The American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law by President Biden in March 2021, has set a priority of reopening as many K-12 schools as possible within its 100 days. As of the writing of this article, we’re a little more than a third of the way through that timeline. Facilities managers are ramping into high gear getting many buildings that have been shut down for a year or more ready for people to resume daily occupancy. Here are a few quick tips to guide your planning process as you start laying out your school building safety and school facilities management strategies.
There’s nothing more important to a K-12 facilities manager than the safety and health of the building’s occupants. The COVID-19 pandemic brought this into even sharper relief and now is the time to act. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 54% of public school districts need to improve or replace multiple school building systems—especially HVAC upgrades. Their report estimates that 41% of districts need an update or even replacement of antiquated or inadequate HVAC systems. That adds up to 36,000 schools across the nation.
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) went into effect on December 27, 2020. This 5,600-page, $900B bill included $82B specifically set aside for education. Of that money, $52B will go straight to K-12 schools (about four times as much as the $13.5B allocated by the CARES Act in March of 2020).
Building management software (BMS) and building automation systems (BAS) will sometimes come packaged with an optional, limited style of mobile access through a building management app. However, when these applications require you to be connected to the building network to access the system, this is not really “remote” access so much as the option to use a phone or tablet while on site.
Building Automation Software (BAS) can be remarkably complex. Depending on the size of the facility, you may have tens or even hundreds of unique lighting, electrical, heat, cooling, ventilation, IAQ sensor, and other devices to monitor and control.
A comfortable, healthy, happy environment helps people stay productive. And yet, according to a study by HBR, the number one environmental factor employees cite as important to their workplace wellness is better air quality—not access to a gym or other company office perks like snacks or tech-based health tools. Only a third of survey respondents “characterized their office temperature as ideal.”
Topics: Remote Building Controls
There are a ton of facility management apps out there to choose from, but the differences in their capabilities can be vast. Many that claim to offer “remote” access, for example, actually mean that you can access the system using proprietary facilities management mobile apps—but must still be on the local network for your BAS, which generally means being on-site. A truly remote option, like ODIN, would function from anywhere. Here are seven questions to ask as you compare your options.
Smart homes—and the automated technology they helped make popular—entered the scene in the tail-end of the 1990s and found their foothold in the early 2000s. The prospect of a home autonomously managing lighting, heating, and other actions seemed right out of a movie, and it was only a matter of time before those smart technology solutions found a home in other environments.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about indoor air quality (IAQ), so many that even the most experienced of building operators and HVAC technicians may find themselves scratching their heads. This is why, when it comes down to it, the only way to know what indoor air quality control is supposed to look like is to consult with the source.