This guest blog post is authored by Bureau Veritas.
Having a plan for federal and state funding is usually the first step to securing it.
Of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, $170 billion of it is allocated to educational institutions; $130 billion will be reserved for K-12 and $40 billion for higher education.
These funds are earmarked for specific endeavors in educational facilities with the overall goal of limiting the spread of coronavirus. K-12 schools will be able to use this money to improve ventilation, reduce class sizes to support physical distancing, hire support staff, and purchase supplies needed to protect students and teachers.
The stimulus package outlines these guidelines for higher education institutions:
“The legislation dictates that schools that receive assistance must use a portion of the funds to implement evidence-based practices to monitor and suppress coronavirus in accordance with public health guidelines.”
Understanding the purpose of the stimulus can help educational institutions present their needs so that they are poised for approval. Many schools across the country have remained closed for in-person classes for the 2020-21 school year and some have reopened at reduced capacity. Few opened in full operation, and as a result, most educational facilities and their building systems have spent more than a year running outside of design intent.
Furthermore, schools in the United States are notoriously underfunded, leaving many to make do, defer maintenance and often patch some serious issues. This stimulus package may be a great opportunity for many of these schools.
The first step toward stimulus money is getting a realistic picture of the current facility condition. This can be done a couple of different ways.
If the facility’s CMMS is fully operational, the data necessary to prove the building’s need for improvement can be collected with the reports it generates. A CMMS that has a complete inventory of the facility’s equipment and is fully connected to the building systems can provide accurate, real-time information.
A CMMS that is primarily used as a ticketing system will not be able to provide the level of data needed. In that case, engaging a building systems professional to assess the facility’s condition is the way to go. The facility condition assessment can determine a list of repair and maintenance recommendations. That list can even be prioritized based on stimulus package requirements. Then, when the report/plan is reviewed for approval, the committee sees that the school is in line with the specific objectives.
Once you have a complete picture of the facility, you can compare it to the CDC’s recommendations for building ventilation and distancing, which includes these actions:
In addition to ventilation, schools should also consider physical distancing expectations. Many schools do not have sufficient space to comply with federal and state reopening guidelines. Creating more space for students and additional classes, not only places a significant burden on staffing needs, but on the building as well. Adding more, larger classrooms can help improve physical distancing and thereby reduce coronavirus transmission, but few if any schools have funding available for that type of capital improvement.
Here are some projects to consider when applying for stimulus package funds:
Focusing the school’s request for funding on these requirements show that the school is working toward improving those factors considered to be the greatest contributors to the spread of coronavirus.
The situation is different, but the story is the same. What used to be justifying the need for federal and state funding based on energy efficiency is now based on slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Master plans and improvement plans focused on healthier air standards and better hygiene practices are poised for success with funding review committees.
Just like those that focused on energy efficiency used to be. While there is no guarantee, it is the clear precedent.
As schools are preparing for the impending release of stimulus funding and cope with the demands of opening as quickly and as safely as possible, Bureau Veritas and DudecSolutions can help.
It is imperative that schools have a well-thought-through plan when applying to receive stimulus funding. Our facility experts can help schools compare their building’s current system and performance data points with the recommendations of the CDC, federal and state authorities. That way, when review committees are assessing plans for improvements, they will be better positioned for approval.