NCEF Resource List: Using the School Building As A Teaching Tool
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Information on using the school building as a teaching and learning tool, compiled by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities.

References to Books and Other Media

When the Building is the Teacher
Stone, Michael K.; Dale, John; and Sly, Carolie
(Center for Ecoliteracy, Apr 2012)
Essay explores how campus, teaching, and learning complement each other. Discussion is based on the Lodi Unified School District, in California's Central Valley, design of a new STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] Academy for the district. The campus's sustainable features will include maximizing natural daylighting and indoor environmental quality, incorporating bioswales for management of surface water, and a goal of achieving grid-neutral status through energy conservation and production of electricity through photovoltaics and wind power. The campus is intended to enhance learning, to be a teacher itself, and to support a unique curriculum organized around major themes of green technology.

Green Building Program
(Green Education Foundation, 2012)
Provides curriculum and resources to K-12 students and teachers. The GEF Green Building Program educates K-12 students on green building attributes and benefits, and provides them with the educational resources necessary to understand, identify, and improve environmental inefficiencies within their own school buildings.

Therapeutic Schoolyard: Design for Children with Autism
King, Chelsey
(Kansas State University, Jan 2012)
Needs of children with autism vary from child to child, but they all can benefit from environments that are designed with awareness of challenges and characteristics associated with autism. Schoolyards commonly contain asphalt, turf, and traditional play structures that do not take into consideration the needs of children with mental or physical disabilities. However, schoolyards can be designed to provide therapeutic benefits on these children without segregating them from the larger school community. In order to understand how a schoolyard might be designed as a therapeutic environment for children with autism the challenges, needs, and common therapies for children with autism must be understood. The characteristics of therapeutic landscapes for children must be considered in addition. After examining both therapeutic landscapes and the many facets of autism, the researcher applied lessons learned to the design of a schoolyard master plan for Amanda Arnold Elementary School in Manhattan, Kansas. [Author's abstract] 142p

Rooftop Revolution. How Solar Panels on Public School Rooftops Can Jumpstart the Local Green Collar Economy and Dramatically Expand Renewable Energy in New York City Adobe PDF
Stringer, Scott
(Office of the Manhattan Borough President, Jan 2012)
Describes how New York City's public school system, the nation's largest, could be a launching pad for the expansion of solar energy in the city, using structured Power Purchase Agreements. Report presents data showing installation of solar panels on the rooftops of 1,094 school buildings could host 169.46 megawatts of clean, renewable energy and eliminate 76,696 tons of carbon from the air each year. Report also suggests that the Department of Education should develop curriculum for all schools focused on solar and other forms of renewable energy. 32p

Reimagining the Classroom: Opportunities to Link Recent Advances in Pedagogy to Physical Settings Adobe PDF
De Gregori, Alessandro
(McGraw-Hill Research Foundation , Nov 2011)
Examines how a classroom's physical environment (as defined by its design, layout, furnishings, and space utilization) can be manipulated to enhance its learning environment. Presents three case studies on schools where the physical environment has been purposely designed to facilitate unique pedagogical models with marked success; reflects on why the potential for using a classroom's physical setting to optimize its teaching model has not been studied more rigorously; and considers what can be done to enhance the knowledge base in this unexplored yet vital area of study. 16p

The Journey of Sustainable Schools: Developing and Embedding Sustainability. Adobe PDF
(National College for School Leadership, UK , Oct 2011)
This report is for school leaders who are leading and developing sustainable schools. It summarizes the findings from Forum for the Future and the Institute of Education's 2009-10 research for the National College into how school leaders are developing and embedding sustainability within their schools and communities. It includes examples of the skills, tools and activities school leaders are using to do this. Includes characteristics of a sustainable school. The study highlighted that there are two distinct phases of innovation as schools make the transition from one stage to another. These phases are practice development and strategic integration.

Green Schools That Teach: Identifying Attributes of Whole-School Sustainability. Adobe PDF
Barr, Stephanie Kay
(Masters Thesis, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, Summer 2011)
The combination of green school design, green organizational behavior, and aligned educational goals sets the stage for the attributes of green schools to become teaching tools. School facilities, whether functioning well or not, serve as powerful pedagogical instruments. This research study focused on five LEED certified green schools promoting sustainability through building design, operations, and curriculum. Participating schools were LEED certified and offered a formal environmental education program. The purpose of the study was to explore the combination of attributes leading to success in developing a methodology for best practices resulting in a model for whole-school sustainability. Shared sustainable values among stakeholders formed a supportive culture informing decisions about facility design and curriculum and guided the whole-school sustainability process. The physical context of participating schools reinforced successful whole-school sustainability through hands-on learning opportunities for students and physical representation of the entity‘s values. Finally, the alignment of sustainability values within culture, curriculum, and facility operations was found to be critical to the success of whole-school sustainability.[Author's abstract] 139p.

A Room to Learn. Rethinking Classroom Environments.
Faulk, Janet; Evanshen, Pam
(Gryphon House, Inc. , Jun 2011)
Based on the latest research about how children learn, this book helps teachers make their classrooms into creative spaces that facilitate teaching and learning. Geared toward showing teachers how to use the learning environment as a teaching tool, the book begins with research and exploration about designing classrooms for child-centered learning. It then delves into specific areas of classroom design such as use of color and plants, room arrangement, learning centers, and impact of clutter. With “before” and “after” photos of real classrooms, teachers can examine each area and determine their own classroom’s need for improvement. 192p.

Real Solutions for Integrating Sustainability as a Learning Tool. [Prezi presentation format]
Shiver, Steve; Boettcher, Brian
Apr 2011
Presentation by Steve Shiver (NAC|Architecture) and Brian Boettcher (Hargis Engineers) for 2011 School & College Building Expo, Chicago. Shows how to use displays, signage, and lighting as a teaching tool. Shows how integrated design can improve the learning environment and promote energy and resource savings.

