High performance schools are wave of the future, says NJIT architect

March 09, 2007

High performance schools integrate the best in today's design strategies and building technologies. Even better, they make a difference in the way children learn. Research has shown that better buildings produce better student performance, reduce operating costs and increase average daily attendance. They also are more likely to maintain teacher satisfaction and retention and reduce liability exposure.

Deane Evans, FAIA, executive director of the Center for Architecture and Building Science Research at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), numbers among the nation's top boosters for high-performance schools. Evans, who is secretary chair of the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, Washington, DC, touted high performance schools earlier this year as a panelist at the Rhode Island Schools Energy Summit in Warwick, RI and the Schools of the 21st Century Symposium in New Orleans..

A high performance school building provides acoustic, thermal and visual comfort for students and teachers, said Evans. It efficiently uses heating, cooling, and lighting systems and is fueled by renewable sources, when possible. Windows and skylights admit generous amounts of daylight, and buildings are safe and secure. Site planning is environmentally responsive, controlling glare from parking lot lights and storm water runoff. Plumbing systems make efficient use of water.

Such schools are cost-effective to own and operate. Systems and materials are chosen using life-cycle cost analysis, rather than the cheapest first-cost. During design, energy analysis tools optimize the building's performance, and after construction equipment is fine-tuned to operate correctly. Community members use the building during non-school hours; they also participate in the design process.

Such schools facilitate learning and if a school is not high performance, learning may be impacted. A recent study www.edfacilities.org/pubs/outcomes.pdf commissioned by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities noted that spatial configurations, noise, heat, cold, light, and air quality obviously bear on students' and teachers' abilities to perform.
To learn more about high performance schools, Evans suggests bookmarking his own frequently-updated website at http://www.highperformanceschools.org/ plus the following: Sustainable Buildings Industry Council www.sbicouncil.org; Collaborative for High Performance Schools www.chps.net; U.S. Green Building Council www.usgbc.org; U.S. Department of Energy www.energysmartschools.gov; U.S. Department of Environmental Protection: www.epa.gov/schools/.

NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, at the edge in knowledge, enrolls more than 8,000 students in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 92 degree programs offered by six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. NJIT is renowned for expertise in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning. In 2006, Princeton Review named NJIT among the nation's top 25 campuses for technology and top 150 for best value. U.S. News & World Report's 2007 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities.

New Jersey Institute of Technology

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