Green Schools: Elements of Green School
A green school, also known as a high performance school, is a community facility that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner. Green schools protect occupant health, provide a productive learning environment, connect students to the natural world, increase average daily attendance, reduce operating costs, improve teacher satisfaction and retention, and reduce overall impact to the environment. Elements of a green school:
Good windows are well-sealed and lower the cost of heating and cooling.
Energy Star-rated equipment and appliances are used to reduce electricity consumption.
Low- or no-VOC paints are used. Insulation to interior walls helps to reduce distracting noise.
To cut down on distracting noise, drop ceilings have acoustic ceiling tiles and major fans are placed over hallways instead of classrooms. Additionally, vibration isolators are installed on rooftop equipment.
Crawl Spaces, Attic
Insulation in the accessible duct work in the crawl spaces and attic with weather-stripping around gaps helps prevent heating and cooling losses, thus raising the energy-efficiency of the heating and cooling systems.
Carpeted areas are replaced with hard surfaces, which are easier to rid of dust and other triggers for allergies and asthma.
Cleaning supplies are non-toxic and third-party green certified, reducing exposure to allergens and other harmful chemicals that pollute the breathing air and atmosphere.
High-efficiency lighting is used and sensors turn lights off automatically. Lower-wattage flourescent lamps are used; T8 fluorescent dimming lamps controlled by occupancy and photocell sensors reduce the length of time lights are left on when classrooms are unoccupied. Additionally, natural daylighting is a central component that provides biological stimulation for hormones that regulate body systems and moods; it also offers opportunities for natural ventilation, and reduces the need for artificial light, thereby reducing energy costs.
Heating and Cooling Systems
Vents are free from obstructions, air flows freely, and the best possible air filters are used and changed regularly. Programmable thermostats are preset at different temperatures for certain times of the day and to account for occupancy levels. An Energy Star Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system helps to increase energy performance. Window overhangs and curved, translucent, interior lightshelves in South-facing deep spaces help reduce solar heat gain, cooling loads, glare, and improve comfort within the classrooms.
Low-flow aerators are installed on bathroom faucets, along with automatic faucet shut-off controls. Toilets and urinals are low-flow. Locker rooms have low-flow shower heads. Plumbing fixtures are regularly inspected for leaks.
Low-flow aerators are installed on sinks and plumbing fixtures are checked regularly for leaks. High-efficiency dishwashers are used in school cafeterias. Snacks and meals have minimal packaging and many do not require utensils or tableware.
A school-wide recycling system includes areas for recyclables to be separated, collected, and stored.
A compost bin in the schoolyard or trash area contains scraps from the cafeteria and is managed by teachers, students and a local farm or community garden.
Native plants and other drought-tolerant landscaping elements limit water use. When irrigation is needed, high-efficiency irrigation systems are used with reclaimed water or captured rainwater. The outdoor area is covered with semi-permeable surfaces that allow stormwater to filter through the ground naturally instead of running off the site into the sewer system.
A green roof captures water and cools down buildings from densely packed plants on classroom roofs. Solar panels provide power and offset electricity costs.
A bioswale garden diverts rain water from the rooftop into the garden. It can include a cistern, a stream, pools of water, and native plants. It attracts native wildlife and is a learning resource for the students, who can examine plant life that grows in treatment tanks throughout the facility and visualize a complex form of environmental sustainability.
A pond is filled with run-off water channeled through a cascade system that directs rainwater from the roof into the pond. The pond can serve as an outdoor classroom for biology students to study plants, animals, and microorganisms.
Solar Shade Canopy
A photovoltaic array -- arrangement of solar panels -- can serve as a shade canopy for an outdoor classroom and also provide an alternative energy source for harvesting electricity generated by the sun.
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