Energy Solutions for Charter Schools: The Effects of the Built Environment on Classroom Behavior
When it comes down to it, charter schools are businesses and the bottom-line counts, but providing the best possible learning environments for students is a top priority for charter school leaders. Implementing smart energy solutions for charter schools is a way to combine these goals with positive, research-backed results that show great benefit to both a school’s bottom line and the productivity and comfort of their staff and students.
In fact, amazing results in productivity studies across the country, including those from the WELL Building Standard, are sparking more investment in optimized work and learning environments. Using integrated “Smart” Ceilings, LED light fixtures and building controls, today’s buildings are smarter than ever, and research is showing a correlation between smart buildings and increased productivity of the people the space.
So, what does a Smart Classroom look like?
As the students come in from recess, the HVAC has already begun providing cool supply air for the programmed 1:30 class to begin comfortably. The teacher, behind her desk, switches to a new lighting scene before the students arrive…
The fixtures over the students dim down 75% (saving energy) and change to a cool pale yellow. The fixtures over the teacher’s head and whiteboard are the same color temperature, but at full brightness. The dimmer, yet adequate light fixtures over the students help calm their nerves after 30 minutes of play outside on the basketball courts and playground. The teacher wants them relaxed, but focused on the front of the room, where she is going to show them how the new solar array on the roof is generating clean power for the light fixtures, computers and air conditioning in their classroom.
The South facing windows used to be a nuisance this time of day, making the students in the back of the class especially hot from the California sun. The new solar window film now blocks 85% of the heat from coming in, but still has a bright beautiful view of the school’s entry vestibule. Blocking the heat creates improved comfort, and gives the HVAC system a break, saving a lot of energy especially in the afternoon hours. The film also provides the added benefit of safety and security, as it is both bullet and shatter resistant.
The teacher goes on with her presentation confident, and with a smile. Her classroom, which she felt used to hinder the performance of her students, has been transformed to an optimized, smart environment where students can learn effectively.
What do the studies show?
A study in England suggests that the built design of a classroom can impact a student’s academic performance by as much as 25% (up or down) in early years classrooms. According to research from The Nightingale Association and The University of Salford Manchester, “Environmental factors studied affected 73% of the changes in student scores… students were assessed at the beginning and end of the year for academic performance in math, reading and writing, and classrooms were rated on environmental qualities like classrooms orientation, natural light, light quality, acoustics, temperature and air quality.”
The CBRE Global Headquarters adopted the WELL Building standard, and 83% of employees reported feeling more productive, 92% said they felt the new environment created a positive effect on their health and well-being and 94% said their new office had a positive impact on their business performance.
We believe the same results are possible in classrooms across the world and we are so excited to help make that dream a reality. We’ve created Charter School Energy Powered by BioStar Renewables to help do just that. By providing smart energy solutions for charter schools, we’re allowing charter schools to access energy efficient and renewable energy solutions for their buildings—improving the learning environment for their staff and students while reducing utility and maintenance expenses.
About the Author: David Smart is the President and COO, Energy Reduction at BioStar Renewables. David has multiple years of experience developing energy efficiency projects with a focus in LED lighting. As VP of Sales for BioStar, his experience includes negotiating purchasing agreements, sales and development, project management and utility consulting.