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Why design or build a green school?

The benefits of building green schools

The benefits of green buildings continue to stack up. The benefits of building green schools, universities and other teaching facilities include:

A more productive place to learn

Students that attend schools with healthy air to breathe and conditions that encourage learning are happier, healthier and perform better academically.

  • A pilot study by the University of Salford (2012) has found that the classroom environment can affect a child’s academic progress over a year by as much as 25%.
  • Greening America's Schools: Costs and Benefits (2006) found that green schools and universities can deliver a:
    >   41.5% improvement in the health of students and teachers
    >   15% improvement in student learning 
    >   25% improvement on test scores due to good lighting and ventilation.
  • Similarly, the Heschong Mahone Daylighting Study (1999) of more than 21,000 students showed a dramatic correlation between daylit school environments and student performance, including:
    >   20% faster progression in maths
    >   26% faster progression in reading 
    >   5–10% increase in performance when students had window views.

Our staff and students are finding it a wonderful place to work and learn. It’s proof that achieving our sustainability targets has also improved learning conditions
Dr Peter Whitley, Gipps TAFE’s Chief Executive Office

At Gipps TAFE Leongatha in Victoria, ventilation rates have been improved to boost concentration, health and comfort for staff and students.

Read the Gipps TAFE Leongatha case study.

A better place to teach

Teachers spend up to 90 % of their day indoors, so they benefit from buildings with natural daylight, fresh air and access to views.

The Impact of School Buildings on Student Health and Performance (2012) outlined a range of studies that found teacher quality and retention can be influenced by the school environment. 

  • One study found that the quality of facilities had a “substantively important effect on teacher retention,” even when statistically controlling for other potential factors like pay, parent and community involvement and age of the teacher. Researchers also found that the quality of the teaching environment was a greater factor in teacher retention than pay rates.
  • Research indicates that green schools lead to healthier, happier teachers who take fewer sick days. Greening America's Schools: Costs and Benefits (2006) estimated that teacher retention in green schools translates into a financial savings of about US$4 per square foot (roughly AUD$12 a metre) over a 20 year period. 
  • Daylighting in Schools found that teachers report higher levels of comfort in their classrooms when they have access to thermal controls like thermostats or operable windows.

The Australian Institute of Management (AIM) wanted its Green Star-rated Katitjin Centre in Perth to capture the hearts and minds of highly influential state and national decision-makers. The Katitjin Centre will allow them to see, touch, feel and operate in a world-leading Green Star-rated building.

Read a case study on AIM’s Katitjin Centre.

The Australian Institute of Management (AIM) “provide a tangible experience that will equip our clients with the knowledge, enthusiasm and confidence that green buildings are possible, practical and can deliver real benefits to users 

      Patrick Cullen, AIM’s Chief Executive Officer 

Attractive to students

In a market where universities are competing for both domestic and foreign students, outstanding green buildings create a competitive advantage.

Environmental benefits

Building green is a clear expression of commitment to the environment. The Value of Green Star: A decade of environmental benefits (2013) finds that, on average, Green Star-certified buildings: 

  • Use 66% less electricity than average Australian buildings
  • Produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average Australian buildings
  • Use 51% less potable water than average buildings
  • Recycle 96% of their waste, compared with 58% for the average new construction project.

The Sir Samuel Griffith Centre gives an absolute physical expression to this university’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. It is a showcase of genuine sustainable energy alternatives for Australia and the international community
        Vice Chancellor, Professor Ian O’Connor

The Sir Samuel Griffith Centre is a $40 million world-class building and Australia’s first off-grid, self-powering teaching and research facility. The building is a model for smart energy buildings, incorporating photovoltaics and hydrogen technology that is reliable and produces zero carbon emissions.

Read a case study on the Sir Samuel Griffith Centre.

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