ESG And HVAC: Improving K-12 Schools

Facility managers can create a better indoor experience through system efficiency and clean air.

By Kimberly Raduenz
From the October 2023 Issue


Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) isn’t something that we would commonly associate with K-12 schools. When ESG reports are mentioned, it’s often in conjunction with major corporations looking to be transparent about how they are making a difference in protecting the environment. But large corporations aren’t the only institutions playing a major role in environmental changes. K-12 schools should be at the forefront of setting good ESG examples.

With the goal of creating an excellent environment for students, using ESG as a guide can help school districts provide cleaner air, develop efficiency strategies, and remain in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

K-12 Schools
(Photo: Adobe Stock/ altitudevisua)

Environment And Energy Consumption

One aspect of ESG reporting is the Environmental dimension. This often refers to how a company can manage its environmental impact. When it comes to school districts, energy consumption and efficiency are tied directly to the environment. It is important for schools to understand how school systems can affect energy consumption through the use of HVAC systems.

According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, almost 100,000 public K-12 schools represent 5% of commercial building energy consumption, expend $8 billion in utility bills, and serve 50 million students plus three million teachers. The High School Sustainability Guide states HVAC systems consume 40%-50% of a school’s total energy. With a high percentage of energy being consumed by HVAC units, utilizing sustainable products can help reduce the overall footprint of a school district.

By using efficient HVAC and air purification systems, schools can improve their Environmental score as it pertains to ESG. And there are plenty of solutions that can help reduce energy consumption. From a sustainability standpoint, high-efficiency units can give schools alternatives that can both provide great atmospheres while dedicating themselves to a cleaner future for students.

Creating A Better Social Environment With Better IAQ

For school districts, almost nothing directly impacts the well-being of employees and students more than indoor air quality. 

The Social component of ESG covers a wide variety of topics including the well-being of employees and building occupants. For school districts, almost nothing directly impacts the well-being of employees and students more than indoor air quality. According to the EPA, poor IAQ can result in a variety of health issues including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; headaches, dizziness, and fatigue; and respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer. With an increased chance of illness, there is a greater chance for students to miss school, which could lead to poorer performance academically.

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Due to the effects of poor IAQ, a high-quality HVAC system is a must for schools looking to create a better learning environment and future for students. Mechanical HVAC solutions are a great tool when looking to create better IAQ and satisfy the Social component of ESG. These units have the ability to provide adequate ventilation and filtration that keeps the air clean and safe to breathe.

Governance And IAQ

The final aspect of ESG is Governance. This component pertains to how an organization is governed and its ability to stay in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. This is where the two previous sections tie into the overall goal. If a school district is emphasizing the Environmental component by utilizing efficient HVAC solutions and the Social aspect by enhancing IAQ, then they are likely staying in compliance with IAQ regulations. If a school was utilizing ESG reporting, this would help its overall score. IAQ continues to play a major role in the everyday life of students and K-12 schools. By focusing on the individual aspects of ESG, school districts can ensure they are doing everything they can to provide a great environment for students and faculty while also creating sustainable operations.

K-12 SchoolsRaduenz is the Manager, Strategic Marketing for the IAQ division of Modine Manufacturing Company. Building on more than 100 years in thermal management, Modine provides trusted systems and solutions that improve air quality and conserve natural resources.

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Check out all the recent HVAC Factor columns from Facility Executive magazine.


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