Key points:

  1. ERVs have emerged as an effective solution for enhancing IAQ and energy efficiency in K-12 schools.
  2. Specifying ERVs for K-12 schools can be a streamlined process by following the 12 steps in this guide.
  3. RenewAire ERVs are an optimal choice for K-12 schools, and specifying them can be done via a certified representative.

In recent years, the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) and energy efficiency in educational environments has gained significant attention. As K-12 schools across North America seek ways to improve IAQ and reduce energy consumption, the installation of energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) is seen as an effective solution.

ERVs enhance IAQ in K-12 schools via increased and balanced ventilation while optimizing energy efficiency by recovering energy from exhaust air. The question then becomes, “How can ERVs be implemented successfully in K-12 school facilities?” In this guide, we will answer that question by outlining the specification process for ERVs in K-12 educational institutions.

First, take a look at our previous blog posts on the benefits of enhanced IAQ via ERVs in K-12 schools: Healthier Classrooms, Healthier Minds, Healthier Planet via ERVs, Breathing Fresh Air into Learning: The Cognitive Benefits of ERVs in K-12 Classrooms and Exploring Public Funds for Energy-Efficiency Upgrades in K-12 Schools. Now, let’s examine how to successfully specify ERVs for K-12 schools.

Understanding ERVs and Their Benefits to K-12 Schools
Before delving into the specification process, it’s crucial to understand what ERVs are and the benefits they offer. ERVs are ventilation systems designed to exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air while recovering energy from the exhaust air stream. This process helps maintain comfortable indoor temperatures and reduces the workload on heating and cooling systems, leading to significant energy savings. Moreover, ERVs improve IAQ by removing pollutants and ensuring a constant supply of fresh air, which is essential for the health and productivity of students and staff in K-12 schools.

The ERV Specification Process for K-12 Schools
Now, let’s jump into the steps to take to successfully specify ERVs for K-12 schools:

  1. Assess Current HVAC Systems: Begin by assessing the existing HVAC systems in school buildings. Evaluate their performance, capacity and energy-consumption levels. This assessment will help determine the suitability of integrating ERVs into the existing infrastructure to help enhance IAQ. On this topic, the EPA compiled an overview on HVAC systems and IAQ in schools that includes a section on why energy recovery ventilation make sense for educational facilities.
  2. Identify Appropriate ERV Models: Consult a certified RenewAire representative to explore a variety of ERV models suitable for K-12 school environments. Consider factors such as capacity, energy-efficiency ratings and compatibility with existing HVAC systems. For K-12 schools, RenewAire recommends the following models: EV Premium X, HE07, HE10 and HE1.5.
  3. Energy Audits and Performance Analysis: Conduct energy audits using resources such as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s School Efficiency Enhancement Guides and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)’s Energy Audit Procedure. Audits provide valuable insights into energy usage patterns and opportunities for improvement. Analyze the potential energy savings and IAQ enhancements achievable through the installation of ERVs.
  4. Review Government Guidelines and Policies: Refer to government documents such as the White House School Infrastructure Toolkit, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s guide on Energy Efficiency Programs in K-12 Schools and the EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Action Kit to confirm compliance with relevant regulations and guidelines.
  5. Understand Building Codes and Standards: Knowing building codes and standards is essential for ERV specification in K-12 schools to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and promote health, safety and efficiency. Building codes dictate the minimum standards for HVAC system design, installation and operation, addressing aspects such as ventilation rates, equipment efficiency and fire safety. One of the primary codes for K-12 schools to follow is ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2022, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality.
  6. Apply for Public Funds and Grants: Familiarize yourself with any incentives or public funding opportunities available for energy-efficiency upgrades in educational facilities. Some examples include the DOE’s Renew America’s Schools Program, the U.S. Department of Education’s School Infrastructure Programs and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Inflation Reduction Act Tax Credits.
  7. Budgeting and Financing Options: Develop a comprehensive budget that encompasses the cost of ERV units, installation expenses and any necessary upgrades or modifications to the HVAC infrastructure. Explore financing options such as grants or loans to mitigate upfront costs and maximize return on investment (ROI).
  8. Forecast Energy Savings, Payback and Net Present Value: Due to the tremendous energy savings created by ERVs, the upfront installation costs can be paid back in a few short years. What’s more, ERVs will provide considerable value for years to come as a result of continued energy savings. This means an excellent ROI and a substantial Net Present Value (NPV) as demonstrated by this case study on the NPV of a RenewAire ERV.
  9. Documentation and Procurement: Prepare detailed specifications outlining the ERV requirements, including performance metrics, installation guidelines and warranty provisions. Utilize resources like ASHRAE’s Design Guidance for Educational Facilities: Prioritization for Advanced Indoor Air Quality to streamline the procurement process and ensure transparency and accountability.
  10. Installation and Commissioning: Collaborate closely with qualified contractors to ensure the proper installation and commissioning of ERVs. Follow manufacturer recommendations, such as RenewAire’s ERV Guide for Enhanced Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency, and industry best practices to optimize system performance and reliability. Conduct thorough testing and verification to validate compliance with design specifications and regulatory requirements.
  11. Training and Maintenance: Provide training to maintenance staff and facility managers on the operation and maintenance of ERV systems, which can be done via RenewAire ventilation workshops. Emphasize the importance of regular inspections, filter replacements and troubleshooting procedures to maximize longevity and performance. Establish a proactive maintenance schedule to address any issues promptly and minimize downtime.
  12. Monitoring and Performance Tracking: Implement a monitoring and performance tracking system to assess the effectiveness of ERVs in improving IAQ and energy efficiency. Utilize tools such as building automation systems and energy management software to collect real-time data and identify opportunities for optimization. Regularly review performance metrics and make necessary adjustments to realize continued success. One place to start in this process is the U.S. Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)’s Energy Efficiency and Indoor Environmental Quality Assessment Guide. 

Specifying RenewAire ERVs for K-12 Schools
The specification process for RenewAire ERVs in K-12 schools begins with a thorough understanding of the unique requirements of each building and their HVAC systems. Then, by selecting a certified RenewAire represenative based on region, school administrators can speak with HVAC professionals and access detailed product information, performance data and specifications for a range of ERV models tailored to educational environments.

Once the appropriate RenewAire ERV model is identified, the certified RenewAire representative will move forward with detailed planning and documentation. By leveraging the RenewAire team’s expertise and industry-leading products, K-12 schools can confidently specify ERVs that meet their IAQ and energy-efficiency objectives, ensuring optimal performance and long-term reliability. Once installed, the RenewAire team will remain committed to providing exceptional customer support and technical assistance.

To see how RenewAire ERVs were used in a K-12 school setting to enhance IAQ and energy efficiency, take a look at this ERV case study on Avon Old Farms School.

In Summary
Specifying and installing ERVs in K-12 schools presents a valuable opportunity to enhance IAQ, reduce energy consumption and create healthier learning environments. By following the ERV specification process in this guide, schools can embark on a successful journey towards enhancing IAQ energy-efficiently, cost-effectively and sustainably. Together with RenewAire, K-12 schools can build a brighter, healthier future for the next generation.

For more information on how to specify RenewAire ERVs for K-12 schools, contact us today by clicking here.