infection prevention in schools

Making the Business Case for Infection Prevention in Schools

Even as the pandemic has receded into our everyday consciousness, school districts worldwide remain attuned to the importance of indoor air quality and limiting the spread of infectious diseases.

Traditional methods of disinfection can be expensive and time-consuming, but disinfection doesn’t have to break the budget — in fact, it can save you money. Today, we’ll make the business case for using UV-C disinfection in schools.

Increased Health = Increased Education

In one of the five largest US school districts, R-Zero recently installed air disinfection systems in seven schools and measured the presence of SARS-Covid 2 in the wastewater. When compared to schools without air disinfection, we saw that R-Zero technology reduced the microbial load of SARS-Covid 2 in the air by over 50%.

One silver lining of the pandemic is how much it has shown us that annual viruses like cold and flu don’t have to be a yearly fact of life. Social distancing showed us it was possible to lower viral loads in schools, which in turn makes schools work better for both students and staff. A low viral load lowers student absences, which improves student outcomes and school funding. Likewise, lower teacher absences reduce disruption for students and reduce the school’s substitute budget.

Evaluating UV-C

When you evaluate UV-C, you need to examine it on two fronts: effectiveness and sustainability.

Regarding efficacy, UV-C allows you to disinfect spaces rapidly. It works quickly on air and surface disinfection, often at 99% or higher efficacy in a few minutes. It’s also autonomous, which removes the dependence on manual human action. The final aspect of efficacy is that it’s continuous. UV-C devices that operate at a human-safe wavelength of far-UV or operate above people’s heads can disinfect air and surfaces in real-time throughout the day, even when a space is occupied.

Regarding sustainability, UV-C is much more energy efficient than using your HVAC system to pump fresh air into a room. You can get the same level of microbial reduction with 95% less energy than HVAC. In addition to saving energy, UV-C is chemical-free. There are none of the associated negative externalities of chemicals on the environment, and the overall waste generated is significantly less, with no sanitizing wipes or temporary filters necessary.

ROI for UV-C in Schools

For a typical school, protecting the highest risk spaces can pay for itself within the first year, purely out of the operational savings from reducing the burden on maintenance staff and the need for disinfecting chemicals.

ROI for an Example High School

A typical 900-person high school contains many high-risk, high-density spaces where airborne illness can be transmitted. High-density spaces like a teacher’s lounge or a large classroom, as well as high-activity spaces like gyms and auditoriums, increase the risk of transmitting illness.

The exact risk in each school varies depending on ventilation and climate, and R-Zero will work with you to find the exact needs of your specific environment. Our ROI calculator can estimate your benefits, but if you choose to work with us, we will measure your school’s specific environment with AI risk-driven models and sensors to provide precise targeting based on occupancy, CO2 levels, and other factors.

In this 900-person school example, the high-risk spaces would total about 64,000 square feet, and we’d recommend 53 Beams and 2 Vives to produce eight air changes per hour, following ASHRAE recommendations.

The first-year implementation costs would be about $55,000 for the 55 units, and with reduced janitorial and filtering costs, we estimate that the savings would be about 90 cents per square foot every year, totaling a savings of $57,000 per year for the high-risk spaces. Even before factoring in the savings of reduced HVAC circulation, that provides a significant first-year ROI.

However, the major school savings lie in the HVAC system. If you run your HVAC system more than necessary to reduce infection via air cycling, you spend a lot of money on constantly heating or cooling outside air. UV-C allows you to clean air in place at a significantly lower cost. Beam, for example, uses about as much energy as a laptop.  

Talk to the R-Zero Team Today

Are you ready to invest in your school’s health and maximize your ROI on disinfection costs?

Contact us to get a personal estimate of how we can meet your needs, and clean your air with UV-C.

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