The Use of ESSER Funding for Asset Management Tasks

  • November 15, 2022
  • by admin

This brief article provides justification for why the use of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding is appropriate for facility asset management tasks.  It explains how facility asset management leads to the most cost effective short and long-term maintenance of numerous facility systems, all of which have a direct and positive effect on facility mission capability and indoor air quality.

Facility asset management refers to the discipline of facility managers in managing their facilities as assets through their lifecycle, and making data driven, cost effective spending decisions aimed at maximizing the mission effectiveness of their facilities.  Several primary building blocks of facility asset management include facility asset inventory, asset condition assessment, and the use of this inventory and condition data to create databases and related management tools used for short-term and long-term maintenance project planning.

A review of ESSER approval and guidance documents from several state education systems reveals references to school facility repairs and improvements that enable safe operation of schools,  reduce the risk of virus transmission, and reduce exposure to environmental health hazards, all of which supports student health.  Additionally, the guidance allows inspection, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities.  It is manifestly true that asset inventories and condition assessments generate data for the specific purpose of planning, repairs, and improvements that will enable safe operations, reduce risk of virus transmission and limit student exposure to environmental health hazards. Such project planning ensures the most cost effective expenditure of resources to correct the most significant deficiencies and make the biggest improvements in any facility.  Thus, these building blocks of inventory and assessment support the overall goal of mission effectiveness for any facility or facility portfolio.

One of the hallmarks or bench marks of mission effectiveness in any facility is indoor air quality (IAQ).  Without good IAQ a facility will be avoided or become associated by occupants with dangerous or unpleasant conditions that lead to negative health effects.  Furthermore, dozens of studies over decades have shown causal links between student achievement and indoor learning environments.  IAQ may be narrowly conceived as only influenced by heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment, but numerous other facility systems affect indoor air quality.  Roof integrity is a significant driver of IAQ since water infiltration from roof leaks or clogged drainage systems often leads to spoiled IAQ.  Flooring condition is a driver of IAQ since soiled flooring can harbor contaminants and lead to unpleasant odors.  Paint condition is a driver of IAQ since paint ingredients, especially lead, and the condition of older coatings can introduce airborne contaminants.  Restroom conditions are a driver of IAQ since old, unmaintained fixtures and old finishes can introduce contaminants and unpleasant odors.  Building automation controls are a significant driver of IAQ since the controls have a primary bearing on the quality of air in occupied spaces.  Exterior envelope systems such as windows, exterior finishes and doors drive IAQ by preventing pest infiltration and unconditioned outdoor air infiltration.  Wastewater and stormwater conveyance systems drive IAQ by directing and keeping water-borne contaminants and standing water away from occupied spaces.  And many of these facility systems take for granted the provision of well-tuned electrical distribution, in the absence of which these other systems cannot or will not function as designed.  Thus, the provision of good IAQ is directly related to the condition of many facility systems, which is a function of well-planned short and long-term maintenance of those systems.

In summary, the use of ESSER funding is appropriate for facility asset management tasks like asset inventory, condition assessment, and maintenance planning because these tasks support mission effectiveness and the benchmark of good indoor air quality.  These asset management tasks have a direct impact on the ability of facility managers to make good decisions about the short and long term maintenance of their facilities and this well-informed maintenance is exactly what is needed to keep facility systems in top shape to facilitate student learning.