Inside: Indoor Environmental Quality

ASSESSING THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is offering schools a free software program that can help evaluate environmental and safety issues.

Schools can download the Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEAT) program from the EPA's website and install it on their own computers.

“The guidance included in healthySEAT can improve the health of students and staff by ensuring that all potential environmental and safety hazards in schools are being properly managed,” the EPA says.

The software has three primary components:

  • Customization enables a school system to add its own name and district logo, facilities, assessors and contacts for remediation. A school can tailor the content to reflect its own policies, programs and priorities.

  • School-specific assessments. A school can enter and store information about every assessment conducted at individual schools and track the status of every recommendation.

  • A reports/output menu enables administrators to generate a variety of reports that will organize and extract information by school, by topic or other categories.

The software can be downloaded at http://www.epa.gov/schools/healthyseat/downloads1.html.

HEALTHY SCHOOLS GUIDE

The Healthy Schools Campaign, a Chicago-based group that helps schools adopt green-cleaning policies and programs, is publishing a multimedia how-to guide to help schools accomplish those goals.

The organization says that a green-cleaning program for schools should have these elements: use of safe and environmentally friendly cleaning products; use of equipment that reduces the need for cleaning solutions and promotes healthy indoor air; adoption of cleaning procedures that reduce exposure; use of recycled paper products; and involvement of all school members in promoting a clean and healthy environment.

The guide has an eight-page handbook and a CD-ROM that covers five areas:

  • Why green cleaning in schools?

  • Five simple steps to green cleaning.

  • Institutionalizing your green-clean program.

  • Answers to common questions about green cleaning.

  • Real school examples.

The guide also includes a purchasing guide that lists products that are consistent with the campaign's Green Clean recommendations.

For information about ordering the guide, go to www.healthyschoolscampaign.org/campaign/green_clean_guide.

Until now, any school facilities that have achieved LEED-certification for sustainable facilities have been judged by the same criteria as other, non-educational facilities. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), recognizing “the unique nature of the design of K-12 schools,” is developing a Green Building Rating System specific to K-12 schools.

The council, which established the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system for new construction, is adapting those guidelines to reflect specific characteristics of school construction.

The USGBC has prepared a draft document of proposed guidelines for the school rating system. Among the areas for which the proposed new system would award points are issues such as classroom acoustics, master planning, joint-use of facilities, mold prevention, and use of a school facility as a teaching tool.

Under the proposed school ratings, a school could earn as many as 77 LEED points; in the more general new construction rating system, 69 points is the highest potential score.

The official public release of the application guide is expected by winter 2006-07, according to the council.

SCHOOL-SPECIFIC RATINGS

Until now, any school facilities that have achieved LEED-certification for sustainable facilities have been judged by the same criteria as other, non-educational facilities. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), recognizing “the unique nature of the design of K-12 schools,” is developing a Green Building Rating System specific to K-12 schools.

The council, which established the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system for new construction, is adapting those guidelines to reflect specific characteristics of school construction.

The USGBC has prepared a draft document of proposed guidelines for the school rating system. Among the areas for which the proposed new system would award points are issues such as classroom acoustics, master planning, joint-use of facilities, mold prevention and use of a school facility as a teaching tool.

Under the proposed school ratings, a school could earn as many as 77 LEED points; in the more general new construction rating system, 69 points is the highest potential score.

The official public release of the application guide is expected by winter 2006-07, according to the council.

Proposed certification levels for LEED for Schools

Certification Levels Points (maximum 77)
Platinum 57 to 77
Gold 43 to 56
Silver 36 to 42
Certified 29 to 35
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