WASHINGTON — The U.S. Green Building Council is scheduled in March to launch its LEED for schools rating system, which was created specifically for design and construction of K-12 schools.
Based on the LEED for new construction category, the LEED for schools system will update key areas that have the greatest effect on children in the learning environment.
Under the system, school planners will be awarded LEED points for designing classrooms with acoustics tailored to match the needs of students. A more stringent mold prevention requirement has also been established to protect children who could be more susceptible to health problems.
“It is basically a credit where the council will ask building planners to do a number of things to decrease their chances of having mold growth over the course of the building’s lifespan,” says Lindsay Baker, schools program coordinator for USGBC.
The threshold for low-emitting materials will also be raised under the guidelines, which could affect what paints, coatings, floor materials, adhesives and other products are used at educational facilities.
Other revised areas include brownfield remediation, alternative transportation, noise pollution, water use and daylighting.
A point will also be issued to schools that commit to incorporating sustainable design aspects from their building into the curriculum.
“It’s a credit that will be awarded to schools that make a commitment to integrate sustainability concepts and the built environment into their curriculum,” Baker says. “It is designed to encourage teachers and the school administration to use the lessons that the building is teaching actively, and to engage the students to learn how the environment works.”
Although the changes will force school designers to make some modifications during the planning process, Baker says the LEED revisions have generally been accepted among school architects.
“For the most part they are very excited about using this system and they think it is going to be a great addition to the LEED family,” Baker says. “A lot of the credits that we have added have been basically to award things that they are currently doing. On the other hand, there is a little bit of increased stringency that architects and designers are going to need to adapt to.”