air quality improvements in public settings.
"The American Rescue Plan provided $350 billion for state and local governments and $122 billion for schools that can be used to support making ventilation and filtration upgrades. These American Rescue Plan dollars are being put to work in communities around the country in improving Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems. Funding within the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund program and the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief program can be spent on inspection, testing, and maintenance of current ventilation systems; purchasing portable air filtration units, with HEPA air filters; purchasing MERV-13 (or higher) filters for HVAC system and air conditioners; purchasing fans; repairing windows and/or doors; servicing, upgrading, or replacing HVAC systems consistent with industry standards; and more." As per the White House Release.
Whether we like it or not, COVID-19 continues to pose operational challenges for building managers and owners all over the country. The White House Clean Air in Buildings Challenge highlights the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ). While many building managers understand the importance of indoor air quality in the fight against COVID-19, many still don't know what actionable steps to take or how to get started to improve the air quality within their buildings.
The White House's Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, along with the EPA's checklist, provides proven air cleaning strategies to make COVID air cleaning easier. According to industry expert Joseph Allen, "Inspect your existing systems and give your building a "tune up" like you do for your car, bring in more outdoor air, upgrade air filters to MERV13 or higher, and supplement air filtration with portable air cleaners. This is good guidance because it's clear, easy to do, and grounded in sound science."
If you would like to learn more about improving your indoor air quality, reach out to the experts at Sanalife. We can help you navigate through choosing the right solution for your organization.
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