Q: How will high performance schools help me educate students?
High Performance design is a health and comfort issue. Daylighting has been shown to increase student learning. High indoor air quality is essential for teacher and student health. Good design produces more comfortable environments with proper illumination, air temperature, humidity, and noise reduction. This reduces distractions and creates environments where students can see clearly, hear accurately, and be thermally comfortable.
Q: Is it cost effective?
Yes. It is not a coincidence that measures that increase student health and productivity also save energy and money. Creating healthy, comfortable environments demands understanding how building elements affect one another. Integrated design focuses on these interactions, and creates environments that are energy and resource efficient. These increased efficiencies save money on utility bills, and are so valuable that organizations will give you money to have them included in the design.
Q: Do I have to choose between housing more students and high performance?
No. In the end, a school facility must be able to house all of the students. Reducing the number of classrooms to add high performance elements to other spaces is not an option. The key is identifying goals and budgets in advance and verifying that the designers and contractors explicitly understand your needs and their responsibilities. School construction budgets are tight, but cost-effective solutions can be found for nearly any budget.
Q: Will I have the time to do this?
Yes. School design and construction timelines are short, and better design does not happen instantaneously. As a district, you must identify your goals early and communicate them clearly with the design team. They can then be integrated into the design from an early stage, and not require time and money intensive changes later in the process.
Q: Do I need to be an expert in high performance building design?
No. It is the architect and engineer's role to maximize the effectiveness of the design. You must, however, identify and prioritize your goals. Without the luxuries of open timelines and budgets, every school design becomes a balanced system of tradeoffs. Understanding the value of high performance design will be important as choices arise.
To make high performance design a reality, school districts need to focus on five key elements:
1. Set Goals. Develop your high performance goals early. The CHPS Criteria detailed in Vol. III is a flexible way to set your goals. It is a point system covering the essential elements of high performance design that districts can use to clearly identify their priorities. Incorporating high performance goals into your Educational Specifications is an excellent way to clearly specify what you want and how it correlates with your educational and architectural programs.
2. Communicate Goals to Designers. Include these goals into the educational specifications and designer Request for Proposals to communicate early your design intentions.
3. Pursue Integrated Design. Insist on the development of an integrated design team to take full benefit of design options that affect all of the other building performance.
4. Monitor Construction. Communicate goals to contractor, and be wary of substitutions or changes to the design during construction without consulting the designer.
5. Verify Goals. Commission the building to prove that you are getting what you paid for, and that the building has been built as designed, and designed to your specifications.
Q: Should I use the CHPS Criteria or LEED for Schools?
To begin, CHPS must first acknowledge that so long as an ever increasing number of schools being built and modernized are healthy, high performance, green, sustainable learning environments for children, then both the CHPS and USGBC programs (the administrating body for the LEED for Schools program) are successful. However, CHPS recognizes that although both rating systems have similar intents, the CHPS Criteria and LEED are structurally, philosophically, and programmatically different, and that school districts, faced with both financial and time constraints, must make a choice between the two programs. When making this choice, school districts must consider ease of certification, recognition, cost, experience, flexibility, transparency, scope, and climate sensitivity, to name a few.
Q: Have you completed the criteria for green rehabilitation of school buildings instead of the criteria for new buildings?
The newest editions of CA-CHPS, TX-CHPS, CO-CHPS, NY-CHPS, HI-CHPS and MA-CHPS includes a "major modernization" and new building scorecard.