Green schools are designed to use water efficiently, provide clean air and be well insulated. Green buildings are also designed to remain dry, comfortable and quiet.
Many green schools have visible features like more windows to let in natural light, but green schools also have less visible features like effective insulation that reduces condensation. By managing excessive moisture green schools have reduced asthma and respiratory disease in schoolchildren.
Vivian Loftness is a professor of architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. She serves on the board of directors of the U.S. Green Building Council. In an article titled “Growing Green Schools,” Loftness references a 2002 study of 32 schools in Finland, where researchers identified an average 15 percent reduction in the prevalence of the common cold in school buildings that had no moisture or mold problems as compared with moisture or mold-damaged schools.
Loftness points to research that shows that managing noise in classrooms improves student learning and the development of language skills, as well as protecting teachers’ vocal cords. In a 2002 study of 10 preschools, researchers in Stockholm found an 11 percent reduction in vocal strain among teachers in quiet classrooms (with background noise levels of about 55 decibels) as compared with those in noisy classrooms (at a surprisingly common 75 decibels).
Loftness also points out that thermal comfort has a measured impact on student achievement and pest-control measures to help control indoor pollutants have been associated with reduced levels of respiratory disease.
The combination of elements that go into a green school create a healthier environment that promotes learning. The environmental benefits of green buildings are already clear, but increasingly people are seeking the health and performance benefits of green schools.
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