Engaging Places: A Resource to Support Teaching and Learning Through Buildings and Places
(CABE and English Heritage , 2011)
British guide to using buildings and places for learning. Includes lesson plans, teaching resources about architecture and design, great places to visit or learn about, organisations, events and inspiring features. There are 130 ideas for using school buildings and grounds.

Green Schools Revolution
(Co-operative Group, 2011)
Written by educational specialists, this is a free, creative, cross-curricular resource and it’s available to all UK Primary and Secondary schools. It helps bring together teachers, parents, pupils and local communities, with projects that encourage creative thinking about the environment. The focus topics are Energy, Water and Healthy Living

Moving the Classroom Outdoors. Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning in Action.
Broda, Herbert W.
(Stenhouse Publishers, 2011)
Designed to provide teachers and administrators with a range of practical suggestions for making the schoolyard a varied and viable learning resource, this presents examples of how urban, suburban, and rural schools have enhanced the school site as a teaching tool. Includes ideas for seating, signage, planting considerations, teaching/meeting areas, outdoor classroom management, pathways, equipment storage, raised gardens, and more. The book also provides an outdoor activity sampler, information on incorporating technology into the outdoor learning experience, and a chapter on the unique concerns of urban schools.

Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation.
Danks, Sharon
(New Village Press , Nov 2010)
Guidebook for designing and building natural schoolyard environments that enhance childhood learning and play experiences while providing connection with the natural world. Intended for parents, teachers, school administrators, designers, environmentalists, and community volunteers. Explores the ways in which landscape design, architecture, child development, and nutrition converge in the schoolyard. Profusely illustrated. 288p.

Green Schools as High Performance Learning Facilities. Adobe PDF
Gordon, Douglas
(National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC , Sep 2010)
Defines a “green” school and its benefits to operational savings, health, pedagogy, and the environment. Planning, design, and operations considerations are detailed, while addressing site selection, water efficiency, energy savings, materials, and indoor environmental quality. The major rating systems LEED, CHPS, and Green Globes are also discussed. Joint use of a school and the use of a green school as a teaching tool are addressed, and 72 references are included. 23p.

Using Construction of Schools Buildings as a Novel Approach to Teach About Sustainability.
Hes, Dominique; Howard, Philippa
(AUBEA 2010 - Proceedings of the 2010 conference of the Australasian Universities Building Education Association, Jul 2010)
Students learn from being involved in the design and construction of their educational buildings. This paper reviews the Smart Green Schools linkage project over 2007 to 2010, looking at how the design and construction of school buildings with the students was used as tools for teaching sustainability. The research, through a case study methodology using observation, interviews and surveys, shows that the teachers and the students involved in the real world physical process of designing and constructing their buildings, led to an increased understanding. [Authors' abstract] 17p.

Diamond Ranch High School. Engages Architecture in the Act of Education.
(Morphopedia, Jun 2010)
Diamond Ranch speaks to students experientially through a physically kinetic architectural language that encourages student inquiry and provokes curiosity. Includes description, photographs, and other details.

Manassas Park Elementary School + Pre-K
(American Institute of Architects, Apr 19, 2010)
Description of the environmental aspects of Manassas Park Elementary School + Pre-K in Manassas Park, Virginia, winner in the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Projects in 2010. Inside and out, sustainable design is integrated with the elementary curriculum. Design decisions were made to showcase as many teachable moments as possible. A comprehensive signage program highlights green building facts, demystifies sustainable building systems, and describes flora and fauna found in the adjacent forest. 1p.

Teaching Activities Using Your School Building.
Thomas, Kim
Engaging Places; Jan 13, 2010
Describes activities such as looking at a school's story, and thinking about the future.

Manassas Park Elementary School.
(The Chesapeake Bay Program, Annapolis, 2010)
This video tour of the new Manassas Park Elementary School details the facility's abundant sustainable features. The lead architect on the project details the rainwater harvesting system, outdoor classroom, geothermal wells, daylighting, low-maintenance flooring, and environmental themes found throughout the building.

School as a Teaching Tool Curriculum Ideas.
(LEEDuser, 2010)
This document is intended to provide teachers with a starting point for the curriculum assembled for LEED for Schools IDc3: The School as a Teaching Tool. [Membership fee required for access.]

Stoddert Elementary School.
(EE&K Architects, 2010)
Description of the modernized and expanded sustainable school in Washington, D.C. that enhances learning and inspires environmental stewardship. An interactive kiosk in the heart of the school enables students to monitor and analyze the building’s use of energy and other resources. This performance data is also available to the interactive whiteboards on classrooms throughout the school.

Understanding Your Current School Building: Teaching Activities.
(Engaging Places, 2010)
Describes teaching activities designed to make the most of the learning opportunities created by the history of a school, building a new school, or refurbishing an existing one. 3p.

GEF School as a Teaching Tool Curriculum Overview. Adobe PDF
Rubin, Sarah
(Green Education Foundation, 2010)
Explores the relationship between a school’s built environment, human ecology and natural ecology. The curriculum is aligned with USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) guidelines for what constitutes a green building, and will award one point towards LEED certification, post-implementation. GEF is the official education sector partner of the USGBC. 1p.

The Impact of 'Green' Initiatives on Student Learning: Non-Financial Reasons for Going 'Green.'
Christopher, Gaylaird
(Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, Harrisburg , May 2009)
Briefly describes the benefits of "green" schools to the educational program and to occupant health. 3p.

Buildings That Teach Sustainability.
(Innovative Design, Raleigh, N.C. , 2009)
Describes how to make schools themselves teaching tools. Includes a checklist that outlines key sustainable elements that should be considered during the design of a school that support an educational mission. Includes case studies of Roy Lee Walker Elementary in McKinney, Texas; Bluffsview Elementary School in Worthington, Ohio; and Spirit Lake Community Schools Spirit Lake, Iowa. 8p.

