2022 Challenge Runner-Up – California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Team Members:

Nishka Chawla – Undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering

Julia Rios – Undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering

School: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Challenge: Equal Access to Healthy Indoor Air

Problem Definition: Develop  a holistic solution to address indoor air quality (IAQ) inequities in the United States. This topic relates to both the technical aspects of IAQ as well as other areas including IAQ-related policy, epidemiology, environmental justice, community economic impact, commercialization, codes and standards, and appropriate metrics development.

Project Title: IAQ Accessibility Improvers

Solution: The current problem that needs to be addressed is the challenge of poor indoor air quality (IAQ) in communities with lower socioeconomic status. This ​​is a significant public health problem as it furthers the gap between racial/ethnic groups and socioeconomic health disparities, facilitating environmental injustice in the United States. To address this issue, we are focusing our solution to benefit communities with lower socioeconomic status and will address IAQ in homeless shelters. To solve this issue, we have proposed a holistic solution that focuses on funding the purchase of portable HEPA air filters for our stakeholders, who are homeless shelters that contain medical respite programs for the unhoused community. Since funding has been a large barrier to IAQ in these facilities, the expected result of our holistic solution is to eliminate this barrier for our stakeholders. This includes encouraging the purchase of portable HEPA filters due to their effectiveness in improving IAQ and the lack of HVAC infrastructure modifications needed for portable HEPA filters to be used. To put this solution into effect, our proposed market plan consists of partnering with organizations such as the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) to develop policies that will increase funding for homeless shelters so that they may improve IAQ.