Schools with optimal indoor environments boost student performance and energy efficiency

World Green Building Council report confirms that lighting, indoor air quality, thermal comfort and acoustics impact learning.

December 18, 2017 |

Schools that provide optimal indoor environments see improved student performance and, if designed well, can also boost energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint.

According to a report by the World Green Building Council, providing ample daylighting and energy efficient LED lighting can reduce emissions while improving achievement. For example, the report found that students in the U.S. showed a 36% increase in oral reading fluency when exposed to high-intensity light, while those in standard lighting conditions increased by only 16%.

One in five U.S. schools has poor indoor environmental quality. This includes high temperatures and humidity, air quality with high concentrations of various pollutants, exposure to loud noise sources, and inadequate lighting. These factors negatively affect children’s health, behavior, and academic performance.

In a related study of the Barrington School District near Chicago, Ill., conducted by DLR Group, CO2 levels reached up to 2,500 parts per million in some cases, which is well beyond recommended levels (around 800 ppm) for internal environments. “Buildings in general, and schools in particular, need to be designed and built for the well-being of each of us, while addressing the challenges of resource efficiency and climate change,” concluded Pascal Eveillard, Deputy Vice President for Sustainable Development and Director for Sustainable Habitat at Saint-Gobain.

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