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  • Writer's pictureCorey Provencal

The Cost of Good Air

In 1984, the World Health Organization Committee said up to 30 percent of new and remodeled buildings worldwide have complaints related to indoor air quality. Florida is no exception.

In the subtropics of the state’s coastal areas, cooling and removing the humidity from the air inside buildings and preventing mold buildup is a year-round battle that has come with a big price tag.

For instance, Sebastian officials spent more than $250,000 to remove carpets, replace walls and rework air-circulating equipment at their Police Department headquarters. The city of Rockledge paid $88,000 last year to replenish the air quality in its fire station.

Between 1997 and 2001, the Brevard County School District spent more than $19 million to revamp, clean and replace air-conditioning systems in its offices and area schools. That doesn’t include projects involving roofs, doors or windows that impact indoor quality, nor the ongoing maintenance of air conditioning equipment.

“There are a large number of buildings that date back to the mid-1960s. It’s a challenge to take 1960s technology with air conditioning and yet continue to provide good air quality,” said Richard Smith, indoor air quality control coordinator for the district.

He said air-conditioning systems represent the largest unfunded need in ongoing school maintenance programs. “It’s always the largest chunk of our 5- or 10-year plans,” he said.

Greg Smith, assistant superintendent of operations for Indian River County schools, said the district is spending about $1 million to revamp the air-conditioning system at Thompson Elementary School in Vero Beach. Last year, the district did similar work at Highlands Elementary and Sebastian River Middle School.

Also, the Indian River County Commission recently decided to build a new municipal building, in part because of the poor air conditioning and circulation system.

“We want to address air quality concerns in the development of plans for a new building. That’s also why the Space Needs Committee has recommended an open-office design to prevent stagnant areas,” said Tom Frame, county general services supervisor. Written by: Linda Jump

•John P. Lapotaire, CIEC •Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant •Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

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