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School Siting Guidelines

EPA's voluntary school siting guidelines can help local school districts, local education agencies (LEAs), and community members evaluate environmental factors to make the best possible school siting decisions.

Read an overview of the guidelines, or find 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. 

EPA developed the Smart School Siting Tool under its Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program to help school agencies and other local government agencies work together to better align school siting and other community development decisions. The tool includes:

  • A User Guide (PDF) (33 pp, 826 K, About PDF) that provides background on the links between school siting and community impacts, presents an overview of the tool, and describes how to use the Excel-based workbooks.
  • The Assessment & Planning Workbook (Excel) (9 pp, 2 MB), which helps a community understand how well its school siting process is coordinated with land use and other community planning processes.
  • The Site Comparison Workbook (Excel) (13 pp, 866 K), which helps a community evaluate and compare candidate sites for a proposed school, which could be a new or renovated school.