A high performance school facility is energy and resource efficient, and cost effective. The term "High Performance School" refers to the physical facility, not the curriculum, teachers, administration or non-physical infrastructure. The following are some of the features that define a high performance school.
· A high performance school provides a healthy environment. Indoor air quality is essential. This is achieved by using building materials that do not pollute. For example, carefully selected carpets, paints, furniture, and other finishes. Treads at building entrances reduce dirt and dust that is tracked in. Natural ventilation or mechanical ventilation introduces fresh air into all spaces, especially classrooms.
· A high performance school is comfortable. Comfort includes thermal comfort, visual comfort and acoustic comfort. Thermal comfort means that teachers, students and administrators should neither be hot or cold as they teach and learn. Visual comfort means that quality lighting should enable visual tasks such as reading and following classroom presentations to be easily performed. Visual comfort also means providing a connection to the out-of-doors and visual stimulation through the use of windows located at eye level. Acoustic comfort means providing acoustic isolation of music rooms, gyms and other noisy activities and adequate sound attenuation from street or other outdoor noise.
· A high performance school has as much natural daylight as possible.
Daylighting is the controlled admission of natural light into a space through windows, skylights, or roof monitors. A high performance school should use as much natural light as possible (especially in classrooms) while avoiding excessive heat loss, heat gain, and glare. Natural light is the highest quality light source for visual tasks, as it enhances the color and appearance of objects. Studies indicate that daylighting can enhance student performances. To view a report on daylighting in schools and the relationship of daylighting and student performance, link to Daylighting Report (pdf).
· A high performance school is energy efficient. An energy-efficient school costs less to operate, leaving more money for books, computers and salaries. Energy-efficient schools also conserve non-renewable energy resources and reduce atmospheric emissions.
· A high performance school is resource efficient. This means that energy use is minimized in the production of materials and products as well as their delivery and installation. It also means that resources for product and material production are taken from the earth in a sensitive manner. For example, wood products are from certified forests.
· A high performance school is water efficient. High performance schools use water efficiently or only when needed. They also can use separate plumbing systems for irrigation or other use. Water efficiency can reduce the depletion of aquifers and increase river flows.
· A high performance school is a community resource. The most successful schools have a high level of parent and community involvement. This involvement can be enhanced if schools are designed to be used for neighborhood meetings and other community functions.
· A high performance school is stimulating architecture. High performance schools should invoke a sense of pride and be considered a genuine asset for the community.
· A high performance school is easy to maintain and operate. Building systems should be simple and as easy to use. Teachers should have control over the temperature and lighting in their classrooms
· A high performance school is adaptable to changing needs. High performance schools need to be able to embrace new technologies and respond to demographic and social changes.
Case Studies of
high performance schools:
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Corvallis High School (pdf) This article was reprinted, with permission, from the November 2005 issue of the DJC Commerce magazine.
PSU's Epler Hall (pdf)
This article was reprinted, with permission, from the November 2005 issue of the DJC Commerce magazine.
Schools in Oregon can order the SBIC's (Sustainable Buildings Industry Council) High Performance School Buildings Resource and Strategy Guide directly from SBIC here.