Minnesota EcoMoms-Chapter of the EcoMom Alliance

High Performance Green School

A high performance green school has three distinct attributes: it is less costly to operate than a conventional school; it is designed to enhance the learning and working environment; and it conserves important resources such as energy and water.
A high performance green school is designed to optimize the durability of the facility and to utilize high efficiency, “right sized” heating, ventilating, and air conditioning equipment and lighting systems. Where possible, glare-free daylight is brought into the school to enhance the learning environment. The building shell integrates the most effective combination of insulation, glazing, and thermal mass to ensure energy efficiency, and plumbing fixtures are specified to reduce water consumption. Together, these measures significantly reduce the operational costs of running the school building. It is reasonable to assume a 20%-40% cost savings in utility bills versus a non-green building of the same size and shape.
A high performance green school is thermally, visually, and acoustically comfortable. Thermal comfort means that teachers, students and administrators should neither be hot nor cold as they teach and learn. Visual comfort means that the quality of lighting makes visual tasks, such as reading and following classroom presentations, easier. Acoustic comfort is achieved when students and teachers can hear each other and are not impeded by loud ventilation systems or noise from adjoining spaces.
High quality indoor air is another important feature of a green school. Air intakes are located away from potential sources of contamination and ventilation systems are designed to optimize fresh air. Architects and engineers incorporate best design practices to prevent water intrusion into wall and roof assemblies. This, in turn, prevents the accumulation of moisture in materials that could support mold growth or lead to premature replacement of indoor finishes and even structural elements.
A high performance green school has an environmentally responsive site. To the extent possible, the school’s site conserves existing natural areas and incorporates them into the curriculum. Stormwater runoff is minimized and/or captured on site for irrigation or flushing water closets. The site is accessible to bicycle and pedestrian traffic and is conveniently located for community activities.


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