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Designing and Constructing High Performance Schools for a Healthy School Environment

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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.

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EPA and Federal Partners

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National Organizations

  • The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) increases 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 by Alliance to Save Energy 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 by Green Schools Initiative enables schools to share their stories of how they are reducing their environmental footprint while generating fun, learning and action for the school community.

State and Local Entities

  • California's Sustainable Schools by the California Division of the State Architect provides resources to help schools create high performance educational facilities that will ensure the optimal health and productivity of students and faculty.
  • Illinois's Resource Guide for Healthy, High Performing School Buildings (PDF)(94pp, 1M, About PDFfrom the Healthy Schools Campaign provides 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.
  • Pennsylvania's Green Buildings by 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.
  • Massachusetts's Green Schools by the Massachusetts School Building Authority 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.

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