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Healthy School Environments

Building Maintenance and Construction

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Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEAT v2)
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HealthySEAT is a customizable software tool that enables school districts to conduct voluntary self-assessments of their schools and other facilities and to track and manage environmental, safety and health issues school by school.

Several studies have found that health, attendance and academic performance improve with increased maintenance of school facilities. Whether you are performing school maintenance, making renovations or planning new construction, the steps you take will affect the quality of the buildings, decades of operational expenses and, most importantly, the health and productivity of generations of students and staff.

These sections address how to improve the performance of school buildings by taking advantage of climatic conditions, enhancing indoor environmental quality, conserving energy and making use of renewable resources, using resource-efficient materials, minimizing construction waste and optimizing maintenance and operations.

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EPA and Federal Partners

  • EPA's Green Building web portal addresses the practice of creating healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance and demolition. The portal provides links to energy, waste, water, materials and indoor environment resources.
  • ENERGY STAR for K-12 School Districts describes EPA's partnership with schools across the country to provide technical support, guidance on financing options and recognition for schools wanting to use energy more efficiently. ENERGY STAR has coordinated with EPA's Indoor Air Quality program to address the overlap between energy efficiency upgrades and indoor environmental quality, and it has launched an energy performance rating tool in schools.
  • Operating and Maintaining EnergySmart Schools: Web-Based Training by the U.S. Department of Energy introduces energy efficiency concepts, presents energy-saving strategies and helps building managers develop and implement a plan for energy efficiency in schools. The training includes a test and opportunity for certification.
  • National Best Practices Manual for Building High Performance Schools (PDF) (457pp, 8.8MB) from the U.S. Department of Energy helps architects, engineers and project managers responsible for designing or retrofitting schools make decisions that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy.

National Organizations

  • LEED for Schools rating system by the U.S. Green Building Council recognizes the unique nature of the design and construction of K-12 schools. Based on the LEED for New Construction rating system, it addresses issues such as classroom acoustics, master planning, mold prevention and environmental site assessment.
  • The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) is an interdisciplinary effort to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. SITES™ is led by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden.
  • Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Policy Resource Center, run by the Environmental Law Institute, presents research, policy briefs and profiles of innovative state practices in building management and design.
  • The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) aims to increase the energy efficiency of public schools by marketing information, service and incentive programs directly to school districts and designers. The Collaborative's goal is to facilitate the design of high performance schools: environments that are not only energy efficient, but also healthy, comfortable and well lit, and contain the amenities needed for a quality education.
  • Council for Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) Exit EPA Disclaimer is a membership organization that fosters, promotes and disseminates best practices in school planning, maintenance and operations.
  • Information for K-12 Schools Exit EPA Disclaimer by CampusERC provides resources and addresses laws and regulations on numerous schools topics.
  • Smart Growth and Schools: Resource List by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities offers an annotated list of links, books and journal articles on schools in relation to issues of planning and community development, economic impact, smart growth vs. sprawl and conservation of open spaces.
  • 2013 State of Our Schools ReportExit EPA Disclaimer (PDF) (16 pp, 487 KB) by the Center for Green Schools describes the scale, condition and quality of K-12 public school facilities and infrastructure and offers recommendations for improvement.

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