Little green schoolhouse

"Building design, materials, operation, maintenance, and cleaning practices can affect occupants' health and development," so The National Academies Press (NAP) introduces its study on the health and productivity benefits of green schools.
...students in buildings that rated as poor had test scores that were, on average, 5 percent lower than students in school buildings categorized as fair and 10 percent lower than students in buildings categorized as excellent.
Buildings account for 40 percent of U.S. energy use and 40 percent of atmospheric emissions, greenhouse gases, and other pollutants. The report undertakes the complex task of comparing studies which analyze overall building condition with student achievement and examine the total building health environment (dampness, mold, lighting, fresh air, etc) affecting not only students' performance but that of the professional stakeholder group, i.e., teachers, administrators (principals, financial staff, counselors, librarians) and support staff . The quality of building support staff "may significantly affect the performance of building systems, the timeliness and quality of maintenance repair, and cleaning practices." As buildings deteriorate, performance suffers and development is affected.

Of course, the issue is more than buildings.
Given the complexity of the interaction between people and their environments, establishing cause-and-effect relationships between an attribute of a green school or other building and its effect on people is very difficult.
Though the many societal factors influencing student and teacher health, productivity and learning are complex, the study concludes it may be possible to further determine whether and how a green school may be of benefit:
Future green school guidelines should place greater emphasis, on building systems...identify potential interactions between building systems, occupants, and operation and maintenance practices and identify conflicts that will necessitate tradeoffs among building features to meet differing objectives

Green Schools: Attributes for Health and Learning
(an Open Book from NAP, 2006, 208 pp)

Executive Summary
(pdf, 25pp/220kB)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are in the process of similar research. We are just starting to anyalze our data but already we see that there is a correlation between a building and its occupants. There is also some interesting correlations with the age of a building. Hopefully we can properly qualify this so it provides usful information for builders and occupants alike.

Tim Key
Modular Today


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