Garthwaite Center for Science & Art at the Cambridge School of Weston.
(McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, 2009)
Presents a video profile of this private high school building that features a waste wood pellet boiler, composting toilets, and visual access to the systems that enables the building to serve as a teaching tool.

The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching and Learning.
(OWP/P Architects, Chicago, IL , Jan 2009)
Examines the link between how one learns and where one learns. Case studies, interviews, and written contributions are organized under 79 practical topics for how design can be used to transform teaching and learning. The book is a collaborative effort among school architects, school furniture suppliers, and designers. The Third Teacher encourages teachers to develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions of designers and understand that we all create the world in which we live. This book also shows how even the students can become designers of their learning environments. 257p.

Buildings That Teach: IslandWood Green Design and Architecture.
(IslandWoodMedia , 2008)
A portrait of the built environment at IslandWood, an outdoor learning center near Seattle, WA. We meet the architects, the designers, and their "clients:" the children and the land.

Sidwell Friends School (Middle School renovation and addition)
(The Sustainable Sites Initiative, 2008)
Case study of the renovation and addition project at Sidwell Friends School (SFS) campus that transforms the Middle School's fifty-year-old facility into an exterior and interior teaching landscape. Designed to foster an ethic of social and environmental responsibility in each student, the facility demonstrates a responsible relationship between the natural and the built environment. Smart water management was the focus of the project design. A central courtyard with a rain garden, pond, and constructed wetland has been designed to utilize storm and wastewater for both ecological and educational purposes. More than 50 plant species, all native to the Chesapeake Bay region, were introduced in the landscape and there was extensive use of reclaimed stone for steps and walls and concrete containing recycled slag for walkways. Includes details of the site context, sustainable practices, monitoring information, maintenance, and lessons learned.

The Walls Still Speak: The Stories Occupants Tell. Adobe PDF
Uline, Cynthia; Tschannen-Moran, Cynthia; Wolsey, Thomas
(San Diego State University, National Center for the Twenty-First Century Schoolhouse , 2007)
Explores the complicated intricacies of how a school building's physical properties influence teaching and learning. Two high poverty schools, within the upper quartile of facilities quality, were identified from an earlier quantitative study. One school is urban, the other rural. Preliminary results of the research indicate that ongoing interactions between the design of the built environment and the occupants of that environment helped to define the learning climate of these schools. Reciprocally, the climate helped to shape the interactions that took place, fostering environmental understanding, competence and control and supporting academic learning. From the data, several broad themes related to building quality emerged as central to this interaction between the built environment and building occupants, including movement, aesthetics, play of light, flexible and responsive classrooms, and elbow room. 57p.

Green Schools "Create" Learning Tools.
Hill, Franklin
(, Orange, CA , 2005)
Illustrates design for passive seasonal heating, cooling, and daylighting that students can monitor as part of the learning program. 3p.

High Tech Designs Offer Integrated Educational Opportunities for Students.
Hill, Franklin
(, Orange, CA , 2005)
Recommends configuring school HVAC, solar hot water, photovoltaics, and daylighting systems so that they can be integrated into the curriculum. 2p.

Neighborhood Journeys, Making the Ordinary Extraordinary: A Teacher's Guide to Using the Built Environment at Key Stage 2. Adobe PDF
Williamson, Catherine; Hart, Anna
(CABE Education, London, United Kingdom , 2004)
Presents ideas for four school neighborhood journeys with activities that use the local built environment as a context for learning. Each journey has a different destination, addressing historical and topical issues and providing opportunities for exploration of familiar surroundings in a cross-curriculum program. 54p.

Using School Buildings to Teach Environmentally Sustainable Design. Adobe PDF
Gelder, John
(GEN 23, Nov 2003)
Buildings can do more than simply create the environment in which students learn - they can play a significant role in teaching students about the importance of their natural and built environments and how these interact. This highlights this didactic nature of school buildings by exploring ways in which environmentally sustainable building design might be taught in primary and secondary schools. [Author's abstract] 6p.

How Parents and Teachers Are Helping To Create Better Environments for Learning. Energy-Smart Building Choices. Adobe PDF
(Department of Energy, Washington, DC. , Feb 2002)
This brochure shows parents and teachers how smart energy choices reduce school operating costs and create better learning environments. The brochure reveals how schools have turned energy improvements into powerful teaching tools by incorporating energy features into the curriculum. It provides guidelines on ten key elements to consider for designing a high performance school: site design, daylighting and windows, energy-efficient building envelope, renewable energy systems, lighting and electrical systems, mechanical and ventilation systems, environmentally sensitive building products and systems, water conservation, recycling and waste management, and transportation. 7p.
Report NO: DOE-GO-102002-1521

Eco School. Adobe PDF
Poulton, Prue; Symons, Gillian
(World Wide Fund for Nature; Weyside Park, Godalming; Surrey GU7 1XR; United Kingdom , 1999)
The Eco School information pack contains 10 sections outlining specific school areas that can be assessed by students for meeting the needs of all its users, the extent to which they use and abuse environmental resources, and the aesthetic contribution they make to the locality. Using this initial research, the document helps students design a school which is user-friendly, conservation conscious, and aesthetically pleasing. Specific sections examine the following areas: overall school design; the school's entrance, grounds, classrooms, performing arts areas, indoor sports facilities, library, and dining room; waste and recycling; and energy conservation and lift design. Additionally covered are issues common to all school areas, such as access for people with disabilities and energy conservation. 70p.

Educational Landscapes: Developing School Grounds as Learning Places Adobe PDF
Takahashi, Nancy
(University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson Center for Educational Design, Charlottesville, VA , 1999)
In response to today's concern for the environment and growing curricular demands to teach about the natural world, educators are discovering the power of a school's surrounding outdoors area as a teaching tool. This book presents an overview of educational landscapes and examines the pervasive attitudes and practices that have led to the undervaluing of the schoolyard environment, identifies specific steps to create successful educational landscapes, provides insights for integrating the schoolyard more fully into the school culture and pedagogy, and discusses how to sustain educational landscape programs over time. Examples of built educational landscapes from the United States and Britain are provided to illustrate the range of possibilities for school grounds. 63p.

