- Selecting the Right Site
When considering the location for a school site, it is critical not only to consider your initial cost but also to evaluate environmental implications, necessary health and safety precautions, and how well the school design is integrated into the fabric of the community. New schools should be sited to reuse developed sites rather than disrupting green spaces. Brownfield redevelopment helps to improve existing communities, renew neighborhoods and giving new life to underused sites. These sites often have existing infrastructure links to transportation, utilities, and other important services.
- Protection of Local Ecosystems
The protection of local ecosystems is critical to an environmentally sensitive site design. Consider a site design that will protect and restore ecosystems and wildlife habitats on the site. Evaluating water runoff from the site, and mitigating where necessary, is also important to environmental protection. Utilizing permeable parking, rain gardens, and green roofs are some of the current technologies for site protection. Protection from light pollution, limiting exterior lighting to what is safe and comfortable, will make all the neighbors, both human and wildlife, happier.
- Planning for Educational Potential
The educational potential of green schools can be enhanced by integrating effective indoor-outdoor relationship between the building, the site, and the design of outdoor spaces as educational resources and venues. Planning for visual access to green building systems can also make the building a valuable teaching tool.
- Reduce Traffic Congestion
An important consideration when selecting a site for new school construction is to utilize the existing mass transit and other transportation networks. Thoughtful site choice can help to reduce environmental impacts and increase the use of green transportation by both staff and students. Siting district schools in clusters can help reduce transportation use, as well as allow for shared facilities, such as event overflow parking.
Designing the site to reduce or eliminate vehicular travel to the school helps to reduce fuel usage and emissions, improving the air quality in and around the school. In many school districts across the country, more energy dollars are spent by the school outside of their school buildings. Up to 40% of morning traffic congestion at schools is a result of parents driving children to school.
Incorporating a network of safe walkways and bike paths that connect into the community’s sidewalks and greenways can reduce local traffic congestion, minimize busing cost, and reduce air pollution. The design of walkways should consider the safety of the students by providing separate bike paths, caution lights, crossing lights, and underpasses or overpasses.
- Choosing the Building Orientation
By orienting your school building effectively, you can maximize solar access and boost the effectiveness of daylighting strategies, reducing the need for electrical lighting as well as heating and cooling loads. Orienting the building linearly on an east-west axis can help achieve this. By maximizing well-controlled, south-facing glass and maximizing east- and west facing glass, energy performance is greatly enhanced, comfort conditions are improved, and initial as well as lifetime costs associated with cooling are reduced. It is essential to investigate renewable systems early in the planning process. Solar photovoltaic and hot water systems need to have solar access, and wind systems require proper placement to maximize efficiency.
- Joint Use Facilities
Schools are an important part of the town’s infrastructure. Plan schools to share facilities. Whether the school will be able to open its auditorium, gymnasium, or classrooms after hours, or share a municipal library or pool space, co-use makes good sense.
- Native Landscaping
By planting trees and shrubs native to Connecticut, schools can reduce the amount of required upkeep, as these plants are already acclimated to Connecticut weather. Thus, they require little or no pesticides, fertilizers, or irrigation, which compared to conventional landscaping, will save money from the start. Also, by reducing chemical use, you’ll be reducing your school’s impact on the surrounding environment.