additional characteristics of green schools and the evidence for associations with health and development and report the results of those assessments in its final report.

To fulfill the statement of task, the committee will also synthesize the results of all of the assessments (overall task) and identify avenues of research that represent opportunities to leverage existing knowledge into a better understanding of the relationships between green building technologies in schools and the performance of students and teachers (task 4).


The charge to this committee is to review and assess existing empirical and theoretical studies on the possible connections between characteristics of green schools and the health and performance of students and teachers. Such an evaluation would ideally be based on a generally accepted definition of green schools that would convey specific architectural features, systems, and operational practices. However, there is no single, accepted definition among educational professionals, architects, and others, of what constitutes a “green school.” Instead, there are many definitions with varying levels of detail for green schools (sometimes referred to as “high-performance green schools” or “high-performance schools”). The definitions typically focus on environmental or other objectives to be achieved through “green” or sustainable design processes, features, and practices. Various sets of guidelines have been developed to suggest a multitude of ways in which the objectives can be achieved to some degree. Typically the guidelines move well beyond design and engineering criteria for school buildings to address land use, processes for construction and equipment installation, and operation and maintenance practices.

The committee’s task is further complicated by the fact that green schools are not standardized in their design and there are relatively few schools considered as exemplifying green design. Adding to the complexity is the need to draw on literature from a wide array of professional disciplines, including medicine, education, architecture, and engineering. These disciplines have developed differing research methodologies and criteria for determining causality. The committee also recognizes that many factors in a school as well as in a community and individual households influence the educational achievement of individuals and schools systems. Those factors or variables can be difficult to control for or measure in evidence-based studies, which, in turn, limits the inferences that can be drawn. In addition, the effects of the built environment will necessarily appear to be small, given the number of variables.


Given these complexities, the committee’s approach was to identify those characteristics of green schools that are typically emphasized in the current definitions and guidelines and that differ from conventional new school construction norms. The committee also identified those characteristics that potentially have a level of importance for health and learning outcomes. In this interim report, the committee focuses on the following

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