Schools as Centers of Community
Central to the concept of creating a more livable community is the quality of the services, resources and amenities that it has to offer its residents. Public schools play an important role in attracting and retaining residents, and they will be evaluated not only by the test scores and quality of the diction that they produce but also for their ability to enrich the lives of the non-grade school age residents. Schools present a unique opportunity: to fulfill the promise that education and community are indivisible. Much as branch libraries help broaden the range of library services available to area residents, so, too could the public school system be used to supplement various community-orineted services.
In planning for alterations to public schools, the needs of the communities
High performance schools are designed for thermal and acoustic comfort, high indoor air quality, security and safety, energy and resource efficiency, ease of operation and maintenance, and they make good use of natural light. Extensive research has uncovered a relationship between the physical setting of a classroom and academic performance. The bottom line: when students are in a quiet, well-lit and properly ventilated environment, they will learn faster because they are more comfortable and thus better able to concentrate and assimilate information.
As the schools become Centers of Community and draw in a larger portion of the neighborhood population, it becomes critical that their physical facilities are designed to be environmentally responsible, cost effective, physically comfortable and inviting. Building orientation and form, amount of natural light, low maintenance materials and well-designed HVAC systems are all design considerations that contribute to the creation of a high performance school.