School District Betters Indoor-Air Quality While Reducing Outside-Air Requirements

March 1, 2010
Program removes odors from a Texas high school

At a recently rebuilt three-story high school in the North East Independent School District (NEISD) in San Antonio, the outdoor-air-supply duct serving a 15,000-sq-ft, three-corridor wing designed to accommodate 448 people was too small. The resulting insufficient airflow caused unpleasant odors and uncomfortable conditions.

Studies of typical classroom space with insufficient outside air show a variety of contaminants, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, acetone, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methyl alcohol, phenol, formaldehyde, and volatile organic compounds.

The Solution

After learning about Purafil's Enersave program during a meeting of the Alamo Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the NEISD contacted Purafil and Purafil's local representative, Mechanical Reps. The NEISD wanted to conserve energy, as well as improve indoor-air quality (IAQ).

The Enersave program provides contaminant analysis and filtration devices needed to reduce outside-air requirements by up to 75 percent without compromising IAQ.

To meet the requirements of the IAQ procedure of ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, the NEISD utilized Purafil's combination Purafilter, which replaces particulate filters and adds chemical filtration to clean recirculated air for significant energy savings without additional capital expenditures. Containing Purafil SP Blend media, Purafilter removes more air contaminants relevant to poor IAQ than carbon-only filters.

Customer Satisfaction

With the Enersave program, malodors from gaseous contaminants were eliminated, and allergen particles in the air were reduced. Additionally, the district did not need to buy new air handlers or rework ductwork.

Several district schools representing 22 air-handling systems now use the IAQ procedure and Enersave. With Purafilters installed in several new air-handling units, the NEISD reported a 50-percent reduction in medical-inhaler use by asthmatic students.

The NEISD implemented a program, based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's IAQ Tools for Schools (TfS) program, to continually evaluate IAQ within each of its schools. Additionally, the district is using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's “Initiating Change: Creating an Asthma-Friendly School” toolkit to provide up-to-date information about asthma and its triggers to teachers and administrators and has received technical and managerial support from Association of School Business Officials International's indoor-environmental-quality group.

In 2008, the district received the IAQ TfS National Excellence Award.

As a result of its corrective actions, the NEISD serves as a model for surrounding school districts.

“The Enersave program allows my district to reduce the quantities of outside-air contaminants entering our schools from the ventilation-air intakes and to clean the recirculated air of contaminants coming from either internal or external sources,” the NEISD's director for IAQ, Gerald Lamping, said. “Improvements to the IAQ in classrooms have resulted in better attendance and healthier students in the district.”

Information and photographs courtesy of Purafil Inc.
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About the Author

Scott Arnold | Executive Editor

Described by a colleague as "a cyborg ... requir(ing) virtually no sleep, no time off, and bland nourishment that can be consumed while at his desk" who was sent "back from the future not to terminate anyone, but with the prime directive 'to edit dry technical copy' in order to save the world at a later date," Scott Arnold joined the editorial staff of HPAC Engineering in 1999. Prior to that, he worked as an editor for daily newspapers and a specialty-publications company. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.