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Sustainable School Design : P2 Opportunities
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
P2 Opportunities
Alternative Technologies
Case Studies
Glossary of Terms
Key Contacts
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Alliance to Save Energy: Saving Energy in Schools
This portion of the Alliance to Save Energy web site includes best practices for controlling energy ...

The Campus Environmental Resource Center--CampusERC--is intended to be a great library of resources ...

CHPS Best Practices Manual
CHPS has developed and maintains a six-volume technical best practices manual for high performance s...

Environmental Design + Construction (ED+C)
Bi-monthly magazine covering the green building industry.

GLRPPR Educational Institutions Sector Resource
This Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) Sector Resource provides a compil...

Green Schools Project: Using Energy Efficiency to Strengthen Schools
The Green Schools program helps schools use energy efficiently through building retrofits, changes i...

Greening Schools
Greening Schools is a joint project of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the I...

Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEAT)
EPA has developed a unique software tool to help school districts evaluate and manage their school f...

High Performance Schools
US EPA's Indoor Air Quality Design Tools for Schools defines High Performance Schools, explains the ...

High-Performance School Buildings Resource and Strategy Guide: Beyond Green
This nationally vetted and easy-to-read guidebook describes the characteristics and benefits of high...

Integrated Design Process for Schools
Overall guidance, checklist, and key terms for using the integrated design process to achieve a high...

Midwest Buildings Technology Application Center (MBTAC)
This web site is a project of the Energy Center of Wisconsin and the University of Illinois at Chica...

National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF)
Created in 1997 by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Clearinghouse for Educational Faci...

NY-CHPS High Performance Schools Guidelines
The State Education Department (SED) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authorit...

Smart Energy Design Assistance Center
The Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) is designed to encourage for-profit small business...

The High Performance School Design Charrette
How-to-guide on organizing and running a design charrette. Helps define what it is, when it should o...

U.S. EPA Healthy School Environments Portal
The Healthy School Environments Web pages are intended to serve as a gateway to on-line resources to...

U.S. EPA School Chemical Cleanout Campaign (SC3)
The Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign (SC3) aims to ensure that all schools are free from hazards a...

UIUC LibGuide: Green/Sustainable Building
This reference guide includes links to both popular materials and more technical information. It is ...

USGBC Build Green Schools
Launched on October 16, 2007 by the U.S. Green Building Council, this site is filled with profiles o...

<big><b>Sustainable School Design: Pollution Prevention Opportunities </b></big>

This section identifies stewardship strategies that reduce pollution for both new and established schools.

Pollution Prevention

According to the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR), "Pollution is the contamination of air, soil, or water by the discharge of harmful substances. Pollution prevention is the reduction or elimination of pollution at the source (source reduction) instead of at the end-of-the-pipe or stack. Pollution prevention occurs when raw materials, water, energy and other resources are utilized more efficiently, when less harmful substances are substituted for hazardous ones, and when toxic substances are eliminated from the production process. By reducing the use and production of hazardous substances, and by operating more efficiently, we protect human health, strengthen our economic well-being, and preserve the environment.

Source reduction allows for the greatest and quickest improvements in environmental protection by avoiding the generation of waste and harmful emissions. Source reduction makes the regulatory system more efficient by reducing the need for end-of-pipe environmental control by government. "

Sustainable school design is a complex process that involves knowledge of many topics. To initiate a sustainable design for a new school or a retrofit of an existing school (contemporary or historic), the lead designers and planners must be familiar with the goals of sustainability. This is a relatively new area, therefore, school administrators and community members involved in the planning who are unfamiliar with sustainability need to develop skills that allow them to actively participate in the planning process.

There are many opportunities for pollution prevention when designing sustainable schools. Pollution can be prevented at various steps throughout the entire lifecycle of the building's components and in the implementation of HVAC, purchasing, landscaping, operations, and transportation (every aspect of the daily operation of a school). It can seem intimidating, which is why it's valuable to work with an experienced design team. Long-term results can amount to sizable economic savings and improved environmental health and learning conditions within the school.

Planning for P2 and Sustainable Design
Community and school members of the planning team should:

  1. Adopt a mission and commitment to sustainability design elements.
  2. Define product life-cycle analysis and product stewardship opportunities.
  3. Brainstorm to identify each area of the existing or future school that might have opportunities for long-term savings and pollution prevention.
  4. Develop a vision of the school in 30 years.
  5. Research economic, social and environmental concerns.
  6. Assign areas of concern to research, using life-cycle analysis strategies, for the purpose of raising the group's awareness of sustainability. Share the results of the research.
  7. Interview potential design firms (now that the group understands some of the complex interactions and connections).

It is important to find as many resources as possible within the community to support the process. These resources include expertise, funding, information, and labor. Depending upon where you live these can come from a variety of sources that include local, state, and federal government. Large industries have been discovering the value of sustainable design and may have staff (and also parents of students in your schools) to help guide your process. Universities, non-governmental organizations, and not-for-profit groups may also be beneficial. Pollution prevention teams within state government or at universities will prove extremely valuable. More resources are available in the "Where to Go For Help" section of this topic hub.

Pollution Prevention (P2) Options
Sustainability efforts present important opportunities for pollution prevention, especially for state government. Involving P2 representatives provides them with opportunities to help educate broader segments of the public about the benefits of P2 through both the planning process and through the modeling process of the completed school. P2 provides a framework from which sustainability can grow.

What is the vision of the school in 100 years? How much waste has been generated? How much energy has been consumed? How many dollars have been saved and converted into education budgets from operations? The following table illustrates only a few examples of potential pollution areas and P2 options.

AreaStewardship Issue Possible Actions
Construction MaterialsHigh transportation costs for non-local materials and excessive construction wasteMaterial efficiency can save money as well as reduce the environmental footprint and energy costs. Consider buying local materials and using structural features salvaged before demolition of the existing school. This reduces wasteful transportation costs and eliminates waste created in construction.
KitchenUse of non-recyclable materials for food serviceAn obvious area in which to prevent pollution in the kitchen is to eliminate the use of styrofoam food trays and food service. Schools have used this as a way to reduce staff costs. Replace disposable trays and service with reusable products and investigate installation of high-efficiency dishwashers that use low-flow restrictions and integrate energy-efficient designs.
Locker Rooms Molds, viruses, and bacteria/airborne allergensImprove air circulation and clean surfaces with soap and water. Install energy efficient electric hand dryers.
Parking Lot Pollutant runoffs from parking lots to local watershedEncourage riding bicycles or public transportation rather than students driving or parents driving to and from school. Provide bike parking and public transportation discounts. Offer incentives as well as access to lockers and showers for bike riders. These steps help eliminate pollution associated with transportation. Other steps that capture pollutants feature parking lot design strategies such as permeable pavers and rain gardens.

Opportunities for Pollution Prevention are multidisciplinary. They exist in Integrated Pest Management, chemical management (green chemistry and art education), and energy efficiency. As you prepare to learn more about Pollution Prevention in sustainable school design visit the resources provided at the right and at the bottom of the list on the right-hand side of this page. Also visit other topic hubs to develop a holistic approach to sustainable school design.


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Sustainable School Design Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 8/2/2012