Integrated School Building Technologies for High Performance Schools

High performance schools are facilities that improve the learning environment while saving energy, resources, and money. These schools use a whole building, integrated design strategy that incorporates the best of today's ideas and technologies. From the beginning of the design process, each of the building elements (windows, walls, building materials, air-conditioning, landscaping, etc.) is considered part of an integrated system of interacting components. Choices in one area often affect other building systems; integrated design leverages these interactions to maximize the overall building performance. High performance schools are not only energy efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit, and contain the amenities needed for a quality education.

Project Description

Integrated School Building Technologies for High Performance Schools �The California Energy Commission demonstrated high performance design concepts that provide good lighting, meet improved acoustical standards, use advanced HVAC technologies, monitor and control indoor air quality and reduce energy use through design support in two public K-12 schools. The two demonstration schools -- Alder Creek Middle School in Truckee, California and the Cesar Chavez Education Complex in Oakland, California were built using guidelines developed by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), a non-profit organization made up of utility and government representatives, architects and school facility managers. Together they provide design information, services, training and incentives for creating energy efficient schools. The two demonstration schools located in different climate zones, incorporate a high level of daylighting; meet ASHRAE NC 30 acoustical standards; use advanced HVAC and duct technologies and controls for monitoring and control of indoor air quality (IAQ). The schools exceed California building standards by up to 30% while lowering life cycle costs.

Lessons Learned

  • The building commissioning process is extremely important to saving both time and money. It reduced the number of call backs for the construction contractors and guaranteed that the design was carried through from start to finish.
  • Thorough research and specification of low emitting Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and high recycled content is important in a public bid process.
  • With proper planning, schools using CHPS design guidelines can be designed and constructed for the same cost as a typical public school.
  • More information and education on use of alternative materials is needed to insure understanding of these products by school districts and architects.
  • Using a contractor familiar and receptive to CHPS Criteria as well as insuring clear communication channels for all involved parties through regular meetings/teleconferences is essential.

Protect Student and Teacher Health

Schools designed with attention to proper ventilation, material selection, acoustical quality and other indoor environmental factors, can expect improved student and teacher health and higher attendance; Better Student Performance � Attention to site planning and adequate daylighting has been shown to heighten student performance by as much as 25%; Lower Operating Costs � Operating costs for energy and water can be reduced by 20% to 40%, allowing more money to be used for teacher salaries, textbooks and computers; Provide a Unique Educational Opportunity � When advanced technology and design in new schools are made visible, buildings can become teaching tools and important features of science, math, and environmental curriculum.