Green School Characteristics, Sustainability, and Student Learning

Green School Characteristics, Sustainability, and Student Learning

C. Kenneth Tanner (University of Georgia, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6312-1.ch003


An exploration of learning environments within and around green schools provides the basis for this chapter. One of its most important goals is to encourage research on where students learn and the quantity of information that students learn, with parallel emphasis on sustainability, school design, and green schools. A general theme is to encourage the study of green schools within the broader context of the total physical environment, while viewing learning experiences and achievement of students through social, economic, efficacy, and sustainability perspectives. Several sustainable design perspectives are included in this chapter, and findings in five areas of school design research are associated with selected green school concepts. As a rather unique component akin to the affective dimension of explaining research findings, acknowledgement of the biophilia hypothesis is suggested as an alternative pathway to view context and enhance depth in research methods, procedures, and interpretation.
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Green Schools And Learning Environments

What makes a school green? The Center for Green Schools has identified selected characteristics that identify a typical green school. Out of the 13 characteristics of a green school as defined by the CGS, the School Design and Planning Laboratory (SDPL), as of the development of this chapter, has gathered evidence on and conducted studies of five closely related areas (Center for Green Schools, 2013). They are as follows:

  • Improved indoor air quality (1)

  • Employs day lighting strategies (2) and improves classroom acoustics (3)

  • Promotes habitat protection (outdoor learning environments) (4)

  • Improved thermal comfort (5)

Note that two areas (items 2 and 3 above) are combined in the CGS’s original 13 characteristics. In this chapter the assumptions are made that outdoor learning environments overlap to a definite degree with habitat protection, and that thermal comfort, when viewed according to standards of conservation regarding insulated spaces, may also be a result or side effect of decreased energy consumption. Assuming that green schools may influence overall student outcomes, a research agenda might be established for the remaining eight areas currently defined by the CGS.

Do green schools enhance learning? The answer is perhaps, maybe, and sometimes yes, given the research that has been completed by the author since 1997! A school having all 13 characteristics defined by the CGS might not necessarily include appropriate architectural design characteristics that would influence student outcomes positively. Therefore, a school can be as green as a gecko and also be a poor place to teach and learn because of poor architectural design.

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