What are schools coming to these days? How about schools that can increase student test scores, making the learning environment healthier, quieter and more comfortable? Or schools that can save up to 40% of their annual utility costs, allowing more money to be spent on books, salaries and teaching supplies? What about schools that make a positive impact on the environment, using non-toxic, durable materials that are recycled?
Are these the schools of the future? No, these are today's new high performance schools, designed and built to be energy and resource efficient. They provide a healthy and productive environment for our students and teachers, without costing a penny more than conventional school buildings.
The Department of Energy estimates that schools nationwide spend more than $6 billion annually on energy costs. Add to that the costs of water, wastewater processing and trash collection, and the cost per student averages about $140. Consider that 6,000 new schools will be built nationwide by 2007 and imagine the opportunity this affords school districts - they can reduce that cost of $140 to $85 per student by building high performance schools.
According to the Collaborative for High Performance Schools www.CHPS.net, California educates 1 out of every 8 students in the United States with the state seeing enrollment rates four times higher than national averages. Hundreds of schools a year are being built to house over 125,000 new students moving into the system and to expand capacity for class-size reduction programs. The current building stock is aging and over 30% of existing facilities need a major renovation. At the same time, California schools are spending nearly $750 million on energy, more than the combined cost of supplies and books.
As a school superintendent, business official, board member, concerned parent or community member, you have the ability to help guide the facility development process, ensuring the next school built in your community is a high performance one. Vision, determination and knowledge are all you need.