Saturday, September 27, 2008

Designing the Sustainable School

In his book "Designing the Sustainable School" Alan Ford provides numerous examples of innovative school building designs that apply the latest stardards in green building design and construction.

Obviously green buildings are better for the environment, but they also tend to be better for the occupants with reduced levels of toxins and chemicals that can cause allergies and asthma. Even more than that I like the idea that Alan proposes in his intro that, "Green schools are also wonderful educational tools in and of themselvers, serving as living laboratories to engage kids in the sciences, building arts, and environmental stewardship".

In addition to sustainability, the designs in this collection employ innovative use of color, light and improving acoustical and visual quality--all elements that have been shown to be more condusive to learning. In fact, in a study done by CABE on the "Value of Good Design", they site research from Georgetown University that improving a school's physical environment had an average increase of 10.9% on overall test scores.

Interestingly, many of the schools in this collection are located in Oregon, Washington and Colorado. There are a few examples from California such as the Berkeley Montessori School and this school design (at left) for L.A. School of the Arts which I like more from the standpoint of interesting and futuristic design than sustainability.

On the sustainability front, I particularly like this design for the Chum Creek Outdoor Education Centre in Australia. Designed for "Earth Education" the centre focuses on hands-on learning and students control the building's heading, cooling and ventilation systems by closing louvers, pulling out awnings, etc. Waste disposal is minimized by on-site treatment that includes composting and a worm farm. This design definitely incorporates the idea of the school as a living laboratory.

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Books on my reading list

  • A Whole New Mind
  • Designing the Sustainable School
  • Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning & Creativity
  • Digital Storytelling: A Creator's Guide to Interactive Entertainment
  • How to Grow a School
  • No Homework & Recess All Day
  • The World is Flat