Buildings That Teach. Design and Learning Go Hand in Hand.
Taylor, Anne P.
(George Lucas Educational Foundation, San Rafael, California , Jul 1997)
The art of school design is taking a leap forward into the 21st century, resulting in the creation of multisensory, interactive, functionally well-designed, and aesthetically beautiful learning environments that are radically different from what we now traditionally think of as "schools." The architecture of these facilities is a vibrant interaction of the physical, technical, cultural, and natural environments. The school building itself is carefully designed to stimulate curiosity and serve as an instructional tool. 4p.

Campus Ecology: A Guide to Assessing Environmental Quality and Creating Strategies for Change.
Smith, April
(Living Planet Press, Venice, CA , 1993)
Uses the campus as a laboratory for the study of resource flows and for the implementation of environmentally sound alternatives. Analytical abilities and practical skills students will need to address ecological challenges and solve real problems that are embedded in organizations whose decisions shape our lives and environment are introduced. Sections include: "Wastes and Hazards" including solid waste, hazardous substances, radioactive waste, medical waste, wastewater and storm runoff, pest control, air quality, and the workplace environment; "Resources and Infrastructure" including water, energy, food, procurement policies, transportation, and campus design and growth; "The Business of Education" including research activities, investment policies, business ties, environmental education and literacy, and job placement and environmental careers; and "Taking Action" including creating strategies for change and working for environmental justice. 153p.

References to Journal Articles

Getting Students Involved In Energy Efficiency Can Lead To Big Energy Cost Savings For School Districts
Ben Stanley and Dan LeBlanc
Building Operating Management; Jun 2012
Districts are getting creative and looking for energy savings through occupant engagement initiatives, and, at districts like Douglas County, finding that engaged students are also highly effective facilitators of energy savings.

A Genius Idea
EDC Magazine; May 24, 2012
Description and photos of the outdoor play and learn area at All Saints School in Norwalk, Connecticut that promotes play and an understanding of the physical sciences and energy conservation. The environmental activities within the playground are dovetailing with a school STEM curriculum being taught in the classroom.

Inside Stories
Fickes, Michael
School Planning and Management; , p38-46 ; May 2012
A group of design professionals show how a school's interior design can inspire teaching and learning.

Ravenswood School for Girls / BVN
Ross, Kritiana
Arch Daily; Apr 2012
Description and photos of the Mabel Fidler Building at Ravenswood School for Girls in Alabama. The building aims to bring together both passive and active design solutions to sustainability and allow the initiatives to be utilised in the education program for the girls.

Green Building Initiatives: A Platform for Student Education
Beddow, Bruce
School Planning and Management; , p64-67 ; Apr 2012
Describes building initiatives and solutions that make the Alexandria City Public Schools in Alexandria, Virginia healthier and save money on energy costs. Students also have the opportunity to take the schools' green initiatives and use these practices to learn about the technology behind them.

Green School Grounds: A Collaborative Development and Research Project in Malmö, Sweden
Märit Jansson and Fredrika Mårtensson
Children, Youth and Environments; v22 n1 , p260-269 ; Spring 2012
School ground greening projects may result in a multitude of benefits for pupils, schools and entire communities. This field report describes a project called “Green school grounds” in Malmö, Sweden and an interdisciplinary research project investigating vegetation establishment and management as well as the effects of the project for children. The project consulted researchers and involved teachers and children at the schools during the process of planning and construction. This field report presents the first results from a pretest evaluation of school ground activity at two schools, part of a larger intervention study. [Authors' abstract]

Sustainable Urban Science Center Adobe PDF
Ade, David
High Performing Buildings; , p30-40 ; Winter 2012
Case study of the Sustainable Urban Science Center, a classroom/lab building that is part of a Quaker school in Philadelphia, that is designed with the goal of capturing students’ interest with visible reminders of the building’s sustainable strategies. The building and grounds include photovoltaic panels, prominent cisterns collect rainwater for toilet flushing, and markings on the pavement indicate the ground source heat pump geoexchange field below.

Pre School. At the Watkinson School, a pre-engineered building blends environmental science with ethics.
Sokol, David
Green Source; Jan 2012
Description of the pre-engineered buildings produced by Project Frog for the Watkinson School in Hartford, Connecticut, a venue for secondary level lectures, seminars, and laboratory work dedicated to interdisciplinary science and global studies. The 3,500-square-foot facility is net zero energy.

School Architecture: Numerous Factors at Play
Kopochinski, Lisa
School Construction News; Dec 27, 2011
When it comes to school architecture, there is no one size fits all approach. A variety of design elements are at play — no matter if the facility is an elementary or middle school, high school or college — largely due to the various socioeconomic backgrounds, physical characteristics, learning styles and emotional intelligences that exist within the educational sphere. Discusses interactive design, building as a teaching tool, and how cluster design encourages learning. Includes several case studies.

Atascocita Springs Elementary School Adobe PDF
Nigaglioni,Irene; Yocham, Deborah
Educational Facility Planner; v45 n4 , p41-45 ; Dec 2011
Case study of Atascocita Springs Elementary School in Humble, Texas that achieves CHPS verified and LEED certified criteria. The building is a learning tool, inside and out, and addresses the strengthened educational requirements for the math and sciences curriculum.

STEM for All Adobe PDF
Hutton, Paul and VandenBurg, Todd
Educational Facility Planner; v45 n4 , p19-23 ; Dec 2011
The authors share their insights into the proper role of and implementation for STEM within the K-12 sector. Discusses the following: lab function and layout; sustainable STEM buildings; buildings as sustainable teaching tools; buildings teaching math and science; thoughtful planning of technology.

