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The Louisiana Recovery School District: Healing and Thriving

2010 November 12

modBy Tiffany Delcour

Indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools is my top priority – and here in the Louisiana Recovery School District (RSD) we’ve had our work cut out for us since Hurricane Katrina to ensure that our schools are as safe and healthy as they can be. But believe it or not, the issue of IAQ didn’t begin with Katrina. Now, don’t get me wrong, Katrina damaged 80% of our school facilities and caused $1.8 billion in damages. Five years later, we are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Katrina on our school district and in many places we have vast, modular campuses instead of permanent school buildings. But really the issue of IAQ started with deferred maintenance costs before the storm.

Deferred maintenance costs are an issue that many, many school districts can relate to, especially older districts with aging buildings. Over time, deferred maintenance can lead to high levels of carbon dioxide, moisture, humidity, HVAC issues and more – universal concerns for school districts, not just those located in hurricane recovery areas. They are issues that RSD is now tackling in all of its schools – including the ones that weren’t damaged by Katrina.

After Katrina, RSD created a district-wide, master rebuilding plan that encompasses all aspects of the rebuilding process — including the issue of IAQ. It also includes a component for preventative maintenance and long-term planning. EPA’s IAQ Tools for Schools Program has been integral to the RSD recovery process.

Last year RSD was featured at the IAQ Tools for Schools National Symposium as a Featured School District. There we shared our story and challenges and received mentorship on how to effectively utilize the IAQ Tools for Schools program. And after we got home, we got to work. The program provided an already-established structure and framework, complete with guidelines and best practices, from which we created an RSD-specific IAQ strategy. We established an air quality team at each school, implemented recommended guidelines, prioritized remediation issues and employed focused preventative maintenance strategies. And we’re happy to report that this year RSD will be attending the Symposium again to share these successes.

We would encourage anyone who is concerned about the health of students, staff, and school buildings in their communities to attend the Symposium – January 13-15, 2011, in Washington, DC. You’ll leave inspired, informed and ready to take on the world.

About the author: Tiffany Delcour joined the Louisiana Recovery School District a little over a year ago as the IAQ coordinator. She has worked directly with EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Program as a featured school at the IAQ Tools for Schools Symposium and currently serves as a mentor to other school stakeholders.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    November 12, 2010

    Healing and Thriving: Good Idea, Good Work and Best Performance.
    Really amazing…, even now children around the world known environmental, climate change, global warming and universe black hole. Fantastic…, because past decade, The Environmentalists didn’t estimate that the children attentively this natural phenomenon. Tiffany, Your Performance be sure knocked the world and I am sure they are remembered your best serves. Congratulations….

  2. Ron permalink
    November 13, 2010

    I fully understand the importance of IAQ which is easy to provide in new buildings but difficult to design into old buildings because it simply was not considered an issue when they were originally built. The old rule of thumb of 15cu/ft fresh air per person has proven to be a huge waste of energy in commercial buildings and I can’t even begin to imagine the energy cost when you factor in high humidity and mold reduction. It is truly a challenge in an old building.

    In conjunction with the IAQ concerns what is being done about the lead based paint that is also in older buildings? Any system renovation that deals with ducting and air systems has great potential to disturb lead based paint which is incredibly dangerous to our children, even more than adults.

  3. jenny permalink
    January 27, 2011

    Thanks for this very wonderful article. Keep sharing informative details.

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