Lexington, MA, Wednesday, April 9, 2014 – According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, roughly one in 10 children have asthma and are uniquely vulnerable to air quality issues within their schools. This vulnerability results in approximately 10.5 million missed school days each year. For these individuals, poor indoor air quality in our aging schools is a genuine problem with serious consequences. One way to mitigate these consequences is by building or renovating schools according to standards that emphasize superior indoor air quality, low toxicity building materials, and sustainable construction practices.
On the heels of yesterday’s 12th annual celebration of National Healthy Schools Day, the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance School (NE-CHPS) is releasing an updated version of its criteria to guide construction and renovation of healthier, more productive, less costly schools. Schools designed according to NE-CHPS criteria benefit from a significant reduction in indoor pollutants that affect heath, learning, and behavior.
Based on the pioneering Collaborative for High Performance Schools’ school design guide, NE-CHPS was adapted with input from regional stakeholders to mirror the climate, building codes, and educational priorities of the Northeast. The latest release, NE-CHPS 3.0, was developed with input from architects, engineers, and state agencies throughout the region.
“NE-CHPS schools are paving the way forward to the next generation of schools - schools that are healthy, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly,” said Carolyn Sarno, Senior Program Manager at NEEP and Vice Chair of the CHPS Board of Directors. “Using the school building itself as a teaching tool can help students understand the value of sustainable design, an understanding students carry with them into the broader community long after they’ve left the classroom.”
Investing in a school construction or renovation process that incorporates the NE-CHPS Criteria will pay dividends far into the future. For example, the Profile School in Bethlehem, NH renovated its facility according to an earlier version of the NE-CHPS criteria and attained a learning environment where all indoor spaces receive 100% outside air and 90% of the classrooms don’t require air conditioning. The resulting improved air quality and reduced operating costs will remain with the school long after the construction costs have been repaid.
Annual energy costs in America’s primary and secondary schools are a staggering $12 billion. According to the US EPA, if all new school construction and renovations went green today, energy savings alone could reach $20 billion over the next 10 years. A school designed to NE-CHPS guidelines can drastically reduce energy costs. For example, the Merrimack Valley High School in Penacook, NH renovated its school according to an earlier version of NE-CHPS and was able to reduce energy costs by 61%, largely due to building envelope improvements and the addition of a wood chip powered hydronic heat distribution system.
Thanks to input from of numerous stakeholders and an extended public comment period, the new and improved criteria—NE-CHPS 3.0—incorporates principles from the leading edge of sustainable building design and operation. Some of the most important revisions include:
- Improved acoustics requirements
- Crime prevention through environmental design
- Electric vehicle integration
- Use of the zero energy policy indicator (zEPI) scale
- Increased emphasis on benchmarking
- Greater occupant engagement focus
- Enhanced commissioning requirements
- District level commitment to sustainability
The NE-CHPS 3.0 criteria can be downloaded here.
“CHPS is excited to emphasize the connection between school facilities, children’s health, and learning through the release of the third version of the Northeast CHPS Criteria in support of National Healthy Schools Day,” said Bill Orr, CHPS Executive Director. “NE-CHPS is the first local CHPS rating system completed using the CHPS National Core Criteria which is a major leap forward for safe, healthy, high performance schools nationally. The new NE-CHPS Criteria is true regional collaboration on behalf of all the students in the Northeast to make every school an ideal place to learn.”
High performance schools are sprouting up throughout the Northeast. Among the exemplar schools are Claiborne Pell Elementary (Newport, R.I.), Archie R. Cole Middle School (East Greenwich, R.I.), East Bay MET School (Newport, R.I.), Kenne Middle School (Keene, N.H.), Profile School (Bethlehem, N.H.), and Merrimack Valley High School (Penacook, N.H.). Learn more about these high performance schools.