Monday, April 8, 2013

Study by Institute for the Built Environment Reveals Cost Effectiveness, Energy Efficiency, and Positive Human Impact of Green Schools

A report released today by the Institute for the Built Environment details a research study conducted on a national sample of 12 green schools and illustrates the positive impacts of green school design.  The schools participating in the study were designed with sustainability in mind, but had not been evaluated for the design effectiveness or the long-term impact on operations.  Cost and utility data were collected for each sample school and compared to national and regional benchmarks.  In addition, teachers and maintenance staff at each school were questioned to identify common perceptions and observations.  Key results included:

  • Responses to the occupant survey indicate that green school facilities have a positive impact on occupants. Respondents were enthusiastic about their green school with the majority perceiving positive effects on student health, achievement, and behavior.
  • Cost analysis rebuts the common perception that higher design and construction costs must be incurred to build green schools. The majority of green schools in the sample were built below the regional median cost for schools built in the same year.
  • In energy performance, the sample operated above the ENERGY STAR national median, with a sample mean score of 81. A rating of 81 indicates that a building is operating in the top 19th percentile, or better than 81% of similar buildings nationwide. In addition, eight of the schools met or exceeded the Architecture 2030 Challenge 2012 targets for Energy Use Intensity (EUI).
  • Finally, through interviews with facility managers, we confirmed that the buildings’ efficiency is also illustrated through perceived efficiencies in the daily operation and maintenance of the facilities.

The study was commissioned by DLR Group, an integrated design firm with offices across the United States.  This study was pursued in order to evaluate high performance building metrics and to measure the effectiveness of design. The execution of this study is part of a firm-wide effort to evaluate and advance the performance of their designs.