Green design, with its holistic approach to designing buildings that function within and engage their environment, presents an ideal basis for school design.
With its emphasis on natural lighting, ventilation, and its use of benign materials, green design creates healthier vibrant spaces that are more conducive to learning. Natural lighting creates spaces that are inherently more animated, more alive, than spaces lit artificially. Such spaces better connect to the outdoors, giving a sense of time and place.Natural ventilation provides thermal comfort. Low VOC hypoallergenic materials promote healthier classroom environments. Green design has been demonstrated to promote better student performance.
Green design is also appropriate for school and university design because in addition to creating healthier, more stimulating spaces, it is also about working with nature. The manner in which sustainable school buildings interact with their environments provides very important firsthand educational opportunities. These can range from understanding how buildings relate to, capture and use sunlight and wind for electrical power; to how they use ground source temperature for geothermal heating and cooling; or how native, drought tolerant plantings can help reinforce native ecosystems.
Green design, like education itself, is also an investment in the future. Initial expenditures on Green design provide very real long term savings in energy, human, and maintenance costs. These paybacks can be immediate. And the educational dividends they provide enormous.
Cordogan Clark & Associates is a LEED accredited school and university architectural design firm committed to creating healthier, greener learning environments.