Whether it's termed "Sustainable", "High Performance", "Green", or "Environmentally-friendly", people have varied notions about what sustainable building means. Some think it means saving energy. Others think it means protecting the environment. While these are important aspects of sustainability, they are not sufficient to describe it, because sustainability has a human dimension as well.
Sustainable building can provide improvements in lifestyle, comfort, satisfaction, and health along with protecting ecosystems and saving energy and resources. It integrates the project designing, planning, and engineering, in order to work with, not against nature. Sustainable building practices incorporate nature's "free" services (wind, sun, thermal properties, greenhouse principles, light, etc.) to create a high quality indoor environment while circumventing as much damage to the ambient environment as possible.
Buildings are a primary source of pollution that leads to urban air quality problems, climate change, habitat destruction, and overfilled landfills. The challenge will be to design and construct buildings prudently, so that they use a minimum of nonrenewable energy, produce minimum pollution, and use as little extracted material resources as possible, while at the same time increasing the comfort, health, and safety of the people who live and work in them.
Traditional building practices often overlook the interrelationships between a building, its components, its surroundings, and its occupants. "Typical" buildings consume more of our resources than necessary, negatively impact the environment, and generate a large amount of waste.
Conversely, sustainable building practices offer an opportunity to create environmentally sound and resource-efficient buildings by using an integrated approach to design. Sustainable buildings promote resource conservation, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation features; consider environmental impacts and waste minimization; create a healthy and comfortable environment; reduce operation and maintenance costs; and address issues such as historical preservation, access to public transportation and other community infrastructure systems. The entire lifecycle of the building and its components is considered, as well as the economic and environmental impact and performance.
"High Performance School" refers to the physical facility. Good teachers and motivated students can overcome inadequate facilities and perform at a high level almost anywhere, but a well-designed facility can truly enhance performance and make education a more enjoyable and rewarding experience. A high performance school is healthy; thermally, visually, and acoustically comfortable; energy, material, and water efficient; safe and secure; easy to maintain and operate; commissioned; has an environmentally responsive site; is a building that teaches; a community resource; is stimulating architecture; and is adaptable to changing needs.
The Division of the State Architect's goal is to work in a coordinated effort with other organizations to provide a comprehensive website on sustainable school construction issues. By utilizing the tools presented, schools can become shining examples of high performance building in their community, and will be looked upon as the leaders and pioneers of a new era of environmental, communal, and economic-conscious construction.
California Energy Commission (CEC) - Bright Schools Program
The Bright Schools Program offers specific services to help schools become more energy wise, at little or no cost to the schools. This program can provide design consultation, identify cost-effective energy-saving measures, compare different technologies, develop specifications for energy-efficient equipment, help select architects and other design professionals with school construction and energy-efficiency expertise, review construction plans, and complete value engineering of specific energy-efficiency measures.
Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
CHPS aims to facilitate the design of high performance schools in California - environments that are not only resource efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit and contain the amenities needed for a quality education. CHPS has developed a set of Best Practices Manuals (available at www.CHPS.net) to create a new generation of high performance school facilities in California.
California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) - Green Building section
CIWMB is one of the leaders among State agencies in the area of sustainable design. Their website offers resources for design, construction, waste management, case studies, material selection and much more.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Design Tools for Schools
This comprehensive resource covers site evaluation and selection, selection of the architectural and engineering design team, conceptual (schematic) design phase, design documents, construction documents, bid specifications, construction administration, and occupancy.
U.S. Department of Energy - EnergySmart Schools
EnergySmart Schools is a campaign of the Department of Energy and its Rebuild America program. EnergySmart Schools offers schools training workshops, publications, recognition, direct technical assistance, financing options, and a host of other resources toward making school facilities more energy efficient. Resources available on the website include step-by-step guidance for making schools more energy efficient, classroom materials and activities, and information about school buses.
Environmental Building News (EBN)
EBN is a monthly publication with articles, reviews, and news stories on energy-efficient, resource-efficient, and healthy building practices.
Healthy School Environments
The Healthy School Environments Web pages are intended to serve as a gateway to on-line resources to help facility managers, school administrators, architects, design engineers, school nurses, parents, teachers and staff address environmental health issues in schools.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
LEED is a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (U.S.GBC). The intent was to develop a rating system that provided a framework for measuring "how green a building is".
National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF) - Impact of Facilities on Learning
NCEF's resource list of links, books, and journal articles examining the association between student achievement and the physical environment of school buildings and grounds.
New Schools, Better Neighborhoods (NSBN)
This organization promotes the community joint use of schools byway of designing smaller school facilities that can build upon and accommodate existing community land and facilities to save on the time, money, land, and other resources used to duplicate functions elsewhere.
Site includes a searchable database, called REDI, of more than 1,700 companies that offer green building products. You'll also find information on books, videos, and software related to green building and design, a product gallery of new and interesting products, useful information on sustainable design and construction, and a newsletter filled with ideas for making your building project more energy- and resource-efficient.
Rocky Mountain Institute
Rocky Mountain Institute is a nonprofit research and educational foundation with a vision across boundaries. Its mission is to foster the efficient and sustainable use of resources as a path to global security. The Institute creates, and helps individuals and the private sector to practice, new solutions to old problems-mainly by harnessing the problem-solving power of market economics and of advanced techniques for resource efficiency.
Savings by Design
A program that offers services and incentives to help architects and building owners raise energy performance to a top priority when planning new facilities. The program is funded by California utility customers and administered by PG&E, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas.
U.S. Department of Energy
Comprehensive sustainable building site of the U.S. Department of Energy's website.
U.S. Green Building Council
Founded in 1993, the U.S. Green Building Council is a coalition of more than 250 leading international organizations whose mission is to accelerate the adoption of green building practices, technologies, policies, and standards. A committee-based organization, the U.S.GBC is endeavoring to move the green building industry forward with market-based solutions.