connections between green schools and student and teacher health. The results of this study should be of interest to a wide range of stakeholders, including school administrators, school district business managers, federal and state education officials, parents, and teachers, as well as architects and engineers specializing in school design, both green and conventional.


The line of reasoning inherent in this study’s task—mapping connections from physical environments to student and teacher outcomes (health, learning, productivity)—poses significant challenges. Numerous factors contribute to the complexity of the task, including the lack of a clear definition of what constitutes a green school, the variations in current green school guidelines, the difficulty of measuring educational and productivity outcomes, the variability and quality of the scientific literature, and confounding factors. All of these factors are described in Chapter 2.

Lacking specific guidance, the committee identified those building characteristics and practices typically emphasized in current green school guidelines. The committee determined that green schools have two complementary, but not identical, goals and resulting outcomes. The goals are (1) to support the health and development (physical, social, intellectual) of students, teachers, and staff by providing a healthy, safe, comfortable, and functional physical environment; and (2) to have positive environmental and community attributes. Because they were first developed to minimize adverse environmental effects, current green school guidelines place less emphasis on features supporting human health and development. In line with its charge, the committee focused on outcomes associated with student and teacher health, learning, and productivity.

The committee developed a conceptual model for evaluating the links between green school buildings and outcomes (Figure ES.1).

The conceptual model assumes that a green school building’s location and design (site; orientation; envelope; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; acoustics; lighting) will result in an indoor environment with appropriate (or inappropriate) levels of moisture, ventilation, air quality, noise, lighting, and other qualities. It also assumes that the indoor environment will be modified by season (e.g., presence of airborne pollen), over time (e.g., mold growth from chronic water leakage), and by operational, maintenance, repair, and cleaning practices. Finally, the indoor environment can affect student learning and health and teacher health and productivity.

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