A Study Guide for Spring School Projects

Just as school project bidding was coming to a close, schools and contractors alike were surprised to discover that retrofitting might be happening sooner rather than later. HVAC retrofitting is common for schools and typically accomplished over summer break. However, due to COVID-19-related closures this year, the task of retrofitting these institutions may be happening now for some contractors.

Please know that Kele is open and has the in-stock inventory you need for these projects, and we ship same day.

We also want to offer some suggestions that will help keep labor costs down and things to consider when approaching three critical areas within the realm of school retrofitting: air quality, ventilation/air handling equipment, and pneumatics. When considering a school retrofit job, here are a few tips for value-engineering approaches that may save schools and contractors time and money:

Air Quality

  • ASHRAE Standard 62 recommends a minimum of 20 CFM per occupant of outside air. If the outside air intake is based on full occupancy, significant energy is wasted on temperature conditioning the extra outside air. ASHRAE 62 now allows the use of CO2 sensors to approximate the occupancy of an area, decreasing the energy load. An outside CO2 reading may be necessary as ventilation should start when the inside is 700ppm above the outside level.
  • Mold is a particular worry for schools because it builds up on coils, in condensate pans, or in walls. All of these should be checked and cleaned periodically. In addition, use a water detector in areas where water collects.

Ventilation and air handling/unitary equipment

  • Inspect and/or install new filters, but also check ductwork for split seams and ineffective or missing insulation. In addition, install a differential pressure gauge or transmitter across filters to help school maintenance know when (or when not) to chance or clean filters.
  • Dampers and linages are often out of adjustment or not working at all. Fix dampers and make a huge difference in comfort and energy savings.
  • Install or verify the occupied/unoccupied control and sequence of operation for all HVAC equipment. Programmable thermostats or time clocks, if applicable, are well worth the money and return a quick payback. Remember, wiring is no problem with wireless controls.


  • There are many pneumatic controls out there; we know and love them. Check the compressor cycle rate and the filter/dryer assembly. Check for oil or water in the lines. Rebuilding and/or replacing the pneumatic controls is certainly doable, and you can find the parts at Kele if you need them.
  • Encourage conversion to electronic/electric DDC controls if the school needs better/tighter control via the building automation systems or get electric-to-pneumatic (and vice-versa) transducers to tie the pneumatics to the BAS.

Kele can supply key components that contractors need in order to successfully retrofit a school’s HVAC system. Kele is able to streamline the project process and give you the project support you need to get you from start to finish. Especially with the roll out of My Project Portal, getting your BOMs uploaded has never been easier. We want to help you make this early school project season efficient and cost effective.

Give Kele a call at 888.397.5353 or shop on kele.com today!

2 thoughts on “A Study Guide for Spring School Projects

  1. HVAC design for schools need to change – children became asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19

    “But there’s also the potential for airborne transmission,” Bahnfleth said. “And if viruses that are viable are in those droplets that you’re producing, some of them will be small enough that they will stay airborne for a long time. So, it’s not impossible that infectious particles in the air could stay aloft long enough to be collected, say at the return grille of an HVAC system, go through a duct, and infect someone in a different space.”


    1. Dan, thank you for reading and for your comment. It will definitely be interesting to see if the current situation affects standards or requirements for HVAC systems in public facilities like schools. If that happens, Kele and our technical service team will be ready to help. Stay safe.

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