Indoor Air Quality

Improving the Indoor Air Quality of Your School

Many schools have poor indoor air quality. Air pollution does not only occur outdoors, it can happen inside too. When the air is polluted with mildew, dust, or mold, it can make kids sick with asthma, headaches,  rashes, and sometimes even more serious illnesses. By improving maintenance practices and creating better air circulation in your school, indoor air quality can be improved and air pollution reduced.This part of the program will help you find out whether your school has indoor air quality problems and help you fix them if you do.

Level One: Assess your school and form a Green Flag Team

The Green Flag School Program for Environmental Leadership

The Green Flag School assists communities improve the health of their school in four areas: Non-Toxic Products, Integrated Pest Management, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Indoor Air Quality.

To begin the Green Flag School program, every school must complete Level 1.

Complete the following five steps to create the foundation for a strong working group, and begin to establish lines of communication among students, staff, community members and administrators, and receive the Level 1 Award, the Green Flag!

  • Step 1:Build Your Green Flag Team

    Form a group of dedicated students, staff, faculty, parents, PTA/O chapters and/or community members. The Green Flag Team (GFT) should include a number of students and at least one adult member, but it is better if a whole team of adults is involved. If the team is adult-based, it should include at least one faculty member, one parent and one school staff member (school nurse, librarian, maintenance person, etc.).

    To form your group, make a list of people you think might be interested, and contact them or speak to them at a school event. Collect their contact information so you can invite them to an initial meeting. If your school already has an environmental group or club, they can become a Green Flag team.

    If necessary, once you have a few committed people, meet with your principal and decide what school groups you want to work with, such as an after or in -school environmental club, individual classes, grades, or the entire school.

  • Step 2: Conduct the Green Flag School Environmental Survey

    Complete the Green Flag School Environment Survey, designed to help you and your team evaluate your school’s environmental status. The information gathered will help you to choose an area to focus on. Students should engage in filling out the survey, as they will be more engaged in working to improve their environment if they see firsthand what it is that needs to be improved (and why!).

    Be sure to incorporate the facilities department in your survey research. Their knowledge of the inner-workings of the building, its history, and its needs will prove invaluable in your work.

  • Step 3: Hold a Meeting

    Invite the members of school community, including students, parents, teachers, and school staff and administrators to attend a first meeting through email, phone, flyers, and community newsletters. The meeting goal can be to form the Green Flag team, or it can be part of a larger gathering, such as a PTA meeting. Make an agenda, and give several people roles in the meeting, such as facilitator, note taker, greeter, attendance taker, and timekeeper. This meeting will allow you to spread the work about your goals, clue in the general public to your efforts, and connect you with community people who may serve as resources.

  • Step 4: Review your Progress with the Green Flags Coordinator

    E-mail, submit through our website, or fax your Level 1 Survey, complete with your Green Flag Team members names. Also submit a short write-up of your informational meeting. Include who was invited, who attended, and when and where the meeting occurred.

    Green Flags Coordinator

    The Center for Health, Environment and Justice

    PO Box 6806

    Falls Church, Virginia 22040 – 6806

    info@chej.org

    Phone: (703) 237 – 2249

    Fax: (703) 237 – 8389

  • Step 5: Rewards for Level One

    At the end of level one, you will receive the Green Flag, which will have four empty boxes corresponding to the four program areas to fill in as you go through the program and your school will be listed on the Green Flag website as a Green Flag school.

Level Two: Finding and Sharing Information

1. Learn about the issue:

Complete the Level Two Survey to get an in-depth look at the indoor air quality of your school. Be sure to work with the maintenance and facilities staff, school administration to access all areas of the building safely. This survey will help you assess your school’s IAQ and indicate some improvements that can be made at your school.

Read materials about Indoor Air Quality in the IAQ Resource Packet on our website to prepare for the adult presentation to students.

Read about the EPA’s Tools for Schools (TfS) program, which you will work to implement in order to win the Green Flag.

2. Share what you’ve learned:

Make presentations to educate and motivate the community. Good places to have a presentation are classes, assemblies, and after-school events. See Presentation Examples for more ideas.

3. Complete one Classroom Activity:

Use our list of Classroom Activities to choose one, or come up with your own!

4. Send all documentation to the Green Flag Coordinator:

Send the Level II survey and documentation or a brief description of the presentations and classroom activity to the CHEJ Green Flag School coordinator.

5. Rewards for Level Two:

Four free Green Flag T-shirts (more can be ordered for $13.50 each).

A description of the activities of your Green Flag team will be posted on the Green Flag website.

Level Three: Creating or Improving Policies

To receive the Level Three award for Indoor Air Quality, your Green Flag Team must:

(If you have an existing IAQ program in your school, skip to #4)

1. Find out what needs to be done:

Talk with the Green Flag Program Coordinator to review your level two survey and discuss how you can promote Indoor Air Quality improvements.

Research Indoor Air Quality policies already in place in some schools.

Review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies Tools for Schools Program.

2. Propose Tools for Schools to decision makers

Based on your research, make written recommendations to school decision-makers and submit this with a cover letter explaining your program.

Prepare to make a presentation to decision makers. Research Tools for Schools, and its benefits. Make notes to help you explain the problems and alternatives to Indoor Air Quality problems.

Make a presentation to decision makers, such as the principal, school board, or PTA, and bring along the Green Flag team to show that people are interested. At the end of the meeting, present any written materials about IAQ, Tools for Schools, and your ideas to improve school IAQ, and of course, thank the decision-makers for meeting with you.

Continue to work with the Green Flag coordinator to find ways to let your community know about your school’s indoor air quality problems, and get people to join you in promoting Tools for Schools.

3. Implementing Tools for Schools at your school and documenting the changes:

  • Your school must have researched and considered using EPA’s Tools for Schools program. (see links above)
  • You must also perform one Classroom Activities to support the program.

OR:

4. What if your school is already entered in the EPA Tools for Schools program

If your school already participates in Tools for Schools Program or conducts a school audit or survey addressing IAQ issues, you may submit copies of IAQ checklists or other school surveys or audits for review by the Green Flag Program Coordinator and/or IAQ mentor.

The audit must have been completed within one year of your school joining the Green Flag Program and be signed by a school administrator.

You must also complete one Classroom Activity, or create one of your own.

5. Rewards for Level Three:

The patch for Indoor Air Quality to add to your Flag.

A certificate of acheivement from the CHEJ Green Flag School Program.

A description of the activities of your Green Flag team will be posted on the Green Flag website.

Indoor Air Quality Resources