Why ESSER Funding for Building Automation Systems Matters

Building Automation Systems should be a key consideration in how to best utilize your ESSER funds and here’s why: Air Exchange!

Just think about these numbers:

  • 4 – 6x/ hour: That’s what experts recommend in air changes to minimize infectious pathogens.
  • 3x/ hour: That’s the number of air changes required by code.
  • 1.5x/ hour: That’s the number of air changes the average classroom gets due to aging or misused equipment.*

The bottom line? A big gap between the air exchanges you need and what you may actually be getting.

So, how do modernized HVAC systems and building management systems improve upon older versions?

Put simply, the advanced digital building management systems (BMSs) of today give your HVAC system a powerful brain. Most older systems require manual operation or run on pneumatic controls with limited intelligence. With a digital BMS, you can connect your HVAC system to software and cloud analytics that give your facilities team real-time visibility into asset health and performance. Facility managers can pinpoint faulty equipment, track energy use, and shift from reactive to proactive maintenance.

Modern HVAC equipment such as chillers, air handlers, and economizers, can also help heat, cool, and ventilate your building using far less energy than older alternatives. This equipment can be automated for maximal energy efficiency.

And, you can connect occupancy and VOC sensors to the BMS to detect overcrowding, stale air, and classrooms that need targeted ventilation increases. This will help you comply with pandemic-era regulations and enhance safety for students, teachers, and staff.

What’s more – the benefits extend beyond reducing the spread of airborne pathogens. There is an established scientific relationship between poor indoor air quality (IAQ) and lower student performance on cognitive tests. This is because high levels of carbon dioxide (from exhaled breath) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs, i.e., airborne pollutants) can be harmful to human health.

Advanced BMS address these issues while delivering additional benefits, such as cloud-based control and enhanced cyber security, as well as adhering to various energy efficiency guidelines and funding opportunities. All these benefits merit a second look when it comes to defining how best to allocate your ESSER funding.

* Harvard Healthy Buildings Program, “Coronavirus (COVID-19): Press Conference with Joseph Allen, 9/2/20”