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NSW government architect produces environmental design guide for schools

The Government Architect of NSW (GANSW) and the NSW Department of Education have collaborated on a manual to guide the sustainable environmental design of schools.

The manual, which can be found here, argues that environmentally sensitive school design can boost educational outcomes in addition to reducing the environmental impact of school buildings. It says that factors such as air quality, ventilation, natural lighting, thermal comfort, and acoustic performance “have been shown to have a profound impact on teacher wellbeing and student attentiveness, attendance, and overall performance.”

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The manual leans on passive design as the main organizing idea in achieving these results, and is targeted at school principals, teachers and students interested in affecting change on their own campuses rather than designers or architects themselves.

It outlines the fundamentals of passive design, and notes the importance of insulation, natural light, natural shading devices, cross-ventilation and external shading.

The manual also provides some simple changes that can be made to a school’s external and internal spaces that can boost environmental outcomes.

“Introducing some simple environmental design strategies can help you to improve school rooms, buildings, and grounds,” says the manual. “In many cases these strategies can make a big impact at a relatively low cost. These improvements can make schools feel better and work better, and can encourage students to take an active role in caring for the environment.”

Some of these strategies include opening windows on both sides of a room to facilitate cross-flow ventilation, bringing plants into classrooms, exposing building services to increase student awareness of how resources are used within the building and a guide on how to use air conditioning effectively.

The document is a companion to GANSW’s Design Guide for Schools. For more information, go here.

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