School Siting Guidelines Glossary
This page lists terms with special uses related to school siting. For more information, see the discussion on this topic in the Quick Guide to Environmental Issues section.
All Appropriate Inquiries: The process of evaluating a property's environmental conditions and assessing potential liability for any contamination. See All Appropriate Inquiries Standard 40 CFR Part 312. Exit, EPA Fact Sheet: All Appropriate Inquiries Rule: Definition Of Environmental Professional (PDF) (2 pp, 123K), and ASTM E 1527-05 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process Exit.
Capacity: The institutional, organizational, technical and financial ability to address issues. Used in the context of these guidelines as the capacity of education agencies or local governments to have the organization, staff, technical and financial resources to safely operate school facility risk reduction measures such as lead encapsulation and to inspect, maintain and ensure long-term stewardship of any institutional or engineering controls designed to protect people from residual site contamination following a cleanup.
CERCLA: The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, otherwise known as CERCLA or Superfund, provides a federal "Superfund" to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites as well as accidents, spills and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants into the environment. Through CERCLA, EPA was given power to seek out those parties responsible for any release and ensure their cooperation in the cleanup.
Comprehensive environmental review: A stage in the environmental review process that involves gathering and analyzing data on environmental hazards and impacts identified in the initial or preliminary environmental review and evaluating the risks posed to children's health, public health and the environment based on the contamination or impacts found. The comprehensive environmental review also includes developing preliminary plans and cost estimates for mitigation/remediation measures.
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs): Agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. AFOs generally congregate animals, feed, manure, dead animals and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures. Animal waste and wastewater can enter water bodies from spills or breaks of waste storage structures (due to accidents or excessive rain), and nonagricultural application of manure to crop land. An AFO is a lot or facility (other than an aquatic animal production facility) where the following conditions are met:
- Animals have been, are or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of
45 days or more in any 12-month period, and
- Crops, vegetation, forage growth or post-harvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or facility.
AFOs that meet the regulatory definition of a CAFO may be regulated under the NPDES permitting program. For additional information see Regulatory Definitions of Large CAFOs, Medium CAFOs, and Small CAFOs (PDF) (1 p, 7K).
Criteria pollutants: The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for six common air pollutants. These common air pollutants are found all over the United States. They are particle pollution (often referred to as particulate matter), ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and lead. These pollutants can harm human health and the environment, and cause property damage. Of the six pollutants, particle pollution and ground-level ozone are the most widespread health threats. EPA calls these pollutants "criteria" air pollutants because it regulates them by developing human health-based and/or environmentally based criteria (science-based guidelines) for setting permissible levels. The set of limits based on human health is called primary standards. Another set of limits intended to prevent environmental and property damage is called secondary standards.
Engineering Controls: For purposes of this guidance, physical or “engineered” controls are the engineered physical barriers or structures designed to control or limit exposure to the contamination. Engineering controls are distinct from institutional controls. Certain engineered cleanups routinely involve ongoing operation and maintenance (O&M), monitoring, reporting, and evaluation.
Environmental Justice: For the purposes of this guidance, the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.
Environmental Professional: The qualifications of an environmental professional needed to conduct Environmental Site Assessments are defined in ASTM International Standard E1527-05 Exit. Also see EPA Fact Sheet: All Appropriate Inquiries Rule: Definition Of Environmental Professional (PDF) (2 p, 123K).
Environmental review process: A series of steps taken to determine whether a project will be impacted by potential hazards. In the case of school siting, the environmental review evaluates potential environmental hazards and exposures to children, staff and visitors before a decision is made to site a school in a particular location.
Green schools: See Healthy high performance schools
HAPs: Toxic air pollutants, also known as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), are those pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental effects.
Health Impact Assessment: Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is most often defined as "a combination of procedures, methods and tools by which a policy, program or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of a population, and the distribution of those effects within the population" (World Health Organization, 1999). This broad definition from the World Health Organization European Center for Health Policy (ECHP) and presented in the Gothenburg Consensus paper on HIA Exit reflects the many variants of HIA. A somewhat more precise definition is that HIA is "a multidisciplinary process within which a range of evidence about the health effects of a proposal is considered in a structured framework."
Healthy high performance schools: Facilities that integrate all aspects of the design process starting with selection of the design team and the school location to design schools that meet multiple educational, environmental, and community goals. The environmental goals of such facilities include energy and water efficiency, healthy indoor air, safer materials selection and life-cycle cost consideration, landscaping and vegetation, reducing toxics, and choosing more sustainable locations. These technologies and principles are often integrated into the curriculum and other student learning opportunities.
Institutional Controls: Nonengineered instruments, such as administrative and/or legal controls, that help to minimize the potential for human exposure to contamination and/or protect the integrity of a remedy. See: EPA Citizen's Guide to Understanding Institutional Controls (PDF) (9 p, 12K) and All Appropriate Inquiries Standard 40 CFR Part 312 Exit.
