Building High-Performance Schools


Building High-Performance Schools

The Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC), a Washington, DC-based non-profit organization, has produced a series of on-line videos that introduce the concept of high-performance school buildings. The videos coincide with an unprecedented opportunity to build a new generation of schools: the General Accounting Office projects that 6,000 new K-12 schools will need to be built in America by 2007 in order to accommodate rapidly rising enrollments. SBIC's on-line videos are designed to help school districts nationwide ensure that these new schools are healthful, cost effective and sustainable.

Produced with support from the U.S. Department of Energy's Rebuild America/EnergySmart Schools program, the videos explain in layman's terms what a high-performance school is (three characteristics and 16 building blocks); why these schools are valuable to students, teachers, parents; and the community (seven benefits); and how to campaign for them locally. The videos include case studies of existing high-performance school buildings and highlight some of their benefits, such as:

  • Boosting students' attentiveness, productivity and test scores by maximizing natural daylight in classrooms. (A 1999 study of three public schools concluded that students with the most amount of daylighting in their classrooms progressed 20 percent faster on math tests and 26 percent faster on reading tests in one year than those with the least amount of daylighting ( )

  • Reducing illnesses and absences by ensuring healthful indoor air quality.

  • Protecting the environment through responsible site planning and the use of resource-efficient building methods and materials.

  • Paying for themselves over time with lower operating costs than conventional schools. (According to the U.S. Department of Energy, school districts can save 30 to 40 percent on utility costs each year with new schools and 20 to 30 percent with renovated schools that are designed and constructed with high-performance strategies. The potential for savings is greater in new schools because inefficiencies can be eliminated right from the start.) For more information, visit