Johnson Controls, UL and SafeTraces Partner to Evaluate Indoor Air Quality of K-12 Schools

The companies will evaluate the effectiveness of indoor air quality, ventilation and filtration systems, and infection control strategies for airborne diseases including coronaviruses, in K-12 schools.

MILWAUKEE — Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) announces it will pair its OpenBlue Healthy Buildings portfolio with the new collaboration between UL and SafeTraces.

In March 2021, UL, the global safety science leader, and SafeTraces, a market leader in DNA-based safety technology, announced a new program to evaluate the effectiveness of their indoor air quality, ventilation and filtration systems, and infection control strategies for airborne diseases including coronaviruses, in K-12 schools.

Through the program, Johnson Controls, UL and SafeTraces will leverage science-based indoor air quality and infection risk assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of mechanical systems in K-12 schools, according to the announcement.

Johnson Controls is said to be the first in its industry to leverage data provided by UL and SafeTraces to collaborate with K-12 administrators to address any gaps and create a blueprint for a comprehensive, long-term clean air strategy.

“Education authorities, like many of us, are aware of and more responsive to the critical need to ensure healthy school buildings. But there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy because school districts and the buildings they run are not homogenous,” says Nate Manning, Johnson Controls’ president of building solutions North America. “Science-based data — from air quality and risk assessments to building connected technology solutions — will drive each component of this program, which will bring peace of mind to students, teachers, and families as schools reopen.”

Johnson Controls offers K-12 administrators tailored services for the full building lifecycle through OpenBlue Schools, a complete suite of connected solutions that deliver impactful sustainability, new student experiences, and respectful safety and security that it says combines more than 135 years of building experience with cutting-edge technology.

OpenBlue Schools integrates building IT, communications, administration and classroom learning systems with core building systems to create smart, connected schools. Examples of OpenBlue Schools solutions include predictive maintenance, contract tracing, social distance monitoring, mask detection and skin temperature screening.

“K-12 administrators and their facility managers are held to the highest standards of safety and rapidly evolving health regulation like never before. Through UL’s Healthy Building program, we have learned how the facility leaders who manage what they measure have far greater success managing risk than those who only address issues as they arise,” says Sean McCrady, director in UL’s Assets and Sustainability Performance, Real Estate and Properties group. “Not only will we equip K-12 administrators with independent evidence of the efficacy of their systems, but we can also now give them guidance to enhance their building operations into the future.”

UL’s Healthy Building program provides indoor environmental quality, energy and sustainability services for the built environment. In this instance, UL says its assessment consists of a comprehensive data review, HVAC system inspection, air quality testing, ventilation assessment, exhaust system verification, and risk assessment via SafeTraces veriDARTTM technology.

veriDARTTM by SafeTraces is said to be the first aerosol-based solution for verifying HVAC system performance for health and safety in real world environments. With support from the National Institutes of Health and other leading research partners, veriDART leverages patented DNA-tagged bioaerosol tracers that safely simulate airborne pathogen mobility and exposure in order to identify potential infection hotspots, test ventilation and filtration efficacy, and inform safety and financial planning with independent science-based performance data.

“The question on every parent’s, teacher’s, and staff member’s mind today is — is my school safe to return to and how will we ensure it’s safe in the future?” says Erik Malmstrom, SafeTraces CEO. “veriDART is the best equipped solution in the marketplace to answer these questions for SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and other airborne diseases. We’re thrilled to partner with Johnson Controls and UL to deliver the gold standard program for school health and safety during the pandemic and beyond.”

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