Report: Green Improvements in Schools Positively Impact Student Performance
London — Achieving optimal levels in school buildings for air quality, lighting, temperature and acoustics through green improvements can help students achieve their full potential, a new report from the World Green Building Council says.
“The environment of a school building has a tremendous impact on how a student learns,” World Green Building Council CEO Terri Wills said. “It would seem obvious that if a student can’t hear their teacher, or is too hot to concentrate, that their performance would suffer, but many don’t realize that factors like CO2 levels and types of lighting, can also make a big difference on how students perform academically.
“By designing schools that are energy efficient, low carbon and that prioritize health and well-being, we can ensure students spend some of the most important days of their lives learning in truly green schools.”
The report, compiled by the World Green Building Council, summarizes global research over the past two decades and identifies lighting, indoor air quality, thermal comfort and acoustics as key areas where sustainable improvements can positively affect students.
Key findings for each environmental factor, include:
Lighting – Students in the U.S. showed a 36 percent increase in oral reading fluency when exposed to high-intensity light, while those in standard lighting conditions increased by only 16 percent.
Indoor air quality – Every 100-parts-per-million increase in CO2 was associated to a roughly one-half day per year reduction in UK school attendance.
Thermal comfort - Students citing their classroom as “comfortable” achieved 4 percent more correct answers in a math test compared to those who were hot, according to a survey of more than 4,000 Finnish students.
Acoustics – For every 10-db increase in noise, the language and math scores of French students decreased by 5.5 points.
Optimising lighting, indoor air quality, thermal comfort and acoustics cannot only help to improve students’ learning outcomes, but – depending on the strategy used – can reduce energy use and lower carbon emissions in schools. For example, providing ample windows and energy efficient LED lighting can reduce emissions and create a productive and healthy school environment.
Companies are putting principles of green school design into action. In partnership with Associated Architects and Main Contractor Speller Metcalfe, Saint-Gobain recently completed the build of a new multi-purpose school hall for The King’s School, Worcester, United Kingdom, which included building in all four key areas for optimal school environments; thermal comfort, visual comfort, acoustic comfort and indoor-air comfort.
Original research conducted by another company reinforces the problem of poor environments in schools. The study, conducted by DLR Group in partnership with 11 schools in Barrington School District near Chicago, examined elements of what they call “user comfort,” including acoustic satisfaction, thermal comfort, indoor air quality and visual comfort.
The information, collected through student engagement with data logger equipment, armed the district to make data-driven decisions in appropriate tax dollars to improve learning environments.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the average high school graduate has spent more than 1.5 years of their life, 14,000 hours, inside a school building. And according to a study, one in five U.S. schools has poor indoor environmental quality including high temperatures and humidity, air quality with high concentrations of various pollutants, exposure to loud noise sources, and inadequate lighting, all of which have been shown to negatively affect children’s health and behavior, and in turn, their academic performance.
Too see the report, visit www.worldgbc.org/news-media/better-places-people-research-health-wellbeing-and-performance-green-schools