HIGH PERFORMANCE SCHOOLS
“Green” or High Performance schools are designed and built, and then operated and maintained to be healthy, productive, energy-efficient and cost-effective learning environments. Green school buildings incorporate current technology to protect the health and comfort of children and school employees while saving energy, natural resources and money. They promote good indoor air quality as well as visual, thermal and acoustic comfort. Energy, water and material efficiency, sustainability, cost effectiveness and safety and security issues are all addressed from the beginning of the design process.
The current national models for building healthy, high performance Schools are LEED for Schools, the US EPA’s IAQ Design Tools for Schools, the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) protocols for New York, the Northeast, Massachusetts and California, the New Hampshire Partnership for HighPerformanceSchools and Washington Sustainable Schools. These national models address issues that are unique to K-12 school buildings such as: school-aged populations, school occupancy schedules, community use of the building, student transportation issues, landscaping needs for playing fields and playgrounds, stricter policies for low-emitting materials to protect children’s health, acoustics criteria to foster a better learning environment and the need for an IAQ management plan during occupancy to protect student health as well as ensure the longevity of building systems.
Effective operation and maintenance procedures are essential to protect the investment in and the performance of a high performance school building. All national models include the existence of a preventive maintenance plan in their descriptions of necessary components of a high performance school.NH Partnership for High Performance Schools states that superior indoor air quality in a high performance school can only be achieved and maintained by properly siting buildings, limiting the use of toxins and biological agents (during construction, operation and maintenance over the life of the building), controlling sources of contamination and providing adequate ventilation. NE CHPS says: “The key to an energy efficient high performance school is both the design process AND what happens after the building is occupied!” NE requires schools to implement the EPA’s Tools for Schools Program. NE and NY CHPS both require a school maintenance plan that includes an inventory of all equipment in the new or renovated school and its preventive maintenance needs.
Summary of CT LAW Dealing with High Performance Schools:
(CT General Statutes Section Nos. 10-285a, 16a-38k and 29-256a)
- Applies to both state-owned buildings, including state schools, and public school facilities that satisfy the following criteria:
- New construction of a state facility, including a state school, that is projected to cost $5 million or more, and is approved and funded on or after January 1, 2008;
- State facility renovation, including that of a state school, that is projected to cost $2 million or more, and is approved and funded on or after January 1, 2008;
- New construction of a public school facility that is projected to cost $5 million or more, and of which $2 million or more is state funded and authorized by the CT General Assembly pursuant to Chapter 173 on or after January 1, 2009;
- Renovation of a public school facility costing $2 million or more of which $2 million or more is state funded and authorized by the CT General Assembly pursuant to Chapter 173 on or after January 1, 2009.
- Requires schools to be built to meet specified energy and environmental standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Standard or its equivalent)
- Requires schools to exceed the current building code energy efficiency standards by at least 20%
- Allows for a waiver of these requirements if the cost of compliance outweighs the benefits
- Requires the state building inspector and the Codes and Standards Committee to amend the State Building Code to require (1) buildings costing $5 million or more built after January 1, 2009 and (2) renovations costing $2 million or more starting January 1, 2010 to meet the LEED Silver Standard or its equivalent
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Question: Has a new school building project in your district incorporated any “green” or high performance elements?
Answer: Our newest school will have solar panels on the roof. It also uses a lot of natural delighting techniques in its design.
EPA IAQ Design Tools for Schools website:
EPA website section on GreenBuilding:
Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) : A set of building and design standards for the construction or renovation of energy efficient, environmentally friendly, healthy school facilities from pre-K through community colleges.
CT Green Building Council website section on High Performance Schools:
Greening America’s Schools - Costs and Benefits:
Healthy Schools Network, Inc. School Design: Healthy & High Performance Schools
Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) website:
US Green Building Council website:
US Green Building Council (USGBC) website on Building Green Schools:
USGBC LEED for Schools website: