Designing and Constructing High Performance Schools for a Healthy School Environment
On this page:
- Why It's Important
- What You Can Do
- EPA and Federal Partners
- National Organizations
- Regional, State and Local Resources
Why It's Important
- High performance schools are energy and resource efficient. Creating them is not difficult, but it requires an integrated, "whole building" approach from the beginning of the design process.
- Even a modest investment in school building performance can yield significant benefits and cost savings, such as:
- Improving health and comfort to enhance student learning
- Increasing average daily attendance
- Reducing utility bills
- Taking advantage of incentive programs
What You Can Do
- Take the recommended actions outlined for the five components of EPA's model K-12 school environmental health program. Many of the priority actions are also criteria for the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools recognition award.
- Increase awareness of the importance of high performance schools among administrators, teachers, maintenance staff, parents and students.
- Ask your school district to consider passing a resolution to commit to high performance school design and construction.
EPA and Federal Partners
- EPA's Model K-12 School Environmental Health Program provides guidance for schools and school districts that are beginning to develop, or are strengthening, a school environmental health program, including the key steps for implementing a program and practical actions that schools can take to address a wide range of environmental issues associated with building design, construction and maintenance.
- ENERGY STAR for K-12 School Districts describes EPA's partnership with schools across the country to provide technical support, guidance on financing options and recognition for schools wanting to use energy more efficiently. ENERGY STAR has coordinated with EPA's Indoor Air Quality program to address the overlap between energy efficiency upgrades and indoor environmental quality, and it has launched an energy performance rating tool in schools.
- National Best Practices Manual for Building High Performance Schools (PDF)(457pp, 8.8M, About PDF) from the U.S. Department of Energy helps architects, engineers and project managers responsible for designing or retrofitting schools make decisions that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy.
- Leading by Example: Two Case Studies Documenting How EPA Incorporated Environmental Features into New Buildings (PDF)(78pp, 1.4M, About PDF) from EPA demonstrates how large building projects can cost-effectively incorporate environmental features while addressing the concerns unique to each site.
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- The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) aims to increase the energy efficiency of public schools by marketing information, service and incentive programs directly to school districts and designers. The Collaborative's goal is to facilitate the design of high performance schools: environments that are not only energy efficient, but also healthy, comfortable and well lit, and contain the amenities needed for a quality education.
- The PowerSave Schools Program helps schools use energy efficiently through building retrofits, changing operational and maintenance routines and changing the behavior of building users.
- The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) is an interdisciplinary effort to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. SITES™ is led by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden.
- Green Schools Profiles on the Green Schools Initiative website enables schools to share their stories of how they are reducing their environmental footprint while generating fun, learning and action for the school community.
Regional, State and Local Resources
- The Sustainable Schools section of California’s Division of the State Architect's website provides a diverse collection of resources to help schools create high performance educational facilities that will ensure the optimal health and productivity of students and faculty.
- Illinois Resource Guide for Healthy, High Performing School Buildings (PDF)(94pp, 1M, About PDF) from the Healthy Schools Campaign links to Web resources on numerous topics related to high performance schools, including energy analysis, water and energy efficiency, cleaning and maintenance and more. The guide also includes a sample school board resolution for healthy, high performing construction.
- The Green Schools section of the Massachusetts School Building Authority's website offers materials to encourage school districts to construct or renovate school buildings that will cost less to operate and will provide healthier learning environments for students.
- The Green Buildings section of the Pennsylvania Governor's Green Government Council provides information on green buildings, including architecture, interior design and planning. Links to other sustainable design resources are also provided.