The Learning Project

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In March 2020, we were all unaware of the changes we would have to make due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus presented some significant challenges to school systems around the country and in Massachusetts. The ability for schools to reopen was a prime concern – and upgrading the quality of the indoor air was key. Schools are often on a tight budget, and the HVAC system usually falls to the bottom of the priority list. The coronavirus pandemic might just change those priorities.

Here at Lavallee Systems, we get more calls from schools and businesses looking for a viable, affordable option for upgrading and redesigning their HVAC systems. One of the schools we received a call from was The Learning Project Elementary School.

The Learning Project was founded in 1973 by Michael McCord and a group of people who believed in a small school’s unique ability to empower young children in extraordinary ways. In 1979, the school opened its doors at its present location on Marlborough Street. Through the years, the school has gradually made a number of significant changes to the structure, and in 2020 improving the building’s air circulation became essential. They needed to incorporate a fresh air ventilation system, which would allow the students and staff to return to in-person learning as soon as possible.

“Adding an air exchange and purification system was a prerequisite to returning the students to school.

Sam, Dale, and their teams were a pleasure to work with throughout the planning and installation and made getting our job finished a priority.

Having a single source for HVAC and electrical was a great help.”

Elisabeth McCord, The Learning Project


When our HVAC and Electrical teams met with The Learning Project team, we discussed their immediate needs and what we would do to keep the students and staff healthy and safe in their learning environment. Together, we designed a fresh air system that would not only install fresh air but would be sure to circulate throughout the six levels of the building.

We brought Woodland Contracting to handle the supporting work necessary to get the systems in place. With the right design and teams, we started on the project.

The project consisted of several areas of work to create a healthy environment and protect students and staff by using improved filtration systems. We installed 10 ERV’s (Energy Recovery Ventilators) with heaters throughout the building. The ERVs connect to the ducts for air intake and exhaust. By way of two fans, ERV’s draw clean, fresh air into the school and remove stale air. RenewAire ERV systems feature a heat exchanger, facilitating the transference of heat and moisture between the air streams. The installation of these ERV systems enhances the IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) and helps reduce the spread of viruses such as COVID-19.

Included in the design were two UV air purification lights installed in the ducts. The HALO-LED is the industry’s first LED in-duct, whole-home, and building air purification system that is mercury-free and zero ozone compliant. The HALO-LED proactively treats every cubic inch of air in the space, reducing airborne and surface contaminants and pollutants through bi-polar ionization and revolutionary, patent-pending, REME-LED technology. We installed the REME-LED purification lights in the main duct path and the basement duct, reducing airborne and surface microbial, bacteria, viruses, and mold.  The HALO-LED also reduces smoke, odors, VOCs, allergens, dust, and particulates, which allows the students and the staff to continue learning in a safer and healthier school environment.

To make the system run efficiently, we also installed CO2 sensors to control each classroom’s ERV system. These CO2 sensors monitor the amount of carbon dioxide in an enclosed area. Their preset function signals to the ERV to increase airflow and ventilation when the CO2 levels reach an undesired level. The school can select trip points to increase the ventilation rate to deliver more oxygen-rich air from outside and exhaust the higher inside CO2 levels. When the CO2 falls below the preset level, the system will reduce the airflow to the standard ventilation setting. These sensors make this filtration system extremely energy efficient.

It was a pleasure working with the team at The Learning Project. We are happy we were able to create a healthy learning environment for the staff and students. If you are looking to upgrade the HVAC and ventilation systems in your home or business, please call Lavallee Systems to discuss the available options.