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EPA energy_savings_plus_health_guideline

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Appendix B: Communication and Education Renovation and construction projects in a school create unique challenges that affect the design and construc tion processes and the occupancy phase after work is complete. This appendix provides strategies for effec tive, proactive and responsive communications to help maintain a healthy and productive school indoor envi ronment before, during and after a building upgrade. It also is vital to ensure staff receive adequate training on operations, maintenance and repair after energy retrofits and building upgrades. Providing education to school faculty, staff and students about the IAQ goals of each project and information related to proper operation and occupancy can help to ensure that the renovated building and its systems continue to work as intended. This education reduces costs and risks to the overall project and the design and renovation/ construction teams. This appendix outlines information about the project that should be provided to school facility managers, staff and students. Effective Communications Effective communications can help to prevent IAQ problems and allay unnecessary fears. In addition, schools should respond promptly and effectively to any IAQ issues that may arise. Effective, proactive and responsive communications are a critical, ongo ing process for maintaining IAQ in the school. Com munication can help school occupants understand how their activities affect IAQ, which will enable them to improve their indoor environment through proper choices and actions. Proactive Communication Schools and school districts can reap many benefits from taking a proactive approach to addressing IAQ is sues. The positive public relations that can result from this approach can lead to a better understanding of IAQ by school occupants and the community. Commu nicating effectively, both internally and externally, is a key element. Build rapport with the local media now. An informed media aware of your efforts to prevent IAQ problems and that understands the basics of IAQ in schools can be an asset instead of a liability during an IAQ crisis. Communicating the goals of the IAQ Management Plan to those within the school—teachers, custodians, administrators, support staff, the school nurse, students—is key. The following steps can help develop good communication between you and the school occupants: 1. Provide accurate information about factors that are affecting IAQ. 2. Clarify the responsibilities and activities of the IAQ coordinator. 3. Clarify the responsibilities and activities of each occupant. 4. Notify occupants and parents of planned activities that may affect IAQ. 5. Employ good listening skills. The necessary level of communication often depends on the severity of the IAQ complaint. If the complaint can be resolved quickly (e.g., an annoying but harm less odor from an easily identified source) and involves a small number of people, communication can be handled in a straightforward manner without risking confusion and bad feelings among school occupants. Communication becomes a more critical issue when there are delays in identifying and resolving the prob lem and when serious health concerns are involved. Step 4 deals with informing occupants and parents before the start of significant planned activities that produce odors or contaminants. If occupants and parents are uninformed, they may become concerned about unknown air contaminants, such as strange odors or excessive levels of dust, and register an IAQ complaint. Examples of planned activities include pest control, painting, roofing and installation of new flooring. Notification of planned activities also can prevent problems from arising with students and staff with special needs. For example, an asthmatic student may wish to avoid certain areas within a school, or use alternative classrooms, during times when a major renovation project will produce higher levels of dust. A sample notification letter is provided in the model painting policy on the EPA IAQ Tools for Schools website. Step 5 involves effective listening. School occu pants often can provide information that helps prevent problems, and being "heard" may help defuse negative reactions by occupants if indoor air problems develop. Responsive Communication When an IAQ problem occurs, you can be assured that the school community will learn about it quick ly. Without open communication, any IAQ problem can become complicated by anxiety, frustration and distrust. These complications can increase both the time and money needed to resolve the problem. Energy Savings Plus Health | INDOOR AIR QUALITY GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOL BUILDING UPGRADES 81

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