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Insights from an expert: IEQ and back to school

August 25, 2021

Q:  What are your key observations about IEQ & schools in 2020?
A: Most, school leaders do not yet fully understand the strong correlation between academic achievement and the classroom environment. Multiple studies have shown that students in classrooms with properly ventilated spaces and proper lighting have higher test scores. Yet school leaders are still gaining awareness that the learning environment goes beyond the books, desks, computers, lesson plans, art on the wall, etc.  They are now beginning to understand that indoor air quality, acoustics and lighting play a crucial role in optimizing the learning environment.

Q:  What were you most surprised about ?
A:  Although a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in Texas is one of the most important components of a building, it often is underfunded for preventive maintenance and replacement. I think that fewer than 20 percent of the state’s schools have a capital improvement plan in place. Now is a great time for the remaining 80 percent to address that need.

Q:  Where do you see the biggest opportunity for improvements come fall 2021
A: The fall will be a difficult season for schools as they re-open. While it is important to address issues such as learning loss and social/emotional learning, it is also critical for school leaders to help ensure the best indoor environmental quality for their students.  It’s even better if they start focusing on the quality of the indoor spaces before school starts up again. By working with an energy service company, like Trane, and starting with an indoor air quality assessment, leaders can take a holistic approach to building wellness that helps identify the best solutions for their specific needs.

Q: What can schools start doing today to prepare for the upcoming school year? 
A: As part of a holistic approach to building wellness, an energy service company such as Trane can help school leaders access unprecedented funding currently available to optimize indoor spaces in schools. Additionally, Trane can help leaders prepare a long-term replacement strategy should they be hit with a natural disaster or other surprises.

Q:  What trends do you see for K12 in this upcoming school year?
A: While there is an opportunity during summer months to focus on building wellness, come fall, the focus will initially shift to addressing students’ academic, social and emotional needs as all cautiously return to school after an unprecedented year. Once normal operations resume, school leaders will begin to re-focus on making facilities the best they can be to help support the academic environment.

Jason Turner

About the author
Jason Turner, Energy Services Executive, Trane

Jason Turner, an energy services executive at Trane, has over 15 years of experience in the K-12 marketplace providing electricity, fuel and natural gas contracts to over 300 intermediate school districts and colleges in Texas since 2007.  Jason has assisted over 400 Texas school districts with asset management, energy saving and design-build projects, bond capital Improvement projects and behavioral management policies tailored specifically to each district’s needs. 

As a former division director for the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), Jason developed a state-wide Texas network with all levels of operations within schools from janitors to board presidents. As the parent of five- and eight-year-old boys, Jason is passionate about giving them – and children everywhere, the best learning environment. Jason graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental studies from Texas State University. He also received Water Policy Certification from the school. A native Texan, Jason and his wife, Kate, and family currently reside in Central Texas.