When educators and school administrators describe their vision for new K-12 school buildings as ‘21st-century learning spaces,’ they’re not exaggerating. Many new schools are truly different in concept from their counterparts of only a few years ago.

September 07, 2012

5. Don’t hesitate to bring in a technical consultant to improve the learning environment.

There is strong support among school officials, teachers, and parents for the proposition that plentiful daylight and fresh air help children learn better, even though getting daylighting and indoor air quality right is not as easy as it may seem to laypersons.

In such a case, it may be wise to bring in a specialist. Design firm Fanning Howey did just that in hiring renowned daylighting expert James Benya of Benya Lighting Design, West Linn, Ore., on the Ft. Huachuca project to provide advice on balancing light and shade for the southern Arizona sun, a factor that was crucial to the sustainability goals of this net-zero energy project.

Water infiltration is another serious problem to contend with. “We often bring in a waterproofing consultant because one of the biggest concerns is mold and mildew from water infiltration,” says Tony Papantonis, President of Nauset Construction, Needham, Mass. Choosing the right flashing and sealants is critical to maintaining healthy indoor air quality, he says, and such a consultant can save everyone headaches down the line.


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