Joint use: The use of school district controlled, owned or utilized facilities by a nondistrict entity or the use of nonschool owned property, such as a library or park or athletic facility, by a school. There are five types of entities that constitute joint users:
- Individuals:Persons, generally residents of a community, who have access to exterior spaces, such as play equipment, athletic fields or courts, and open space for personal use.
- Civic Groups: Individuals, groups or organizations, who seek occasional use of school buildings and grounds for activities or events such as polling stations, community meetings and special events.
- Other Public Agencies: A public agency that is not part of the school district that may offer programs, need to lease space and offer no program connection to the school and/or may seek joint development with ongoing joint programming.
- Private Nonprofit Organizations: The use of school buildings and/or grounds by a nonprofit organization such as after-school programs, health clinics or adult education classes.
- Private For-Profit Corporations: The use of school building and/or grounds by a private for-profit corporation, either for education-related work like a private testing service or unrelated work like private offices.
Joint use agreement: A formal agreement between two separate government entities, often a school and a city or county, setting forth the terms and conditions for shared use of public property or facilities. See: National Policy & Legal Analysis Network's Joint Use website Exit.
Local Education Agency (LEA): Any entity, whether public or private, including its staff and its governing or voting body (e.g., a school board or a tribal board) with responsibility for decision-making with respect to school buildings and operations.
Local Community: General term referring to all members of a local area with an interest in school environmental health and safety issues, including but not limited to local governments, local education agencies (see local education agency), nongovernmental organizations and individuals.
Long-range school facilities plan: A way for local education agencies (LEAs) to identify important projections of long-term school and community needs such as student enrollment, operational costs and infrastructure to use in making school siting decisions.
LTSP: Long-term stewardship plan.
Nearby hazard: A potential risk or hazard located outside of the site property boundary. Determining what is nearby depends on many factors and will vary with type of potential hazard. See Exhibit 5: Factors Influencing Exposures and Potential Risks (PDF)(3 pp, 163K) and Exhibit 6: Screening Potential Environmental, Public Health and Safety Hazards (PDF)(12 pp, 284K) for more information.
One call system: Centralized and integrated phone-based system for obtaining information from a single phone call on underground utilities or other hazards prior to digging or excavation (e.g., "Miss Utility").
PCBs:Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) belong to a broad family of human-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. PCBs were domestically manufactured from 1929 until their manufacture was banned in 1979. They have a range of toxicity and vary in consistency from thin, light-colored liquids to yellow or black waxy solids. Due to their nonflammability, chemical stability, high boiling point and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including electrical, heat transfer and hydraulic equipment; as plasticizers in paints, plastics and rubber products; in pigments, dyes and carbonless copy paper; and many other industrial applications.
Petroleum hydrocarbons or total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH): A large family of several hundred chemical compounds that are derived from crude oil. Some chemicals that may be found in TPH are hexane, jet fuels, mineral oils, benzene, toluene, xylenes, naphthalene and fluorene, as well as other petroleum products and gasoline components.
Phytoremediation: Describes the treatment of environmental problems (bioremediation) through the use of plants that mitigate the environmental problem without the need to excavate the contaminant material and dispose of it elsewhere. See EPA Citizen's Guide to Phytoremediation (PDF) (2p, 7K).
Preliminary Environmental Assessment: Initial screening and review stage for candidate sites to identify potential environmental issues related to the suitability of a candidate school site, if any, that should to be assessed in detail if the LEA decides to pursue the site for use as a school location.
Public involvement: See meaningful public involvement.
School Siting Committee (SSC): Committee established to make recommendations to the LEA's governing body on sites for building new schools, leasing space for new schools and/or renovating or expanding existing schools. The committee includes representatives of the LEA's governing body (such as elected school board members, facility, health and safety staff), local government or tribal staff (such as city planners, government environmental health specialist, county auditor) and representatives from stakeholder groups (such as parents of children likely to attend the new school, teachers, public health organizations, community members, environmental advocacy and environmental justice groups, age-appropriate students, local trade/building associations).
Screening Perimeter: Screening distances intended to identify potential land uses near candidate school locations that warrant further consideration rather than to identify land uses that may be incompatible with the location of schools. Screening distances, alone, may not be predictive of the actual potential for a source located within that distance to present an environmental or health hazard. Potential hazards associated with candidate school locations should be evaluated as part of the site screening and evaluation process.
Vapor intrusion: Migration of volatile chemicals from contaminated ground water or soil into an overlying building. For more information, see the discussion on this topic in the Quick Guide to Environmental Issues section.
VOCs: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to 10 times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers and photographic solutions.
Zoning and land uses: Zoning codes are developed to regulate the location and type of development in a given area. Zoning can determine the land use of a particular location, such as residential, commercial or industrial.