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    Sustainable Site Selection for Schools

    by Lisa Gelfand with Eric Corey Freed

    In the case of a new school, the first job for the working group is selecting a site. All the decisions that go into making a sustainable campus or building follow. Location defines the impacts of development both to the site itself and to surrounding neighborhoods, transportation, habitat, and hydrology.

    The location of a school is an emotionally charged issue. School boards will hear from parents, neighbors, and real-estate interests. Families buy houses based on the attendance boundaries for public schools. Many of these issues overlap with sustainability concerns.

    Transportation impacts, habitats, and water must all be seen in the framework of the concern parents have for children's safety, the concerns neighbors have for traffic congestion, and the concern school staff and parents have for easily maintained, tidy school grounds.

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    Schools produce noise when active children are outside playing. Schools are also places where the most vulnerable population is concentrated — should they be next to highways, factories, pipelines, or high-voltage lines?

    Schools may not be the functions best located on a brownfield or other seriously degraded site unless the team is ready to prove that an extraordinary level of thoroughness has been applied to removing potential dangers.

    A school site choice must meet a commonsense test: Is this the right place for children to spend their day?   >>>

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    This article is excerpted from Sustainable School Architecture by Lisa Gelfand with Eric Corey Freed, copyright © 2010, with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons.

     

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    Tall, angled columns mark the edge of a portico that runs along the southwest facade of the Seabird Island School in Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada, designed by Patkau Architects.
    Photo: Patkau Architects/ James Dow Extra Large Image

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    The Druk White Lotus School, in the Ladakh region of India, centers on a courtyard.
    Photo: Christian Richters Extra Large Image

     

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