Healthy and efficient schools are a U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency priority and the agency has a number
of excellent programs and resources. Below is a link to
a list of EPA websites where you can accesses
information on these valuable resources.
School Technical Assistance Program
The goal of making the learning environment for our nation's children one
that supports education, rather than one that detracts from it through
uncomfortable and unhealthy classroom environments and needlessly high
energy costs, is successfully addressed by the different facets of the
ASERTTI Energy and Environment in Schools Technical Assistance Program
supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ASERTTI Members.
This initiative builds on the results of four state-based technology
transfer and demonstration projects conducted over the past several years,
and aims to highlight the need for energy and environmental improvements in
Why is Saving Energy and Improving the Learning Environment Important?
nation’s schools have a collective energy bill of more than $6 billion each
year. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that at least 25 percent of
that amount, or approximately $1.5 billion, could be saved each year through
better building design, widely available energy efficient and renewable
energy technologies, and improvements to operations and maintenance.
Technologies and improvements such as the use of daylighting, improved
indoor air quality, improved environment of portable classrooms, and energy
efficient integrated building technologies used in high performance schools
offer great potential for significant energy savings that would translate to
financial savings for state and county governments across the nation.
is the choice, science, or practice of using daylight as the primary daytime
illuminant in a room or building. Cool Daylighting is the successful
application of daylighting to the contemporary challenges of buildings that
are internally load-dominated buildings—that is, they easily become
overheated during the winter because they are so tightly sealed. The goal is
to use daylighting to reduce the need for electric lighting and space
cooling (important for school facilities that are used year-round as is
happening in many communities.) Beyond energy savings and reduced
construction costs, daylighting offers many benefits for the people who use
the buildings. For example, research has found that student performance
improves when daylight is available in the classroom.
Integrated Building Design
High performance energy efficient schools use a whole building,
integrated design strategy that incorporates the best of today's ideas and
technologies. From the beginning of the design process, each of the building
elements (windows, walls, building materials, air-conditioning, landscaping,
etc.) is considered part of an integrated system of interacting components.
Choices in one area often affect other building systems; integrated design
leverages these interactions to maximize the overall building performance.
High performance schools are not only energy efficient, but also healthy,
comfortable, well lit, and contain the amenities needed for a quality
Indoor Air Quality
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies of human exposure to air
pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five
times -- and occasionally more than 100 times -- higher than outdoor levels.
These levels of indoor air pollutants are of great concern in school
buildings where our children, their teachers and administrators spend about
90 percent of their time indoors. Good indoor air quality (IAQ) management
includes: Control of airborne pollutants; Introduction and distribution of
adequate outdoor air; and Maintenance of acceptable temperature and relative
humidity. Outdoor sources should also be considered since outdoor air enters
school buildings through windows, doors, and ventilation systems. Thus,
transportation and grounds maintenance activities become factors that affect
indoor pollutant levels as well as outdoor air quality on school grounds.
classrooms have become a common and acceptable low-cost solution for school
districts dealing with shrinking school budgets and expanding enrollments.
In many instances, this short-term fix often becomes a permanent classroom.
As an example, nearly one third of all portable classrooms in Oregon are
more than 20 years old. While initial costs of portable classrooms are low,
their on-going operating costs are high. Portable classrooms usually have
minimal insulation. Other major problems with portables include poor indoor
air quality, inadequate natural light, and an unstable room temperature.
Most portable classrooms are built with materials and finishes that emit
high volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These noxious fumes are even more of
a concern because of the poor ventilation in most portables.