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High Performance Schools are an innovative and cost-effective alternative in controlling operation and maintenance expenses. These schools also create a better learning environment for children.
What is a High Performance School?
A high performance school is designed, constructed, renovated, maintained and operated using a "whole-building" approach, which provides a healthy and comfortable indoor environment, conserves energy, water, and resources. High performance schools function as teaching tools, they are adaptable to changing needs, and serve as a community resource. They provide a safe and secure educational environment.
Benefits of a High Performance School
Higher Test Scores
Studies have confirmed a correlation between a school's physical condition such as proper day lighting and improved student performance. A recent study found that students progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% faster on reading tests than students in classrooms with little daylight.
Increased Average Daily Attendance (ADA)
Since a high performance school is a healthy school, it results in fewer sick days for students and teachers. Increased average daily attendance can help to improve the operating budget for schools.
Reduced Operating Costs
A direct result of energy and water efficient school design is reduced operating costs. Saving money on operating costs equates to increasing budgets for other school enrichment needs.
Increased Teacher Satisfaction and Retention
High performance classrooms are designed to be pleasant and effective places to work. Visual and thermal comfort is high, acoustics are good, and the indoor air is fresh and clean. Such environments become positive factors in recruiting and retaining teachers and in improving their overall satisfaction with their work.
Reduced Liability Exposure
Because high performance schools offer healthy indoor environments, they help to reduce a district’s exposure to health-related problems, lawsuits, and loss of credibility. It can be expensive to remediate sick building syndrome or pay for legal costs associated with building-related causes of illness. High performance schools are proactive in preventing these problems and result in reduced liability exposure.
Reduced Environmental Impacts
High performance school buildings are consciously designed to have low environmental impact. They are energy and water efficient. They use durable, non-toxic materials that are high in recycled content, and the buildings themselves can be recycled. They preserve pristine natural areas on their sites and restore damaged ones. And they use non-polluting, renewable energy to the greatest extent possible.
Guidebooks and Publications
CHPS offers a Best Practices Manual including several volumes to assist school district officials and practitioners to achieve high performance design, construction and operation. These volumes include technical information on planning, design, maintenance and operations, commissioning, and relocatable classrooms.
USGBC developed this reference for design, construction, and major modernization of commercial buildings. But, it also applies to K-12 Schools projects.
This guide provides an overview of the features and benefits of high performance schools. It was developed for school district officials to provide assistance with decision making for new construction of K-12 schools. However, it is also useful for community leaders, parents, teachers, architects and engineers, and others promoting high performance school design and construction.
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California Division of the State Architect- Offers guidelines, programs and case studies on sustainable schools.
US Department of Energy: Energy Smart Schools Program- Offers resources for planning, financing, designing and building sustainable schools.
Healthy Schools Network- Offers a school design guide, news, national award information and action alerts.
NCEF– High Performance Green Schools- Offers a large resource list, including videos, of green schools programs.
US EPA – IAQ Design Tools for Schools- Offers information on the benefits of high performance schools and financial incentive resources.
Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)- Offers assessment tools and a best practices manual for schools wishing to go green.
LEED for Schools- Offers specific information on LEED standards and how schools can become LEED certified buildings.
The Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC)- Offers green building awards and a high performance resource and strategy guide.