Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

HFI release 3.7

March 7, 2011

HFI Promotes ''Walk-through'' for School IAQ Improvement

Boise ID - Building on the concept of Management By Walking Around (MBWA) - in which managers ‘walk around’ workplaces, observe, and talk with employees to foster better understanding, management and process improvements - The Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI) recommends walking around schools, observing conditions, talking with staff, and taking simple measurements to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in existing schools as featured in the one-hour presentation, “The Virtual School Walkthrough: Identifying and Solving Common Indoor Air Quality Problems” produced by the non-profit Northwest Clean Air Agency and available for viewing at http://www.nwcleanair.org/aqprograms/indoorAir.htm or on DVD.

“This presentation is a practical gold mine of what to look for to improve indoor air quality as you simply walk through school environments,” said Allen Rathey, president of HFI. “It embraces the principles of IEHA’s Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM) program targeting continuous environmental improvement through measurement involving simplified use of devices such as particle counters and carbon dioxide detectors.”

The 58-minute presentation by Rich Prill of the Washington State University Extension Energy Program, and Dave Blake of the Northwest Clean Air Agency is aimed at promoting IAQ program development in schools nationwide. Prill and Blake gave the original presentation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s IAQ Tools for Schools Symposium in Washington, D.C., where it received highly positive evaluations. Below is a summary of key points regarding the walk-through ‘philosophy’:

• Have patience when seeking buy-in from administrators for IAQ program development. Remember, they are just learning about this. Don’t burn any bridges.

• Walk-throughs are non-regulatory and should be non-threatening.

• Walk-throughs are a practical learning experience for staff that builds awareness, confidence and skills – essential elements of a sustainable IAQ program.

• Walk-throughs send a positive message to staff and parents.

• Walk-throughs are an essential step to providing baseline information to shape IAQ program content and priorities.

• Walk-throughs are not a science project – look for ‘good practices’ related to commonsense benchmarks: dry, clean, comfortable, pollutants controlled, adequate ventilation.

• Measurements taken must yield useful information – or don’t bother.

• When measurements are taken, post results for staff right away. No secrets.

• Point out potential problems, but don’t overreact or be alarmist (“It’s not a problem unless it’s a problem”).

• Have a post-walk-through debriefing: Review and build on existing ‘good practices’ to create an IAQ program for the school.

• Adopt achievable IAQ program elements to address issues.

• Offer continued support to school personnel.

To order the free DVD, contact Dave Blake at dave@nwcleanair.org, or 360-428-1617 x212.

“This tool can be used by facilities and cleaning professionals to improve all facets of operations and cleaning related to IAQ,” said Rathey. “It is highly recommended.” HFI will be promoting the DVD and concept on its website at www.healthyfacilities.com.