Our Nation’s School Buildings Are Failing Our Students

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U.S. Government Accountability Office:
Our Nation’s School Buildings Are Failing Our Students
But You Can Be the Champion Your Kids Need, without Delay

The negative impact of poor infrastructure is real and is undermining your efforts to give your students the best chance to succeed.

According to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), more than half of our nation’s school buildings are suffering from major infrastructure problems.

In addition, some 36,000 school buildings need to repair or replace several major features and systems which, if they aren’t fixed, can lead to serious health and safety issues for students, teachers and staff.

Major Infrastructure Problems

Issues such as old, leaky roofs, poor ventilation and interior lighting, decaying pipes and insulation affecting water quality, and outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are pervasive in our nation’s schools. What’s worse is that many of these neglected systems can lead to poor temperature control and air quality where mold can possibly form.

“Issues associated with a lack of fresh air are absolutely endemic in schools”
David M. Newman, PE, CEM, LEED-AP, CEA, VP of Engineering for The ECG Group

Fresh air intake is blocked with debris in a NY classroom

These shocking findings aren’t “new” to ECG’s technical team. ECG’s Vice President of Engineering, David M. Newman, PE, CEM, LEED-AP, CEA, confirms that, over the course of his 20+ year career, he has found that issues associated with a lack of fresh air are absolutely endemic in schools. “We had one district that had all of their dampers either broken or sealed, which means that wing of the building had not seen fresh air in their building in close to 30 years! Poor air quality is proven to lead to a poor learning and working environment for students and staff,” he said.

ECG’s Director of Technical Services, Aldo Mazzaferro, CEM, CEA added that it is a serious issue and significantly worse than many realize. “There have been many school districts that we’ve gone into with plywood over the fresh air intake on old unit ventilators because they emanate cold air in the winter, because they don’t function properly and occupants are cold.  At one district there were 15 units that were never even in service the last 10 years, providing zero fresh air to the children,” he said. This is a major code violation, but unfortunately, it is a common practice in schools.

Boarding up non-functioning unit ventilators because occupants are cold is a major code violation, but unfortunately, it is a common practice in many schools.

Disadvantaged Districts Suffer Most

Not surprisingly, the report also highlighted that there are continuing equity disparities in U.S. education funding depending on where students live.  $300 less per student was spent in high-poverty school districts compared to low-poverty districts on $44.6 billion of capital projects during the 2015-2016 school year.

Energy Savings Can Be Your Financial Option To Make Your Buildings Safer, Now

The grim results of the GAO report is a call to action that all educational leaders must heed. The good news is that the most common building conditions corrected through Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs) are the same critical systems that most districts need to upgrade: poor lighting, temperature controls, and inadequate ventilation.

The most common building conditions corrected through EPCs are poor lighting, temperature controls, and inadequate ventilation, bringing your buildings into full alignment with student success.

But, energy performance contracts can be wrought with abuse from contractors and thus should not be entered into blindly. The ECG Group is a school district advocate that manages and guides school districts through EPC projects to maximize their energy savings results. As the owner’s representative, ECG will help your district receive needed capital upgrades with zero budget or taxpayer impact and a positive cash flow to address other budget priorities.

The negative impact of poor core infrastructure conditions is real and is undermining your efforts to give your students the best chance to succeed. Working with ECG as your partner and advocate on an EPC project can help you set your students up for success on both a daily basis, and for years to come. ECG shares your objective to ensure that students are provided a safe and healthy environment, where they can reach their full potential.

Written By: Kendra A. McQuilton, CEO, The ECG Group

The ECG Group is a trusted, independent partner that seamlessly manages and leads energy performance contracts (EPCs) so school districts can be confident their energy-saving initiatives result in environmentally and fiscally responsible improvements and a world-class educational setting.

Questions? Contact Ashley Heintz-Lynch at ashley@theECGgroup.com