Our team of architects and designers handles a wide range of projects, including work on new construction, historic buildings, alterations and renovations, and site analysis and feasibility studies. And, we enjoy every new challenge we take on. But one area that is especially gratifying is designing school buildings and additions that meet the highest environmental health standards.
We have been fortunate to collaborate with a number school boards and executives on many successful building initiatives. Nothing is more exciting than our first meeting with a school’s project coordinators, when they share their vision for the new facility or addition and our team begins to conceptualize a space that maximizes environmental health and safety while also being optimized for exceptional learning experiences.
Healthy Buildings, Healthy Children, Healthy Earth
One organization we worked with recently is Slate School in North Haven, CT. It was clear from the start that this was a partnership that was meant to be. The school’s focus on healthy learning environments was completely in synch with ours. As they note on the Environment page on their website, “Our approach to sustainability is based on the idea that healthy buildings, healthy children, and a healthy earth are all interdependent.”
We couldn’t agree more. In every project we work on (in education settings and elsewhere), we take into account factors that can easily be overlooked in the rush to get a facility designed and built, including:
- Natural daylighting in occupied spaces
- Selection of construction and finish materials with no off-gassing of formaldehyde or VOCs
- High-efficiency mechanical systems that provide clean, filtered fresh air while avoiding drafts and hot/cold spots
- Access to filtered and purified drinking water
- Easy access to the great outdoors
A number of our recent school design projects incorporate examples of those features, including:
Friends Center for Children — This facility shares property in Fair Haven with the Quaker Meeting House. The new construction project includes daylighting, natural materials with no off-gassing, high-efficiency mechanical systems, and access to nature from every classroom.
Greenwich Academy — An independent, college preparatory day school for girls located on a 39-acre campus in central Greenwich, CT, its new Pre-Connecting building has daylighting and access to nature in classrooms.
Slate School — This independent elementary school in North Haven is situated on a 25-acre parcel featuring forest, open meadow lands and organic gardens. The new construction project incorporates circadian lighting, a high-performance building envelope with large amounts of glass for daylighting, Red List-free materials, and access to nature from every classroom.
These projects and many others we’ve completed reflect our belief that environmental health, building functionality, and cost-effectiveness can all come together in one facility through thoughtful design.
An Environmental Health Resource for Our Clients
We work with very well-informed building owners and stakeholders. However, they have schools to operate and businesses to run. Consequently, many of them don’t have the time to keep up with ongoing advances in indoor environmental health.
Fortunately, we do. Our team uses an array of resources to stay on top of the evolution of design and building practices. This includes organizations and programs such as:
Environmental Health Awareness is Here to Stay
As the environmental health of childcare and education spaces has become a key consideration for building owners and operators in recent years, there have been detractors who say these concerns are a fad that will pass. Fortunately, the push for healthier buildings has a solid foundation built and supported by the parents and school administrators who will accept only the best for their children.
Whenever we have the opportunity to do so, we’re thrilled to contribute our insights on designs that make the wellbeing of kids and teachers the top priority in a building initiative.
If you have questions about our focus on environmental health or want to learn about our services in general, please get in touch at your convenience.
Are you looking to make your next project “green,” but don’t know where to start?
Download our free Green Building Standards Comparison and get an at-a-glance view of the various standards for environmentally responsible design and construction.