Indiana University Pushes for Green Living in Residence Halls
American School and University; Nov 10, 2011
Describes a program at Indiana University in Bloomington that enables students to have their residence hall rooms certified as “green.” Program specifies 40 criteria that students can review to determine whether their rooms qualify as green. A room must meet at least 20 of the criteria to be certified as green.

The Sustainability & Innovation Awards. Green Designs in Educational Facilities.
College Planning and Management; , p44-55 ; Nov 2011
Describes the winners of the 2011 awards program for green schools, colleges, and universities, recognizing innovation and best practices. Awards categories are: Building as a Teaching Tool; Energy Efficiency and Conservation; and Site Selection and Development. [See detailed information about each project at Education Design Showcase.]

Environmental Studies. The Kids May Be Out of the Classroom for the Summer, but School Design is Definitely in Session.
Lee, Lydia
The Architects Newspaper; Jul 09, 2011
Studies how public and private schools are investing in ultra high-performance buildings that provide better learning environments and teach by example. Includes numerous examples and photographs.

Opening Windows to Cutting-Edge Education Design.
Environmental Design + Construction; May 26, 2011
Features the Center for Energy Efficient Design (CEED), a Franklin County public middle school located in Rocky Mount, Virginia and designed and built by Structures Design/Build. Unlike any other school in the nation, the school is designed and built according to Passive House (or Passivhaus) standards, the world’s highest standards in energy efficient construction. The CEED serves as a hands-on education facility to teach students and the community about green building technologies.

Green Gem.
Fernback, Katherine
Environmental Design + Construction; May 26, 2011
In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Skyline High School’s focus on conservation and sustainability guides project to LEED silver certification – while providing an ecological education for students.

No More "What Ifs."
Smith, Susan
School Planning and Management; v50 n4 , p58,60,62 ; Apr 2011
Explores many elements that contribute to a "net zero" school that uses no more energy than it produces. Geothermal systems, water harvesting, wind energy, and use of the school as a teaching tool are addressed.

Eastern Mennonite U Dashboard Educates Residents on Energy Use.
Schaffhauser, Dian
Campus Technology; Mar 30, 2011
Describes how Eastern Mennonite University, a small liberal arts Christian college in Virginia, is making an energy usage dashboard available to the campus residents and visitors for its newest residence hall, a LEED-certifiable dorm.

Engineering a Sustainable School.
Beddow, Bruce
Consulting-Specifying Engineer; Mar 08, 2011
Details the design of a school HVAC upgrade that included a geo-solar system. Engineers designed a system that was architecturally integrated, offering students a unique learning tool. The article includes charts that illustrate energy use and the anticipated time for the recovery of the investment is discussed.

Active Learning.
Alfieri, Tony; Kirkham, Scott
American School and University; v83 n7 ; Mar 2011
Discusses using green concepts to inspire learning and create buildings as teaching tools. Gives examples of complementary learning spaces that acknowledges the role of teachers as guides and students as lifelong learners. Examples include the introduction of "student spaces" and "faculty spaces" for learning encounters.

Function Follows Form: Building the Foundations for Student Achievement Employing "School as a Teaching Tool" Protocol, a Place-Based Learning Approach. Adobe PDF
da Silva, Joseph; Alvarado, Manuel
Educational Facility Planner; v45 n3 , p24-28 ; 2011
Reviews principles of using a school building as a teaching tool, including a seven-point protocol for engaging the facility into the curriculum. Includes 24 references.

An Elementary School with a Global Perspective: The Building as a Teaching Tool. Adobe PDF
O'Donnell, Sean; Cuthbert, Marjorie; Cronin, Abbie; Urbieta, Melissa
Educational Facility Planner; v45 n3 , p4-6 ; 2011
Profiles the District of Columbia's Stoddart Elementary School. The renovated facility features a ground source heat pump system, LEED Gold certification, and a curriculum that emphasizes energy and environmental stewardship. The student population is drawn from a variety of nearby embassies and a military base.

Integrating Sustainability as a Learning Tool. Adobe PDF
Shiver, Steven; Dale, John
Educational Facility Planner; v45 n3 , p11-13 ; 2011
Profiles Renton Secondary Learning Center near Seattle, and the Mothers' Club Family Learning Center in Pasadena, California. Both facilities engage the occupants in ongoing environmental stewardship beyond the LEED certification that the buildings received upon completion.

Manassas Park Elementary School and Prekindergarten. Adobe PDF
Knox, Wyck; Davis, Steve
High Performing Buildings; , p36-45 ; Fall 2010
Profiles this exemplary LEED Gold school, providing detail on the construction cost, bioclimatic design, daylighting, energy-efficient envelope, ground-source HVAC system, rainwater collection, and indoor environmental quality, and use of the building as a teaching tool. Extensive photographs, plans, and charts accompany the text.

Grading Green Results.
Morton, Jennie
Buildings; v104 n9 , p60-62,64 ; Sep 2010
Discusses three universities' experience with sustainable design. Despite minor issues, all three institutions are saving energy and are pleased as well with the ability to use the building as a teaching tool.

Wanna Improve Education? Demolish the Classrooms.
Le, Trung
Fast Company Co Design; Aug 2010
Discusses the radically different design of Denmark's Ørestad College. Organized around a central staircase and atrium, the boomerang-shaped floor plates spin and shift like a camera shutter to create four distinct learning zones that flow into one another. The design promotes reflective, collaborative learning that mimics the way teenagers think, learn and socialize.

Case Study: Manassas Park Elementary + Pre-K. Manassas Park, Virginia
Malone, Alanna
GreenSource; Jul 2010
VMDO Architects uses sustainable buildings systems and natural cycles to demonstrate eco-conscious living to the next generation. With outdoor learning spaces, views of the forests, and building systems as “learning tools,” the school teaches environmental stewardship at every opportunity. Each wing of the building has a seasonal theme, and the classrooms are designated with a native species or plant rather than a number. A touch-screen dashboard in the lobby is at child-height so passing students can pause for a moment to click around.

