Three Designs That Should Be Incorporated Into Your Community's New School
When your community begins building new educational facilities, it's a balance between budget and practical, long-lasting facilities that will foster learning and opportunities for kids. One you have okayed the project, it's important to meet with the general contractors overseeing the institution in order to make sure that designs will indeed be both budget and learning friendly. Some must-haves that you should ask the contracting company to work into the project plan include:
1. Natural light in every room.
Because windows are the primary source of heat loss in building, many school district cut utility costs by reducing the size and amount of windows in schools. However, this type of budget control may actually come back to bite you in the end. Research shows that the presence of natural light in learning environments makes students:
- more alert. One study showed that people who worked in artificial light became progressively more tired as the day wore on. Those with sunlight, however, we able stay focused longer.
- less stressed. Too much exposure to artificial light can lead to the unbalanced levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Natural light balances the mood more effectively.
- sleep better at night. Exposure to natural light is essential for preserving the body's natural circadian rhythm. Students spend six or seven hours indoors, during prime daylight hours. Without natural light, the production melatonin is altered, reducing sleep effectiveness and leading to students who are less prepared to learn due to perpetual exhaustion.
Your building designers and contractors should work to make natural light the focus of learning areas, including the library and classrooms. If windows are too distracting to students, have the light come from above by designing the building to have large skylights.
2. A low-maintenance, easy to access HVAC system.
Nothing is more disrupting that having the temperature in the classroom be perpetually too hot or too cold. If possible, make sure that teachers are able to control the classroom temperature with individual thermostats, in order to make students as comfortable as possible. Learning is disrupted when students become distracted by being too hot or too cold.
Furthermore, have your contractor pay close attention to the positioning of air vents in the classroom. Having them directly overhead can cause drafts, distracting both teacher and student. It is best to position vents in a place where they are less likely to blow on a single individual. Having them closer to floor makes it easier for maintenance personnel to do regular vent cleaning without having to stand on a ladder.
3. Wiring for future electrical upgrades.
When investing money into a new school, it's best to stretch tax dollars as far as possible. The simplest way to do this is to make sure that the school is prepared for changes in technology. The school systems are rapidly moving to online resources and e-learning techniques. Updating a school to support the electrical demand of laptops, tablets, smart boards and other equipment can be expensive and time consuming. In order to alleviate the need to redo electrical work in the future, make sure that each classroom has more than enough outlets and wire boxes. This way, if new technology needs to be installed at a future date, there won't be any issues with power supply. Installing additional electrical right from the start, even though it costs more up front, is easier than having to go back and make upgrades in the future.
Talk to your general contractor about design ideas that will help to improve the function of a new school in your area. It's important to design with the budget in mind, but it is also important that the focus of the designs is on creating the best environment for students to learn.