Of all the structures we build today, none are as important as school buildings. These are the places that shape our children and future generations of children into the citizen caretakers of us as we age and the planet we will pass on to them. The health and well-being of students, particularly young students, are directly impacted by the spaces we build for them to live in during these most formative years of their lives. Simple strategies including daylighting, use of sustainable and non-toxic building materials, and the use of renewable energy sources can positively affect students health, well-being, and performance in the classroom.
Through our school designs of today we explicitly demonstrate to all children our value of learning, as well as, our values of the environment. We are in the time of adaptability, where the spaces students learn in must connect to the environment, and be adaptable to future uses and changes. Sustainable design in schools must go beyond energy efficiency, into the realm of wonder, exhibiting a sense of beauty and awe that touches the hearts of the young, impressionable learners.
Schools are not factories of learning, but places where community is shaped and developed. Schools should create and revive a sense of place that strengthens the community of students as well as the broader community in which it resides., with the classroom as the microcosm of this relationship. The school as a whole can connect to the larger environment through it’s efficient use of energy, and resource conservation. Along with durable materials and construction methods, a school can provide long term operational savings.