A report released today by the Institute for the Built Environment details a research study conducted on a national sample of 12 green schools and illustrates the positive impacts of green school design. The schools participating in the study were designed with sustainability in mind, but had not been evaluated for the design effectiveness or the long-term impact on operations. Cost and utility data were collected for each sample school and compared to national and regional benchmarks. In addition, teachers and maintenance staff at each school were questioned to identify common perceptions and observations. Key results included:
- Responses to the occupant survey indicate that green school facilities have a positive impact on occupants. Respondents were enthusiastic about their green school with the majority perceiving positive effects on student health, achievement, and behavior.
- Cost analysis rebuts the common perception that higher design and construction costs must be incurred to build green schools. The majority of green schools in the sample were built below the regional median cost for schools built in the same year.
- In energy performance, the sample operated above the ENERGY STAR national median, with a sample mean score of 81. A rating of 81 indicates that a building is operating in the top 19th percentile, or better than 81% of similar buildings nationwide. In addition, eight of the schools met or exceeded the Architecture 2030 Challenge 2012 targets for Energy Use Intensity (EUI).
- Finally, through interviews with facility managers, we confirmed that the buildings’ efficiency is also illustrated through perceived efficiencies in the daily operation and maintenance of the facilities.
In February of this year, Stephanie Barr and colleague Craig Schiller presented at the CEFPI (Council of Educational Facilities Planners International) Sustainable Schools Symposium in Tempe Arizona. The presentation centered on research on whole-school sustainability and utilizing the building as a teaching tool. Embedded below is their online presentation. Following this presentation, they were invited to submit an article to the CEFPI Educational Facilities Planner. CEFPI’s flagship publication reaches a diverse population including school and college administrators, school board members, school and college faculty members, facility maintenance and operating personnel, architects, engineers, builders and contractors. Published three times annually, the Planner is read by key decision-makers in the school building business worldwide. The publication follows a simple, straightforward editorial style and offers practical knowledge through case studies, interviews and feature articles.
Written by Stephanie Barr, Brian Dunbar and Craig Schiller, the article, “Sustainability in Schools: Why Green Building Has Become a Catalyst” explores how green school buildings can go beyond an energy efficient, healthy building shell to a dynamic sustainability teaching tool.
With the increase in both green school construction and research linking green schools to healthier students and higher performance and financial return on investment, it is no surprise that green school design practices are quickly becoming standard practice. This is reason for celebration, yet there are still many mountains to climb to achieve holistic sustainability in schools. There is a measure of success that we haven’t fully explored – are green schools actually producing sustainably-driven students? Yes, we want high performing and healthy students, but we also want students to lead a sustainable future, right?
The full article can be viewed online here: http://viewer.epaperflip.com/Viewer.aspx?docid=5b567c47-df15-46a7-8877-a0600118067d#?page=18
Barr, S. & Schiller, C. (2012). Building as a Teaching Tool: Connecting Curriculum, Culture, and The Physical Environment. CEFPI Sustainable Schools Symposium, February 2012. Tempe, AZ