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The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has long recognized Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) as a critically important component of creating and maintaining school facilities. As part of its IAQ Design Tools for Schools, the EPA encourages that an outdoor air supply be introduced for better IAQ. More specifically, the EPA recommends outdoor air introduction through Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) equipment. Why ERV? Bottom line, Energy Recovery Ventilation equipment allows school designers to provide increased levels of balanced, mechanical ventilation to meet or exceed recommended fresh, outdoor air requirements in a sensible, low maintenance, energy conscious manner.

The case for increased levels of mechanical ventilation in our schools is not just recognized by the EPA. The International Mechanical Code®, ASHRAE, U.S. Green Building Council, state and local code authorities and many school design professionals also recognize the need to protect students and staff alike from indoor pollution.

What is Ventilation for Good Indoor Air Quality?

Although simple, in principle, building ventilation for the purpose of fresh air delivery to occupants can be a complex, confusing and sometimes overlooked topic. In the Education Community where administrators are dealing with facilities that are often outdated, or made up of a mixture of new, old and remodeled structures, the challenge is equally complex, especially when maintenance is left to custodial staff who may not have the necessary time nor training to properly maintain equipment. Add to this the common misperception that when air is circulating inside an occupied location, there is also a fresh outdoor air component. This is not always the case. Many times the air movement is only re-circulated air moving through the space by the space heating or cooling equipment fans that at best may receive some filtration. In many cases, the “V” in HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) is often neglected or overlooked.

However, RenewAire has been in the business of working to simplify this topic for almost thirty years. Bottom line, ventilation air can be easily and sensibly applied with minimal associated maintenance to any building being heated or cooled by any technology type – thermal, heat pump, gas fired, electric, chilled beam, etc. By recovering a high percentage of the energy contained in the stale indoor air our products exhaust outdoors, RenewAire’s Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) systems use this energy to moderate the extremes of temperature and humidity of the incoming fresh ventilation air. However, not all ERV systems are the same.

RenewAire ERV Systems

The RenewAire static plate, air-to-air exchanger transfers both heat and water vapor into or out of the incoming fresh outdoor air, moderating winter/summer temperatures and humidity extremes year-round for maximum indoor living comfort at substantial energy savings. Rather than simply bringing in raw outdoor air –as in a fan-only ventilation system– its advanced hydroscopic resin plates transfer both heat and water vapor from the exhaust air to precondition the ventilation air using the available energy in the exhaust air leaving the building. During summer, hot/humid ventilation air is preconditioned using the relatively cool/dry exhaust air. During winter, ventilation air is pre-heated/ humidified using the relatively warmer/wetter exhaust air. This is all accomplished passively. The advantage over a fan-only ventilation system is that the use of this exchanger substantially reduces air conditioning and heating energy costs on an ongoing basis while reducing the size of heating and cooling equipment required to condition ventilation air in new school construction or remodel replacement situations.

A Natural Fit for Schools

For nearly three decades, RenewAire has pioneered the use of air-to-air plate exchangers throughout North and South America. Today, RenewAire is one of North America's largest provider of ERV technology, with more than 160,000 units currently in operation and growing. It has been a leader for many years in supplying K-12 and higher-education facilities with fresh air for a good indoor environment.

One of the reasons RenewAire's ERVs are so popular in school applications is the simple maintenance associated with RenewAire products. Following the suggested maintenance for the unit, simply replace the filters that protect the energy exchange core and inspect and vacuum (if necessary) the core faces with a soft bristle brush attached to a hose on a standard vacuum. Also, the outside wall caps, or louvers where fresh air is brought in and where stale air is exhausted, should be checked seasonally to make sure they are not blocked. Easy maintenance allows custodial staff to maintain the equipment without expensive maintenance contracts or equipment failure concerns.

Lastly, RenewAire’s proven equipment is competitively priced with paybacks in the three year or less range. Compare that with any other green or sustainable HVAC product and you will find that number to be exceptionally low. Low first costs and low ongoing costs make a winning combination for tight school budgets. RenewAire - The clear choice for any school project.