a person touching a button on a touchscreen that says "indoor air quality"

Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) and Green Seal released for public comment a draft Healthy Green Schools & Colleges Standard that prioritizes measures that make a significant difference in indoor air quality without major capital investments.

The draft standard, which is the first of its kind in the nation, was designed in partnership with the award-winning school facility directors on the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges Steering Committee. It will be the centerpiece of a comprehensive program designed to support school facility management professionals in transforming the health and sustainability of school campuses. 

“School facility management professionals are vital stewards of school environments, but they often lack proper funding and resources for the essential work they do caring for students and staff,” said Doug Gatlin, CEO of Green Seal. “This national standard is a key part of our commitment to providing schools with the resources and network to ensure a quality of school facility that every student in America deserves.” 

“The way that schools manage their facilities speaks to how they value their students, staff, and surrounding communities,” said Rochelle Davis, president and CEO of HSC. “The Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program is designed to be accessible to any school or university that wants to improve. It offers them the tools they need to evaluate their current performance and design their path to safer and healthier facilities without major capital investments.” 

The pandemic has made creating healthy school environments an urgent national priority and brought to light the significant under-investment in school facilities nationwide. However, even before the pandemic, nearly half of U.S. schools reported indoor air quality problems that put the health of students and staff at risk.  

Unhealthy indoor air, inadequate ventilation, and chemical exposure from cleaning and maintenance routines continue to present systemic challenges in school districts. On top of health concerns, these issues are linked to poor concentration and test performance in students, adding preventable barriers to achievement. 

Schools have a rare opportunity right now to focus on their facilities. The American Rescue Plan and 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act provided tens of billions for American schools, including funds that can be used for health- and sustainability-focused facility upgrades.

The science-based Healthy Green Schools & Colleges Standard is geared toward K-12 school districts and higher education institutions and designed to be accessible for schools across the spectrum, whether they are just getting started exploring environmental health and sustainability improvements or are already a leader.

The standard is the centerpiece of a comprehensive program designed to support school facility management professionals. A self-assessment tool will allow schools to objectively measure their current indoor environmental health and sustainability performance, while guidebooks, trainings and other tools will help them determine and take their next steps. Then, a points-based scoring system will encourage schools to keep improving at their own pace, with support from a network of facility management peers across the country who are on a similar journey. 

Schools that reach the top level of achievement will be able to apply for third-party certification, earning public recognition for their verified expertise in providing healthy school environments.