Learn more about how you can keep your school buildings sustainable and energy efficient with these four steps.
As the effects of climate change, rising carbon emissions and dwindling natural resources continue to be a hot topic of discussion among world leaders, it’s becoming more apparent than ever that we all need to take responsibility in securing the future of our planet — finding greener, more sustainable alternatives.
One sector that has seen a significant shift toward adopting eco-friendly practices is the construction industry, which seems to be revolutionizing the way not only commercial buildings but also educational institutions are constructed — creating learning spaces that put the planet first, without compromising the needs of students.
Embracing sustainability in schools can be beneficial in tackling a number of social, economic and environmental issues, too, so it’s critical for school leaders to have an awareness of designing (and even renovating) educational buildings that are cutting-edge, engaging and environmentally friendly.
Making Effective Use of Existing Space
In many modern educational institutions, the traditional classroom setup is now becoming obsolete, as the needs of students and teachers continue to evolve. With more focus on interactive learning, increasing emphasis is being placed on designing versatile learning environments to make better use of space — allowing classrooms and communal areas to be easily adapted for different teaching methods and uses.
In terms of sustainability, creating agile learning spaces can also positively impact the planet. This often cuts down on the need to draw from natural resources to construct new buildings, while also delivering welcome cost savings.
Implementing Sustainable Materials
Many of the common building materials used in commercial construction, such as steel and concrete, require a lot of energy to manufacture. They also contribute to carbon emissions in the atmosphere. But, as greener practices continue to embed themselves in construction, there are now a number of sustainable alternatives available that make use of recycled materials and waste byproducts, or have been designed to bolster their lifespan and energy efficiency.
From fully integrated solar roof tiles which generate power for the building to steel and concrete produced with recycled glass, wood chips or slag, opting for building materials that consume less energy in the production process and reuse waste components can be highly effective in upping the green credentials of schools.
Considering Modular Construction
One building method that’s gaining momentum as an eco-friendly solution for all kinds of development schemes is modular construction. From schools and hospitals to hotels and residential buildings, installing volumetric units that have been built off-site can be beneficial from both an environmental and economic perspective.
Off-site, modular units are constructed in a controlled environment that works to maximize build efficiency at every stage and guarantee energy efficiency in the finished product. On-site, the streamlined installation process minimizes the environmental impact associated with transportation. This streamlined construction process and efficient use of resources saves time, energy and money throughout the build, making it a truly cost-effective option.
Creating Passive Buildings
The everyday running costs of heating and powering conventional school buildings can burn a significant proportion of a school’s annual budget, but designing passive school buildings could provide a viable alternative that’s not only cost-effective but also environmentally sound.
Constructed with highly-insulated materials and integrated green technology, passive buildings help to alleviate the reliance on fossil fuels to heat and power buildings, as they’re designed to self-regulate internal temperatures and, in some cases, generate their own power supply through solar power.
With less resources required to cover the utility use within educational institutions, passive buildings offer an effective, affordable and sustainable solution that also promotes a positive environmental message.
When it comes to providing a safe and sustainable planet for future generations, embracing sustainability in school design is vital. And with green building methods quickly becoming the norm, it’s now easier than ever for developers and facilities managers to deliver educational spaces that promote sustainability without sacrificing students’ learning potential.