As a parent, relative, teacher, faculty member, etc., there is one thing you all probably have in common. That is, the desire for your children or the children that you teach to perform well.
Student achievement is often purely looked at from the perspective of the strength of the curriculum or the quality of the teachers. While these things are all vital to the success of their achievement, there is another factor that has been overlooked in the past, but has been given more attention in recent years.
The sustainability of the actual school building.
Over the last few years, there have been a number of studies showing a direct correlation between school facility conditions and student performance. They all conclude that, a greener learning environment does impact a student’s ability to perform well. While having a healthy learning environment may seem intuitive, many of us might not understand just how exactly a greener environment impacts a student’s performance.
Just What Is A Green School?
A Green or High Performing School can be characterized by many things. They help conserve resources through energy efficiency, lowering utility costs, and reducing waste. In addition, they provide things like clean air, natural light, an environment free of toxic materials and chemicals, and much more.
Read more about characteristics of a green school here:
How Green Schools Help Academic Performance:
The Center for Green Schools has rounded up 4 ways in which green schools contribute to learning.
- Indoor air quality: According to the Department of Education, more than 20% of public schools in the U.S. have unsatisfactory indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality can trigger symptoms like headaches, fatigue, coughing, sneezing, asthma attacks, and much more. It can also expose students to toxic substances that may be in the air, especially in older buildings. This may inhibit a student from focusing and has the potential to get them sick. Therefore, controlling exposure to dust and pollen, improves the health of students while also reducing sick days.
- Acoustics: Greener schools feature HVAC systems with appropriately placed vents, lined ductwork, and much more. These things all affect a buildings acoustics. There is a clear connection between proper acoustic design in schools and performance from students. In fact, there have been a large amount of studies that confirm just how important it is to have little background noise, especially in an educational environment (Berg et al., 1996; Crandall & Smaldino, 1995; Knecht et al., 2002).
- Thermal comfort: Stuffy warm classrooms can make students restless, less interested, and less alert (Wargocki & Wyon, 2007). Greener schools have more windows and open ventilations. This provides a proper supply of air for students while also providing a comfortable indoor temperature. Therefore, an improved thermal comfort is vital to the productivity and performance of students.
- Daylighting: Giving access to daylight and outdoor views to buildings has been shown to heighten student participation, lessen distraction and encourage learning. Studies have shown that when deprived of natural light, children’s melatonin cycles are disrupted, thus likely having an impact on their alertness during school.
ATI’s Focus on Greener Schools:
ATI strives for sustainable and energy efficient design in its efforts to minimize the impact of the built environment on natural resources, acknowledging the increasing need to become more sensitive to preserving our natural resources and the environment. Our on-going involvement with governmental funded projects has mandated the incorporation of green building design.
Beginning with its own staff, ATI has been a proponent of Green Building Design. ATI sponsors staff to obtain LEED Certification and Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Training.
Re-use Design/Emily™ :
Over the years, ATI listened carefully to our clients and as a result, embarked on a long term initiative to provide a high value classroom package solution. Unlike modulars and portables, ATI has created classroom design packages and processed them for approval by DSA as PC’s. These designs have been branded Emily™. The Emily™ product line now boasts various single-story and two-story classroom designs including standard single wing, various sized back-to-back classroom wings, and two-story classrooms containing a combination of up to 10 standard 960 sf or a combination of 960/1,350 sf classrooms. Our designs allow for integrated bathroom and storage facilities and they have been configured for administrative spaces, libraries, technology centers and a host of other program uses. Emily™ buildings utilize both passive and active energy conservation technologies as well as the most current thinking in sustainable design. If you are interested in learning more about Emily, go to http://www.emilyreusedesign.com/
Here are just some of ATI’s CHPS Certified School Projects:
Pittsburg USD, Martin Luther King, Jr., Junior High School: CHPS Verified 26 Points
New Haven USD, Conley-Caraballo High School: CHPS Verified 42 Points
Roseville JUHSD, Adelante High School: CHPS Designed 26 Points
San Bernardino City USD, Little Mountain Elementary School: CHPS Funded/CHPS Designed 30 Points
San Bernardino City USD, Middle College High School: CHPS Funded/CHPS Designed 30 Points
Windsor USD, Windsor High School CTE Bldg: CHPS Funded/CHPS Designed 38 Points
Black Oak Mine USD, Golden Sierra High School: CHPS Designed 26 Points
Piedmont USD, Havens Elementary School: CHPS Designed 20 Points
There are many positive outcomes to a greener, more sustainable learning environment. At ATI, we have made sustainability a priority by creating designs that meet the needs of this generation without compromising the needs of generations to come.