Road to the CHPS Core Criteria Update - Interview with Rob Samish

Meeting Schools Where They Are: Modernizations, Operations and Metrics in the CHPS Core Criteria Update

Recently we sat down with Rob Samish, Chair of the Operations and Metrics subcommittee and the Modernization workgroup of the CHPS National Technical Committee. Rob has served on the CHPS Board of Directors and Technical Committee for many years, and is a Senior Associate in the Education Studio at Lionakis, an architectural, engineering and planning firm. Rob has maintained a long standing involvement in sustainable architecture over his 28 year career in architecture. He has presented numerous workshops dealing with various aspects of green high performance school design – daylighting, high performance modular classroom criteria, green tools and resources and case studies. He was the project manager for the Alder Creek Middle School, which was one of California’s demonstration schools for CHPS. He a member of the High Performance Planning Committee for the Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH), a California-based K-12 advocacy organization.

CHPS: Why should the high performance schools community care about the CHPS Core Criteria? Rob Samish: The CHPS Core Criteria creates a framework to end up with a high performance green school. As an architect, I appreciate that it is a place that designers and school districts can look to prioritize investments and strategies. I can trust that someone has thought about this, that it is based on evidence that it is going to make a difference. There are so many decisions that need to get made on any given project, and the Criteria funnel the choices into strategies that are going to help the users most.

CHPS: What are the goals of this update for the Modernizations workgroup? RS: Our Workgroup’s approach to this update was to figure out how we could better recognize and celebrate what schools are doing right and to help them build a road map to get to a high performance school. So many districts are looking at incremental improvements. We wanted to address how to get those increments to add up to something, and make sure we’re not losing opportunities to get schools the recognition they deserve when they are making the right choices about smaller improvements.

CHPS: What can the CHPS Community expect as a result of this update with regards the Operations and Metrics category? Operations and Metrics takes on everything that happens at the school post-construction. We are trying to encourage soft landings that make the transition from design and construction to users and operators as smooth as possible. Staff training is a high priority, as is monitoring the performance of the building after students and staff arrive. It really starts with the students and users. Everything we’re doing is looking at their needs and how the school affects their day-to-day experience. The committee picked the first prerequisite to be staff and student training because without user participation, the high performance features will underperform. It’s one of the single largest components of many of features, and we’re trying to address the psychology of that.

CHPS: What has been notable about this process for you? RS: I have been surprised about the variety of challenges that existing schools face in order to become high performance. There are so many constraints when it comes to existing schools - I’m a near a freeway… I’m in a historic building… My building is 100 years old. I’m under the airport flight plan. I can’t do anything about the windows right now. It’s because of all those stories that the idea of the incremental approach to high performance modernizations came about.

CHPS: How does your committees’ work help us serve our mission of making every school an ideal place to learn? RS: Most of the population is in existing schools, so we are really meeting most schools where they are. With declining populations the school construction will go down. Fixing existing schools is really hard. It’s much more difficult, it’s complicated, it’s messy and it’s finally getting the kind of attention it deserves.

Speaking with the chair of the Operations and Metrics Sub-Committee and Modernizations Workgroup of the CHPS Technical Committee~order=2013-06-28
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