National Healthy Schools Day
In an effort to promote and support healthy indoor school environments, the Healthy Schools Network organizes National Healthy Schools Day on an annual basis in early April. Organizations from across the country undertake campaigns to raise awareness of the impacts that physical school buildings have on students and staff. The lasting impact of this work creates a broad-based network of stakeholders working towards the shared goal of providing healthier school facilities for children.
NEEP fully supports this initiative on Healthy Schools Day and every other day throughout the year through our High Performance Schools Initiative.
How do high performance schools provide greater public benefits?
High performance schools are designed, built, and maintained to support three main pillars: (1) health, (2) productivity, and (3) environmental stewardship. Energy usage in school buildings play a critical role in all three of these pillars. By focusing on these three core principles, communities will feel the lasting impact through better educational outcomes, improved occupant health, and reduced utility bills.
Why is it important to focus on high performance schools?
Students spend more than 15,000 hours in school buildings throughout their educational careers and are adversely affected by poor building conditions. Designing and building schools to a higher standard, while paying special attention to energy-consuming systems (e.g. HVAC, lighting, etc.), supports better health and learning, while also lowering utility bills. Below are a few key points that demonstrate the connection between facilities and their occupants:
- Higher ventilation rates and improved indoor air quality can combat absenteeism linked to respiratory issues
- High quality lighting – both natural and artificial – promotes increased attentiveness and productivity
- Appropriate acoustical levels helps ensure students can hear their instructors and are not distracted by background noise
Who is involved in NEEP’s stakeholder group?
NEEP collaborates with a broad-range of stakeholders in order to achieve our collective goals related to schools. Community-level stakeholders and design teams that are striving to build a high performance school can engage with NEEP to learn more about technical assistance and other resources available to make projects a success. NEEP also engages with state-level officials to ensure programs and policies are established to support projects at the local level.
What resources and support is available?
NEEP and partner organizations have developed numerous resources that support high performance schools initiatives. See below for more information and links to a variety of assistance materials. NEEP is also available for more direct technical assistance sessions to assist communities. Contact John Balfe for more information.
COVID-19 Operating Guidance for Schools - this resource summarizes information to help schools continue to operate safely during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
NE-CHPS – a criteria for the design of high performance schools. This protocol can be used for new schools, major renovations, or in a phased approach over time. It was developed with input from regional stakeholders and fully supports healthy, energy-efficient learning environments.
High Performance School Exemplars – a state-by-state database to showcase schools that are built with high performance features. The database is always expanding, so check back for new schools or reach out if you want to get your project highlighted.
Regional Operations and Maintenance Guide – a user-friendly guide aimed at providing strategies and best practices for the ongoing operations and maintenance of public buildings.
Virtual High Performance School Tour – Christa McAuliffe School, Concord, NH
National Healthy Schools Day 2017 – Video Overview
DOE: Zero Energy K-12 Schools Hub
EPA: Creating Healthy Indoor Air Quality in Schools
CHPS: Getting Started with CHPS
NBI: Zero Energy Schools Stakeholder Engagement and Messaging Guide
Built Environment Plus: Zero Energy Buildings in MA: Saving Money from the Start
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Schools for Health – How School Buildings Influence Student Health, Thinking, and Performance
Steven Winter Associates: Buildings + Beyond Podcast – High Performance Schools