In addition to new, updated COVID-19 vaccines and lifesaving treatments, improving indoor air quality within the buildings we use every day is an essential part of the Biden Administration’s plan to manage COVID-19 this fall and winter. As people spend more time indoors this fall and winter, contagious viruses like COVID-19 can spread more easily. The Administration has called on business and school leaders to take key steps to improve indoor air quality in their buildings as a key way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Yesterday, the White House hosted a Summit on Improving Indoor Air Quality, bringing together public health and ventilation experts, private sector and education leaders, and other stakeholders to highlight the benefits of improved indoor air quality in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, showcase schools and businesses that are leading the way in making improvements, and underscore the importance of all building operators doing their part.
Administration officials also highlighted some additional steps we are taking to advance indoor air quality in buildings across the nation:
Encouraging businesses and organizations around the country in taking the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge
Earlier this year, the Administration launched the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge with a clear set of recommendations all building owners and operations can follow to improve indoor air quality. Yesterday’s Summit featured a discussion with private sector leaders representing Salesforce, Silverstein Properties, and Capital One Arena/Monumental Sports on the actions outlined within the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge they have taken to improve indoor air quality across their buildings. Additionally, the Administration launched a new website – https://www.whitehouse.gov/cleanindoorair/ – where businesses and other organizations can learn more about the Challenge1 and pledge their commitment to improving indoor air quality in their buildings. In recognition of their commitments, those who sign up will receive a digital “badge” that they can use to share their pledge publicly with their employees, customers, and communities on social media, in their storefronts, and beyond.
Making it easier for schools to improve indoor air quality
Yesterday’s Summit featured participants from Denver Public Schools (Denver, CO) and Clark County School District (Las Vegas, NV), two school districts that have made great strides in improving ventilation and filtration in their buildings – including through the use of American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. Today, nearly half of school districts in the country plan to use ARP funds to improve ventilation. The Administration continues to collaborate with organizations that provide expert guidance and technical support from skilled, trained, and qualified technicians to make it easier to make improvements, and the Department of Energy will continue to make one-on-one consultations available to any school in America that wants one for improving their indoor air quality.
Lifting up organizations who are leading the way on indoor air quality in their buildings
As part of the President’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan released earlier this year, the Administration pledged to engage industry, scientific, academic, and labor leaders to identify ways to recognize the efforts of buildings and leaders across sectors and around the country toward ventilation and indoor air quality improvements. In support of this goal, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a Request for Information (RFI)2 to solicit feedback from experts, researchers, industry, and the public on key characteristics and measures to document efforts toward improved ventilation, filtration, and air cleaning in buildings, and to more generally advance and promote the widespread adoption of actions that lead to improvements in indoor air quality in the nation’s building stock. Later this month, the Department of Energy will also announce its criteria for recognizing schools that are making indoor air quality improvements as part of its Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign3. In addition to sharing success stories through annual recognition, this campaign offers technical assistance to plan and implement energy efficient health and safety improvements in school facilities.