Build a School, Inspire a Community.
Bowen-Eggebraaten, Mary; Hoffman, Paul
School Business Affairs; v76 n4 , p24-26 ; May 2010
Profiles River Crest Elementary School in Hudson, Wisconsin. This "green" school was built at 29% below the average cost for schools in that region, and has formed partnerships with the YMCA camp across the street. The facility serves as a catalyst for sustainable change and has been an educational tool for ecofriendly behavior in the community.

Green Schools: An Opportunity to Teach.
Gutter, Rachel
School Construction News; v16 n4 , p14,15 ; May 2010
Describes need for green facilities to be planned and designed with teachers and administrators, in order to ensure that the components of a green school provide instructional opportunities.

School and More.
Lemire, Nicolas
ASHRAE Journal; v52 n5 , p34-36,38 ; May 2010
Describes construction of Kahnaware Survival School near Montreal. In addition to its function as a school, the building itself serves as a teaching tool, a community gathering place, and a shelter in case of disaster. Since the building is used primarily during cold-weather months, particular attention is given to efficient HVAC.

A Small Footprint.
School Planning and Management; v49 n4 , p58,60,62 ; Apr 2010
Profiles this prototype school that was built on an infill site by virtue of its small footprint and its proximity to public facilities. The site selection, community participation, building design, "green" features, and use of the building as a teaching tool are described.

Thoughtful Design, Excellence in Every Detail.
Learning By Design; n19 , p6,7 ; Spring 2010
Profiles Virginia's Poquoson Elementary School, a grade 3-5 facility that features grade houses named for nearby wetlands, abundant daylighting, and use of the building as a teaching tool. (Scroll down for Poquoson article.)

Mod Genius.
Grayson, Jennifer
T.H.E. Journal; v37 n4 , p28-30, 32-34 ; Apr 2010
Discusses how innovative building manufacturers are designing new modular classrooms that offer a range of eco-friendly features, an inspiring learning environment, and the right price. Examines the idea of the building as a teaching tool. The energy-neutral modular building by Project Frog is outfitted with 60 solar panels that generate enough electricity to power the structure, with perhaps a surplus.

The Green Hire.
Gutter, Rachel
American School Board Journal; v197 n4 , p49-51 ; Apr 2010
Discusses how to use the school facility to teach sustainability. Special emphasis is placed on how to adapt and change behaviors within existing schools, versus those that were built "green" from the outset. Several examples of environmental programs at work within older schools are highlighted.

Redesigning Education: Rethinking the School Corridor.
Le, Trung
Fast Company; Mar 26, 2010
Roughly one-third of the typical school building is used not for learning, growing, or interacting, but for getting to the places where that happens via corridors. Recommends using corridors as spaces for informal learning, to display work, to meet and to reflect. Better yet, get rid of corridors all together and let learning spaces freely flow into each other so that every inch of the school can be used to educate.

Dashboard Displays
School Construction News; Jan 28, 2010
QA Graphics installed its Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard at Chemawa Indian School, the oldest continuously operating boarding school in the United States. Displayed on a 19-inch monitor located in the boiler room, as well as online through a graphical user interface, the dashboard shows water flow, electricity and gas use in real-time with daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly statistics, allowing students and staff to closely monitor consumption.

Phelps High School: Building a School of the Future.
Fanning Howey; 2010
Describes the renovation of the historic Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School in Washington, D.C., a design-build project that is LEED certified. Every inch of Phelps is designed to serve as a teaching tool, including exposed building systems that provide examples of best practices in construction, a variety of masonry techniques in the courtyard, and different floor patterns in the two-story commons.

Learning Modalities and Space. Adobe PDF
Barrett, James
Educational Facility Planner; v44 n2/3 , p10-13 ; 2010
Describes an architectural response to the need for alternative learning modalities. The article addresses the sub-groups that need to accommodated by grade level, subject matter, and instructional needs. The author recommends spaces that enhance the greatest potential for visual learners, maximize spaces and materials that support auditory learners, and anticipate need for flexibility and change over the lifespan of the facility.

'Smart' Spaces Aren't Just for Classrooms Anymore. Adobe PDF
James, Darren L.; Infanzon, Nestor
Educational Facility Planner; v44 n4 , p19-21 ; 2010
Describes the revolution in total school design promulgated in Building Information Modeling (BIM). The article discusses the learning that occurs in every school space, not just the classrooms, and suggests how to plan hallways and even exterior spaces to promote dialogue and other interactions among students and teachers.

Reading, Writing, and Retrofits. [School Retrofits Go Green.]
Daly, James
Edutopia; v5 n6 , p44-46 ; Dec 2009
Profiles existing schools that are seeking to be more environmentally friendly through retrofitting. Illinois' Bloom High School is featured. The prudence of incremental improvements to existing buildings, funding options, and the education benefits of student participation in the upgrade process are cited.

The Very Best of the 2009 Green Education Design Showcase.
School Planning and Management; v48 n11 , p25-36 ; Nov 2009
Profiles six educational facilities that feature innovative "green" building design features. The buildings were judged according to their use of the building as a teaching tool, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and site selection.

Taking It to the Next Level.
McCabe, Todd
American School and Hospital Facility; v32 n5 , p18-20 ; Sep-Oct 2009
Discusses recent green roof installations at schools, describing their benefits to rainwater retention, reduced energy costs, and use as a teaching tool. Advice on planning and installing a green roof is included.

Sustainability Dashboards Provide Roadmap to Success.
Simpson, Jim
Facilities Manager; v25 n5 , p42,43 ; Sep-Oct 2009
Describes "sustainability dashboards" that display and interpret data from various building systems, facilitating observation of energy and water use, as well as systems conditions. Advice on selecting a dashboard program is included.

