Connecticut legislators heard the feedback from public school districts and the private sector technical vendors loud and clear, passing SB-5, which includes much-needed relief (financial, schedule, procurement) to the requirements to inspect and evaluate heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in Connecticut public schools in 2024. Presuming approval from the Governor, SB-5, in relevant part, amends CGS § 10-220(d)(3), effective July 1, 2024.  As described below, the bill extends the HVAC assessment requirements over five years instead of one, expands the types of qualified technicians that can perform the assessments and offers financial support for the costs of the assessments through the existing Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) grant program.

Importantly, districts’ requirements to complete the annual IAQ inspections and evaluations at each school (including the implementation and use of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Tools for Schools” program) are not affected by SB-5 and remain effective in 2024 and beyond.

We previously summarized  last year’s amendments to CGS § 10-220(d) that established a January 1, 2025 deadline by which HVAC inspections and evaluations were to be completed for every CT public school building (which was to be repeated every five years thereafter). SB-5 arose in response to significant concerns raised about the obstacles to timely complete HVAC inspections and evaluations.  Specifically, many Boards of Education (BOEs) faced time and staff limitations and have been unable to identify and/or hire third party HVAC support from technicians that meet the law’s licensure/certification requirements. Even if school districts were able to identify a technician that met the law’s qualifications, many were booked well beyond the January 1, 2025 deadline.  The legislature also recognized that private sector businesses were struggling to staff personnel given the financial and hiring impacts from a schedule that requires a surge in demand every five years and corresponding lulls in years where HVAC assessments are not required for schools.

2024 Amendments to CGS §§ 10-220(d)(3) and 10-265r(b)(3) per SB-5:

Schedule Relief (HVAC)

  • BOEs now must complete the HVAC inspections and evaluations for all school buildings by June 30, 2030 (a significant extension to the prior deadline of January 1, 2025).
  • BOEs must ensure that at least 20% of their schools complete the HVAC inspections and evaluations in each year until June 30, 2030, by which time the HVAC systems at all schools must have been assessed.
School Year Ending June 30Minimum Percentage of Schools Assessed (Total)
2025-202620% (20%)
2026-202720% (40%)
2027-202820% (60%)
2028-202920% (80%)
2029-203020% (100%)
  • For the first year of implementation, the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) can waive these provisions (i.e., <20% of schools can be assessed by June 30, 2026, but 40% must nevertheless be assessed by June 30, 2027) if:
    • qualified HVAC technicians are unavailable in the first school year of implementation, or
    • a BOE has actually scheduled an inspection or evaluation but it is for a date in the subsequent school year.
  • Although not directly affecting districts, SB-5 also extended the run (to July 1, 2030) of the IAQ Working Group, legislatively created by Public Act 22-118, and which advises the legislature on recommendations related to IAQ in school buildings.

Procurement Relief

  • The pool of qualified technicians to conduct HVAC inspections and evaluations is expanded to include “a mechanical contractor licensed in heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.”

Financial Relief

  • Under CGS § 10-265r(b)(3), grant applicants for the existing IAQ grant program are no longer required to certify that they have complied with the HVAC inspections and evaluations if the objective of the grant is to receive funding to perform the HVAC inspection and evaluation.  The requirement to certify compliance with the HVAC inspection and evaluation remains in place for all other grant applications (e.g., funding for a capital expenditure to improve HVAC).

Recommendations:

  • School districts should collaborate with their BOE and town(s) to plan budgets that allow HVAC inspections and assessments for 20% of school buildings in the 2025-2026 school year and annually thereafter.
  • Communicate with existing environmental/engineering consultants to determine whether they may have qualified personnel meeting the broader definition of HVAC technician to conduct HVAC inspections and evaluations.
  • Reevaluate grant opportunities from DAS in light of the expanded timeframe and application criteria under CGS § 10-265r(b)(3).
  • Continue to pursue and comply with mandated Tools for Schools and other statutory IAQ requirements, which SB-5 does not change. This means all schools must undergo a compliant IAQ inspection and evaluation process and make such reports available on their respective websites and to DAS by end of 2024.  The IAQ requirements remain a significant undertaking and should become the IAQ/HVAC compliance priority for districts in 2024 now that schedule relief for the HVAC assessments has been provided.

As always, reach out to a Shipman environmental lawyer today with any questions.

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Photo of Alfredo G. Fernández Alfredo G. Fernández

A former aerospace engineer, Alfredo focuses his practice on regulatory compliance and transactional due diligence with respect to a wide range of federal, state and international environmental, health and safety laws.  Alfredo regularly counsels clients regarding new and existing chemicals under the Toxic…

A former aerospace engineer, Alfredo focuses his practice on regulatory compliance and transactional due diligence with respect to a wide range of federal, state and international environmental, health and safety laws.  Alfredo regularly counsels clients regarding new and existing chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), “Superfund” liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), chemical crises under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), and workplace safety under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.  Alfredo also has experience with unique investigation and remediation issues associated with emerging contaminants, state “Brownfields” programs and the “Connecticut Transfer Act.”

Alfredo’s complete biography can be found here.

Photo of Sarah Kettenmann Sarah Kettenmann

Sarah is a member of Shipman’s Environmental Practice Group where she assists clients by creating technical and legal solutions to complex regulatory challenges. Sarah maintains a robust regulatory practice, and helps corporate clients navigate enforcement actions brought under the Toxic Substances Control Act…

Sarah is a member of Shipman’s Environmental Practice Group where she assists clients by creating technical and legal solutions to complex regulatory challenges. Sarah maintains a robust regulatory practice, and helps corporate clients navigate enforcement actions brought under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Sarah also helps clients comply with federal and state environmental, health, and safety (EHS) protocols, including regulatory compliance, auditing, and due diligence. She has assisted pesticide clients obtain favorable settlements for data compensation disputes under FIFRA arbitration regulations.