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Healthy School Environments

School Siting Guidelines

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EPA's voluntary school siting guidelines can help local school districts (local education agencies or LEAs) and community members evaluate environmental factors to make the best possible school siting decisions. This website includes an overview for the guidelines, as well as links to resources and additional information.

When should the guidelines be used?
The guidelines should be used prior to:

  • Deciding whether to renovate the existing school, or build a new school on the current site or on a new site;
  • Acquiring land for school facilities;
  • Using legacy property already owned by the LEA;
  • Leasing space; and/or
  • Renovating or reusing existing properties and structures already owned by the LEA.

IMPORTANT: The school siting guidelines are NOT designed for retroactive application to previous school siting decisions. They are designed to inform and improve the school siting decision-making process from this point forward.

Principles Behind the Guidelines

In developing the guidelines, EPA focused on four underlying principles for addressing environmental factors in school siting decisions:

  1. Safe and healthy school environments are integral components of the education process;
  2. The environmental review process should be rigorous, thorough, well documented and include substantive and ongoing, meaningful public involvement;
  3. Schools should be located in environments that contribute to the livability, sustainability and public health of neighborhoods and communities; and
  4. The school siting process should consider the environmental health and safety of the entire community, including disadvantaged and underserved populations.

The principles are described in the About the Guidelines section (PDF) (12 pp, 293K, About PDF)

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