School as a Teaching Tool: Hawkins Elementary School in Toledo, Ohio.
American School and University; Jun 2009
Describes learning opportunities from new school's environmentally friendly practices and alternative energy systems.

A Design That Teaches Others.
Theimer, James
DesignShare; May 17, 2009
Advocates creating school buildings that teach environmental stewardship, emphasizing retention of trees, recycling, and school gardens.

Restorative School Landscaping.
Rinck, Robert
School Planning and Management; v48 n5 , p20,22,24,25 ; May 2009
Describes how to restore a school landscape through consultation with a design professional, collection of data on existing conditions and vegetation, analysis of traffic patterns, and use of space. Replacement of expansive traditional lawns with "no-mow" lawns and low maintenance plantings, use of materials that look best during the school year, and using the landscape as a teaching tool are among the recommendations.

New Reasons to Hope. [A New Green Generation.]
Gutter, Rachel
American School Board Journal; v196 n4 , p46,48 ; Apr 2009
Reviews efforts to create "sustainability natives" among the digital native students currently enrolled. High performance buildings that also serve as a learning tool are emphasized.

Going Green by Thinking Blue.
Womack, Jack
School Planning and Management; v48 n4 , p38,40-42,44 ; Apr 2009
Discusses the use of rainwater as a teaching tool, by creating rain gardens bioswales, permeable pavers, and green roofs at school facilities. Explanations of these four features and advice on how to create them are offered, along with advantages of retaining rainwater onsite and use of native plant species.

Open-Ended Learning.
Makovsky, Paul; Pederson, Martin; Cameron, Kristi; Greenberg, Randi
Metropolis; , p71-82 ; Feb 2009
Profiles eight K-12 school projects submitted by design firms as demonstrating an innovative approach, application, or idea. These facilities include wind turbines, green roofs, and buildings that serve as teaching tools.

Designs on Sustainability and Learning.
Mason, Craig
Learning By Design; n18 , p170 ; 2009
Uses DuPont, Washington's Pioneer Middle School as an example of a sustainable facility that figures prominently in the curriculum. Electronic displays within the building illustrate energy consumption and energy savings, outdoor gardens host experiments in food and herb cultivation, and an extensive recycling program includes composting of cafeteria food.

The Building as the Teacher. Adobe PDF
Mason, Craig
Educational Facility Planner; v43 n4 , p31,32,34-36 ; 2009
Profiles Pioneer Middle School in DuPont, Washington. Through collaboration with administration and teachers, the building became a learning tool stressing environmental stewardship. Signage explaining how design reduces the building’s environmental impact, touchscreens that illustrate the buildings utilities usage, and outdoor learning areas are described.

Predock's Architecture School.
Smith, Susan
Architecture Week; , pD1.1 ; Dec 10, 2008
Profiles architect Antoine Predock's new facility for the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico, emphasizing its abundant transparency, use as a learning tool, and sustainbility features.

2008 Green Design Awards.
School Planning and Management; v47 n11 , pG1-G32 ; Nov 2008
Presents a panel of judges selections of 26 exemplary K-12 and higher education buildings, in the categories of Building as a Teaching Tool; Energy Efficiency and Conservation; Visual, Acoustical, Thermal and Air Quality Indoor Environment; Materials; Site Selection and Development; and Water Conservation. Photographs, building statistics, green principles followed, and a description accompany each project.

Eco-Friendly Campuses as Teaching Tools. Adobe PDF
Erwin, Stephen J.; Kearns, Thomas D.
New England Journal of Higher Education; v23 n2 , p31-32 ; Fall 2008
Sustainable design projects offer academic communities the opportunity to make the design and operations of their campuses part of the larger lessons of social and environmental responsibility that are integral parts of higher education.

Teaching Green. (Green Schools Teach Green Lessons.)
Woodside, Daniel
American School Board Journal; v195 n10 , p26,27 ; Oct 2008
Discusses how school building features are being used to teach sustainability within the curriculum. Examples include photovoltaic systems, collection and re-use of stormwater, retention ponds designed to create a wetland, onsite biological treatment of wastewater, and recycling and composting programs.

Sustainable Education Campus in Spain: Nature and Architecture for Training. Adobe PDF
Campos, Pablo
PEB Exchange; 2008/10 ; Jul 2008
Profiles a Spanish campus for education in sustainability, with campus design and landscaping as participants in the educational program.

Building as Teaching Tool.
Novitski, B.
Architectural Record; , p90-93 ; Jan 2008
Profiles Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, Colorado. The 1,800-student school is divided into three semi-autonomous institutions of 600 students each, and architectural energy-saving features are incorporated into the curriculum. A list of project participants, photographs, and plans are included

Higher Education Construction. Building Hallowed Halls for Future Generations.
Southwest Contractor; Aug 2007
Projects at colleges and universities provide designers and builders with an opportunity to produce quality buildings with an eye towards cutting-edge design concepts and sustainability. Modern higher education buildings tend to combine multiple purposes, use building materials in interesting ways and blur the boundaries between the interior and exterior spaces. The structures themselves often act as teaching tools, allowing students to learn about green building practices or construction techniques. This provides extensive case studies of projects that reflect many of these traits: the University of Nevada Reno's Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center and Joe Crowley Student Union; Arizona State University's Polytechnic Campus; and University of New Mexico's School of Architecture.

Teaching Tools.
Chen, Aric
Metropolis; Jul 25, 2007
The Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. is one of a string of educational buildings designed by Kieran Timberlake that merge instruction, sustainability, and behavior modification. Outside, a water-filtration tank attached to the wetlands doubles as an information kiosk that explains the ecological processes at work, joining other explanatory wall texts inside. Mechanical controls, placed in prominent locations, are highlighted rather than hidden, just as monitors throughout the building give students real-time updates of the building’s environmental systems.

