New report shows green improvements in school buildings have positive impacts on student performance

Wednesday 29th November 2017

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 presents.

Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council, said: “The environment of a school building has a tremendous impact on how a student learns. 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 realise 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 priortise health and wellbeing, 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, summarises 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 US showed a 36% increase in oral reading fluency when exposed to high- intensity light, while those in standard lighting conditions increased by only 16%
  • 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% more correct answers in a maths test compared to those who were hot, according to a survey of more than 4,000 Finnish students
  • Acoustics – For every 10 decibel increase in noise, the language and maths scores of French students decreased by 5.5 points

Optimising lighting, indoor air quality, thermal comfort and acoustics can not 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, UK, which included building in all four key areas for optimal school environments; thermal comfort, visual comfort, acoustic comfort and indoor-air comfort.

Pascal Eveillard, Deputy Vice President for Sustainable Development and Director for Sustainable Habitat at Saint-Gobain, said: “For Saint-Gobain, comfort and sustainability go hand in hand. Buildings in general, and schools in particular, need to be designed and built for the wellbeing of each of us, while addressing the challenges of resource efficiency and climate change.”

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, Ill., examined elements of what they call “User Comfort”, including acoustic satisfaction, thermal comfort, indoor air quality and visual comfort. This information, collected through student engagement with data logger equipment, armed the District to make data-driven decisions in appropriate tax dollars to improving their learning environments. 

According to the US Green Building Council, the average high school graduate has spent over 1.5 years of their life, 14,000 hours, inside a school building. And according to a study, one in five US 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 behaviour, and in turn, their academic performance.

Whitney Austin Gray, Senior Vice President at Delos, a pioneer of health in buildings, said: “As schools are a place of learning and growing, we have to create safe and healthy environments for our future leaders. Schools thus become places to learn, and places in which we learn to live healthier lives.”

Today’s report is released under WorldGBC’s global project Better Places for People which has examined the health, wellbeing and productivity benefits of green buildings, and specifically offices and retail buildings.

View the full report here

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 presents.

Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council, said: “The environment of a school building has a tremendous impact on how a student learns. 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 realise 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 priortise health and wellbeing, 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, summarises 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 US showed a 36% increase in oral reading fluency when exposed to high- intensity light, while those in standard lighting conditions increased by only 16%

  • 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% more correct answers in a maths test compared to those who were hot, according to a survey of more than 4,000 Finnish students

  • Acoustics – For every 10 decibel increase in noise, the language and maths scores of French students decreased by 5.5 points

Optimising lighting, indoor air quality, thermal comfort and acoustics can not 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, UK, which included building in all four key areas for optimal school environments; thermal comfort, visual comfort, acoustic comfort and indoor-air comfort.

Pascal Eveillard, Deputy Vice President for Sustainable Development and Director for Sustainable Habitat at Saint-Gobain, said: “For Saint-Gobain, comfort and sustainability go hand in hand. Buildings in general, and schools in particular, need to be designed and built for the wellbeing of each of us, while addressing the challenges of resource efficiency and climate change.”

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, Ill., examined elements of what they call “User Comfort”, including acoustic satisfaction, thermal comfort, indoor air quality and visual comfort. This information, collected through student engagement with data logger equipment, armed the District to make data-driven decisions in appropriate tax dollars to improving their learning environments. 

According to the US Green Building Council, the average high school graduate has spent over 1.5 years of their life, 14,000 hours, inside a school building. And according to a study, one in five US 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 behaviour, and in turn, their academic performance.

Whitney Austin Gray, Senior Vice President at Delos, a pioneer of health in buildings, said: “As schools are a place of learning and growing, we have to create safe and healthy environments for our future leaders. Schools thus become places to learn, and places in which we learn to live healthier lives.”

Today’s report is released under WorldGBC’s global project Better Places for People which has examined the health, wellbeing and productivity benefits of green buildings, and specifically offices and retail buildings.

View the full report here