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How to Get a School IAQ Project Started

Committing to find funding to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) can be a daunting task for any school administrator. Here’s a quick primer on some different ways contractors and school administrators can find the funding to get a project off the ground and locate a SMACNA member contractor to begin collaborating with on a potential project.

Project Planning and Scope

Committing to find funding to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) can be a daunting task for any school administrator. Here’s a quick primer on some different ways contractors and school administrators can find the funding to get a project off the ground. Also, when you are ready to launch a project, take a moment to search for a SMACNA member contractor in your area. 

After assessing the state of your current system, lay out a comprehensive plan in cooperation with a professional HVAC contractor that meets your desired targets for air quality improvements within your school building. A contractor will not only assist you in selecting the best possible solutions in terms of equipment and infrastructure, but will also inform you of any possible environmental hazards attached to any particular renovation project.

Formalize your project plan and schedule, and then carefully follow your plan to improve conditions in the school for all occupants, including those doing the upgrades and retrofits. Also, identify and select an experienced HVAC contractor you wish to employ on this project.

Following the process above, advance the project towards successful completion.

How Schools Can Acquire Funding

As building owners, especially school districts, heighten their focus on IAQ, governments on the local, state and federal levels are making unprecedented government funding available to help school districts address IAQ challenges. The following are funding options for school administrators to consider and pursue.

Community Facilities programs

  • Support essential community infrastructure in rural areas, including schools, through loans, grants, and loan guarantees.

Electric programs

  • Initiatives provide reliable, affordable electricity in rural areas, including energy efficiency lending in partnership with local utilities for school retrofits.

Energy Audit Programs

  • Initiatives that support energy audits, renewable energy development, energy efficiency improvements, and installing renewable energy systems, including schools. For more information, see the program homepage.

Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund

  • Supplemental Funding Through the Governors Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund
  • A $122 Billion fund for schools to draw upon in completing various infrastructure projects, including the improvement of School IAQ. The use of both funds is governed by existing guidelines by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • How Do Local Boards of Education Apply for these Funds?
    • Please reach out to your state board of education on the state-specific means of utilizing the funds for project completion.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) Grants for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Improvements at Public School Facilities. The IIJA provides $500 million for competitive grants to make energy efficiency, renewable energy upgrades, and improvements at public schools. Eligible uses include energy efficiency (envelope, HVAC, lighting, controls, etc.), ventilation, six renewable energy, alternative vehicles, and alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure improvements. A Funding Opportunity Announcement is expected to be released in late summer/early fall 2022 and posted at

State Energy Program (SEP)

  • Program that provides annual funding to 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories to support a nationwide infrastructure of state energy offices. SEP supports public facilities, including K-12 schools and universities. Find your state energy office for information on energy policies, programs, and financial incentives.

State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF)


  • SLFRF, a part of the American Rescue Plan, delivers $350 billion to state, local, and Tribal governments across the country to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency. SLFRF funds may be used to support schools, including improvements or new construction of facilities in specific communities, consistent with program requirements. Please see the Overview of the Final Rule and the Final Rule itself. The Treasury Department can assist anyone with questions on this project.

SMACNA will continue to update this page with additional funding opportunities as they arise, as well as feature projects that many of our contractors have completed. See related content below.