The School Building as Futuristic Teaching Tool.
Century 21 Schools; , p68-77 ; Fall 2005
Profiles in detail the Kingsmead School in Northwitch, Great Britain. This high performance primary school features movable walls, winter gardens, enhanced technology, photovoltaics, a biomass boiler, solar hot water, rainwater harvesting, and several other notable features. The considerably higher than average construction cost is believed justified by operational savings and the use of the building itself as a teaching tool.

Creating 21st Century Learning Environments. Adobe PDF
Li, Phan; Locke, John; Nair, Prakash; Bunting, Andrew
PEB Exchange; v2005/2 n55 , p15-26 ; Jun 2005
Presents four opinions on developing schools for the 21st century. A Singapore management professional explains how the school building can serve as a three-dimensional learning tool. A New Zealand school principal describes how his recently-built school was designed. An American building planner presents what he considers the essential components for developing effective facilities for tomorrow. An Australian architect defines the common purposes of secondary schooling and their relation to design.

Buildings that Teach.
Cunningham, Cody
American School and University; v74 n12 , p164-67 ; Aug 2002
Discusses how incorporating the environment into school design can enhance the learning process. Describes characteristics of this sustainable design style, the energy efficiency and educational benefits, and how to overcome resistance. Includes a sidebar on high-performance design at Roy Lee Walker Elementary School in McKinney, Texas.

Elements of Green.
Turckes, Steven; Engelbrecht, Kathie
School Planning and Management; v41 n8 , p20,22 ; Aug 2002
Discusses incorporating green design into school construction, asserting that schools can improve their impact on the environment and reduce their operating costs while educating people about the value of sustainable design. Addresses energy reduction (including daylighting), site design for low environmental impact, flexible design, indoor air quality, and buildings as teaching tools.

Assignment: Eco-Friendly Campuses.
Calkins, Meg
Landsape Architecture; v92 n7 , p38,40,42,43,90,91 ; Jul 2002
Discusses how institutions of higher education can use their campus environments as a teaching tool and laboratory for finding solutions to environmental dilemmas and ensure that their campus operations, including the landscape, are exemplary models of environmental practice--even if it means far fewer expanses of lawn. Includes a list of resources.

Campus Buildings that Teach Lessons.
Fickes, Michael
College Planning and Management; v5 n3 , p14-18 ; Mar 2002
Describes how Brown University has begun looking at building design and performance as a shadow curriculum that supports or argues with the principles being taught in a building's classroom. Discusses the energy-efficient design and construction of W. Duncan MacMillan Hall, a building serving the geology, chemistry, and environmental sciences programs.

The Link Between Buildings and Learning
Iowa Association of School Boards Compass; v7, n1 ; Winter 2002
A school building is an important tool to support learning. Experts agree that school facilities should be designed to facilitate what we know today about providing the best possible education for all students. IASB interviewed a number of experienced school architects and reviewed several articles to learn more about trends affecting school building design. This article summarizes what was found.

Buildings that Teach.
Keep, Gary D.
Educational Facility Planner; v37 n2 , p18-22 ; 2002
Discusses Roy Lee Walker Elementary School In McKinney, Texas as an example of a high performance, or "green," school. The school blends the physical environment with the student learning process while protecting the site.

Bringing Art into the Design of an Arts Magnet School.
Davey, Margaret
School Planning and Management; v40 n11 , p56-57 ; Nov 2001
Shows design features of the K-8 Arts Magnet School in New Haven, Connecticut, that allow the facility to be used as a learning tool. Also explores ways to bring artistic energy into the building design through collaboration with local artists.

Teaching Environmentally Sustainable Design in Schools. Adobe PDF
Gelder, John
PEB Exchange; n35 , p14-16 ; Oct 1998
Explores three ways students are taught environmentally- sustainable design within an eco-school system: the passive example of the present school premises; the use of architects-in- schools schemes; and student environmental assessments of the school premises. Examples are provided of how each method addresses sustainable design and how they may be combined to do so.

This School Building Will Also Be a Teacher.
DeTore, Keri
Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce; , 2p. ; Aug 20, 1998
Describes the learning opportunities from a new school building in the Bellingham, Washington school district.

Buildings That Teach.
Wiebenson, John
Educational Leadership; v55 n7 , p61-64 ; Apr 1998
Teachers can use "built teaching aids" or elements of the school building itself to expand teaching and enhance learning. Possibilities include bulletin boards, display cases, murals painted by local artists, permanent information panels, interior windows to classrooms, flags, and bas-reliefs on building exteriors. Playground pavement can become a gigantic marker board that supports both play and education.

The Learning Environment as a Three-Dimensional Textbook.
Taylor, Anne
Children's Environments; v10 n2 , p104-117 ; Dec 1993
Describes how learning environments can be more educationally and optimally useful if the architecture of the built, natural, and cultural environments are used as teaching tools. Discusses how structures and the surrounding landscape can be used to teach physics, geometry, and other disciplines, enabling students to learn how to evaluate the environment. Includes ten references.

How Schools Are Redesigning Their Space.
Taylor, Anne
Educational Leadership; v51 n1 , p36-41 ; Sep 1993
Discusses new visions of learning and how educators and architects are creating "three-dimensional textbooks" that use the learning environment as a teaching tool. Suggests that there is a current revolution in education that requires the design of schools to be rethought. Examines the planning process known as architectural programming, wherein the community and those who will occupy a building are consulted in order to determine developmental needs, aesthetic preferences, and desired climate. Explores the challenge of translating goals that are established for the learners into an architecture that is a true learning environment.



Due to lack of funding, the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities is currently available only as an archived site. As of September 1, 2012 no new content will be added or updates made. We regret the need to take such steps, but should funding become available, we look forward to reinvigorating NCEF and providing this valuable resource to the educational facilities community.

If you have questions or are an organization or company wishing to support the continued operation of this industry recognized resource please contact Institute President Henry Green (, 202-289-7800).