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Johnson Controls, UL and SafeTraces team to help K-12 schools assess indoor air quality

Sept. 2, 2021
Through an industry-first partnership, K-12 administrators can collaborate with Johnson Controls to address gaps and create a blueprint for a comprehensive, long-term clean air strategy using independent data from UL and SafeTraces as a guide.

Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) today announced it will pair its OpenBlue Healthy Buildings systems offering with a new collaboration involving global safety science expert UL and SafeTraces.

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

Through the newly announced 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.

Johnson Controls says it is 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," observed Nate Manning, Johnson Controls' President of Building Solutions North America.

Manning added, "Science-based data -- from air quality and risk assessments to building connected technology solutions ꟷ will drive each component of this program, which will bring peace of mind to students, teachers, and families as schools reopen."

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

A robust collaboration

Working together, the three specialist partners in healthy buildings say the now offer K-12 schools a holistic program to create healthy classroom and campus environments.

"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," explained Sean McCrady, director in UL's Assets and Sustainability Performance, Real Estate and Properties group.

UL's Healthy Building program provides indoor environmental quality, energy and sustainability services for the built environment.

In this instance, UL's assessment consists of a comprehensive data review, HVAC system inspection, air quality testing, ventilation assessment, exhaust system verification, and risk assessment via SafeTraces veriDART technology.

McCrady continued, "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."

veriDART by SafeTraces verifies safe HVAC

As core component of UL's Healthy Building program, veriDART by SafeTraces is billed as 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?" said 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."

Johnson Controls OpenBlue Schools is integrative

For its part in the collaboration, Johnson Controls' OpenBlue Schools solution will integrate overall 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.

"Johnson Controls is the global leader in building data, UL is the global safety science leader, and SafeTraces is an emerging leader in building performance verification. Together, we can deliver science-based insights and actionable data analytics with Johnson Controls complete suite of connected solutions to help administrators manage operations more systematically, efficiently, and sustainably," summed up Johnson Controls' Manning.

He concluded, "Through our combined capabilities, we can empower building owners to transform their spaces and provide healthy environments confidently. Keeping our schools safe is imperative, but only the beginning. The future possibilities are boundless."

For more information, visit:

https://www.johnsoncontrols.com/openblue/openblue-clean-air

https://www.johnsoncontrols.com/industries/k-12-education

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