This week on the Bright Ideas series presented by Acuity Brands®, we continue our discussion of ultraviolet lighting as a disinfection technology*. Gary Trott, Vice President of Technology, has returned–– as has Cheryl English, Vice President of Public Policy.
Since our last chat with Gary, there has been a huge increase in interest from K-12 schools in UV disinfection technology. Fortunately, there is a lot of money from the federal government’s recent coronavirus relief packages that can help fund those bids. It’s hard to imagine any other technology that could possibly be more impactful, either immediately or in the long-term, to help inactivate pathogens** in schools, than ultraviolet lighting technology.
THREE PIECES OF LEGISLATION TO NOTE:
The most recent pieces of legislation that would aid schools seeking to fund installations of new UV disinfection technologies are:
- The CARES Act from March 2020, allocating $30B
- The Coronavirus Relief Act from December 2020, allocating $82B
- The American Recovery Plan from March 2021, allocating $165B
Each piece of legislation has funding specifically for education–– initially to help conduct remote learning, and now to help reopen schools in a safe and sanitary manner.
FOUR KEY AREAS OF ALLOCATION IN THESE BILLS
- $190.3B: Elementary and Secondary School Fund (ESSER)
- K-12 schools will receive the majority of funds from these bills.
- $4.2B: Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER)
- This money is to be used at the governor’s discretion wherever it’s deemed most needed, be it daycares or mental health centers or educator salaries.
- $5.6B Emergency Assistance to NonPublic School Fund (EANS)
- This portion will go largely to aid private schools.
- $75.6B: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEER)
- The second-largest portion of these funds will go toward aiding colleges and universities.
In addition to these amounts, another avenue for obtaining assistance in paying for these technologies is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has a variety of funding mechanisms. However, Germicidal Ultraviolet Lighting (GUV) is not currently recognized in FEMA’s category for disinfection and sanitation supplies. Many individuals are currently working to remedy that, but in the meantime FEMA did add additional categories that can allocate funds to state or local governments for schools and for public health and safety.
Additionally, there is a program for commercial businesses under QIP and the CARES Act that Cheryl has discussed on this series before. Private schools or daycare centers can apply for tax deductions to fully cover new UV disinfection technologies in their facilities, which means in the long run they’ll really only have to pay for the labor costs to install these systems.
Lastly, in the new Infrastructure Bill, it is expected that there will be allocated funds for schools (though details have yet to be determined). Regardless, it is yet another opportunity for schools to take advantage of. Lighting distributors should work with their local education agencies to look at relief legislation and FEMA funds to determine how much funding is available to them.
WHAT KINDS OF ULTRAVIOLET DISINFECTION TECHNOLOGIES COULD BE DEPLOYED IN SCHOOLS?
As Gary previously discussed on the Bright Ideas series, there’s no single UV disinfection installation that is best for all building types, including educational facilities. There’s a wide variety of room sizes, activities, and spatial usage–– so any one of three different styles of UV disinfection lighting styles may be optimal for different areas.
- Care222® Technology treats air and surfaces constantly with 222 nanometer wavelength light, and allows for occupants to be present while the technology works.
- EvolAIR UV™ Technology pulls air up into a troffer-like device to be treated and then recirculated. This technology can treat a space while occupants are present as the technology is designed not to emit UV into the space.
- Lastly, PulseX™ is a useful technology that utilizes a broadband UV spectrum to rapidly treat a space when people are not present. This could be ideal for regular usage once per weekend in a closed school building, for example.
It’s important for contractors and distributors to know when deploying these technologies that they shouldn’t be handled identically to more traditional lighting. These fixtures may power up the same way as standard lights, but they are applied very differently.
For a safe and effective installation, it’s important to work with trusted, educated partners who can help design the lighting and controls customized according to the space and the end-user’s needs.
APPLYING FOR THE FEDERAL FUNDING TO EMPLOY THESE TECHNOLOGIES
Application processes for these funds are going to vary state-by-state, so it’s recommended that distributors work directly with their state agencies, local education offices, and school boards. In addition to dividing the funds according to the types of schools, many of these bills are also going to efforts to improve diversity or aid underprivileged populations, and there could be a lot of regional opportunities for any of these installations to improve these programs.
If they haven’t already, distributors should start collaborating with local schools to determine whether UV light disinfection technology is a priority for them. If it isn’t, it might be worth investigating why.
It’s possible that many school boards may not fully fathom the benefits these technologies could provide. Not only do these installations aid in pathogen load reduction**, but when the solutions include higher-quality LED lighting they can also improve student performance. Studies have shown that children actually perform better and achieve higher test scores under better quality light.
Reduced energy consumption by LED lighting can also reduce electrical costs for these K-12 schools as well, which provides more funding for increased lighting improvements or other reinvestments in the school system.
In short, this technology is not only a valuable resource to improve educational facilities–– it’s also an exciting new development for kids and teachers alike who can benefit from the support of wellness in schools. Parents should lobby schools for their fair share of this funding, and those schools should make sure to take advantage of the funding they are due.
Educators, contractors, and distributors who want to determine their regional opportunities based on the allocation of these funds can visit acuitybrands.com/uvdisinfection. Anyone who is interested in learning more can also stick around for next week’s episode, where we will discuss lighting and control strategies for K-12 schools that will keep renovations on time and on-budget.
*All references to “disinfection” are referring generally to the reduction of pathogenic bioburden and are not intended to refer to any specific definition of the term as may be used for other purposes by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Reduction of the pathogenic bioburden is a function of fixture run time and the distance to the UV light source, airflow, room size, shadow areas and/or other factors, and the level of reduction will vary within a specific space. This fixture is not intended for use in the cure, mitigation or prevention of disease and is not certified or approved for use as a medical device by the FDA. It is the obligation of the end-user to consult with a qualified Professional Engineer and a Certified Industrial Hygienist, if applicable, to determine whether this fixture meets the applicable requirements for system performance, code compliance, safety (including safety and hazard alerting signs), suitability and effectiveness for use in a particular application design. In no event will Acuity Brands Lighting be responsible for any loss resulting from any use of this fixture in an application design.
**Refer to product specification sheets at acuitybrands.com/UV-Products for efficacy claims and claim substantiation regarding specific products and pathogens.
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