To view any of the architect's responses, please click on a firm below. You can also page through all the responses.

EwingCole
Patrick Brunner, AIA, Principal and Charles Rudalavage, AIA, Principal

ATS&R Planners/Architects/Engineers
Kim Sorenson, CID, IIDA, Director, Interior Design, and Daniel C. Moll, AIA, CID, NCARB, LEED AP, Partner/Architect

Fanning Howey
Carla Remenschneider, IIDA, Interior Designer; Ian Hadden, PE, LEED AP BD+C Energy and Michael Hall, AIA, REFP, LEED AP, Chief Mktg. Officer

LAMBERT Architecture + Interiors
Stuart H. McCormick, AIA, LEED AP, Vice President/Director of Design

Mach Architecture + Engineering, PC
Gregory A. Tomsic, AIA, LLS, LEED AP, Vice President and Darlene Klotzbach, LEED AP, ASID, Senior Designer

Doban Architecture
Susan Doban, President

Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood
Scott Steen, AIA, LEED AP, Architect

NAC Architecture
Greg Stack, AIA, Principal/K-12 Thought Leader

O'Connell Robertson
Jennifer Hoskins, RID, IIDA, LEED AP, Interior Designer

PBK
Irene Nigaglioni, AIA, REFP, Partner

Perkins Eastman
Sean O'Donnell, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, and Mary Rose Rankin, RA, LEED AP, Associate

Pasker Gould Ames & Weaver, Inc.
Cory Ferguson, LEED AP BD+C, NCARB, Architect

Tetra Tech Architects & Engineers
Christopher Glaubitz, RA, LEED AP, Senior Architect

TMP Architecture, Inc.
Laura Casai, IIDA, LEED AP, Interior Designer; Carol Frederick, AIA, Interior Designer; and Julie Blue, AIA, LEED AP Associate, Architecture Department

Universal Design Associates, Inc.
Gerald Schaeffer, CGP, Senior Design Associate

Rachlin Architects
Michael Rachlin, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP, Partner, Sustainable Services Manager

EwingCole

Patrick Brunner, AIA, Principal and Charles Rudalavage, AIA, Principal

What are the latest ideas/innovations in sustainability for education interiors?

A major concept that connects sustainability to teaching pedagogy is the creation of flexible spaces for learning in lieu of tailored spaces. This new type of teaching space, non-specific in nature, benefits from the use of furniture types that are flexible and technology infrastructure that supports a flexible learning space. This approach can create an environment that works over the course of decades, not years, negating the need for resourse intensive interior modifications, creating a truly sustainable environment.

Currently we are designing such an interior for a medical university where, rather than producing tiered room of various sizes and configurations, the rooms are flat floored with a number of them connected by upward folding partions. The furniture is selected for its mobility, which allows it to come, go and be rearranged as appropriate. The corollary of the use of flexible furniture is the need to provide adequate storage for furniture not being used, such as tables that are not being used when the room is arranged for a lecture presentation. Failure to provide the storage space will create a chaotic mess, undermining the flexibility of the concept.

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

Decisions made at the inception of a project can have a big impact but cost little. For example, during Concept Design, adjusting the solar orientation of large spans of glass to minimize solar heat gain has a negligible effect on the costs but can produce significant energy savings. Choosing a site that is within the established campus infrastructure zone, with access to transit, utility loops, etc. is much greener than building on an outlying green field site.

Students can be an untapped resource that can provide an educational component to the project at minimal cost. Looking to complete independent study credits, architecture or engineering students, for example, could provide energy modeling for a project that may otherwise be beyond the budget.

What are the top green design aspects that show the most return on investment?

At the macro level, recycling an existing building asset, versus constructing new, can produce a high rate of return. A building that may be functionally obsolete for one use can find new life with a new purpose. We've had two clients who recently de-commissioned chemistry buildings and converted them into general-use classroom and faculty office space, which is an effective conversion, as the less robust services for a classroom fit easily in the old facilities.

Strategies such as envelope enhancement, where the marginal cost of adding an additional inch of insulation to a new design, or using a higher-grade insulating product, is extremely low relative to the long-term energy-saving benefits.

Any other thoughts on designing green education institutions?

Green design can be defined in a variety of ways so it is critical to work with the institution to fashion the definition that is tailored to their particular circumstances. A number of colleges and universities, for example, want sustainable design but not necessarily a LEED building. The issue of green design must be thoroughly examined as part of the programming effort as it will have substantial impact on the design and cost of the project.

No longer is it acceptable to use terms like 'green' and 'sustainable' without a complete and agreed upon definition of those words within the context of the institutions mission and the particulars of the building project.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

On a recent project for the United States Military Academy at West Point, many natural, rounded glacial boulders were available on-site due to excavation. Instead of crushing them, or removing them from the site, both of which expend petroleum-based energy, they were stored and will be integrated into the landscape design of a terraced courtyard area.

For another client, we have designed the handholes, empty conduit, and foundation wall sleeves for the future installation of electric vehicle recharging stations to cover 50% of the parking spaces in the lot adjacent to their new library. They are adding the backbone in all of their new facilities to make the conversion to electric vehicles simple.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

ATS&R Planners/Architects/Engineers

Kim Sorenson, CID, IIDA, Director, Interior Design, and Daniel C. Moll, AIA, CID, NCARB, LEED AP, Partner/Architect

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

  • Daylighting (to bounce lighting loads) and lighting controls (occupancy sensors).
  • Select materials that are low-VOC-emitting, long-lasting, durable and low maintenance.
  • Recycling to divert from waste stream.
  • Water conservation (low-flow fixtures, sensors, low or no irrigation).
  • Green cleaning procedures.
  • Use of green paper and plastic products.
  • Switching to green products with few or no harsh chemicals for maintenance and cleaning.

What are the top green design aspects that show the most return on investment?

  • Energy controls and occupancy sensors to reduce use and cost.
  • Reduce electricity costs with energy-efficient lamps and LED where possible with controls.
  • Modify student/staff behavior with buildings serving as a teaching tool.
  • Energy modeling to estimate a building’s future energy consumption.

Other thoughts on designing green institutions?

  • Benchmark with comparable buildings.
  • Consider shared use of facilities to maximize investment and fully utilize space.
  • Link building interior design to student engagement through awareness of choices, impact on environment (short and long-term), and hands-on projects.
  • Encourage students to take an active approach to learning by designing hands-on spaces for teaching and learning.
  • Look at old problems in a new light.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

  • Acoustics with materials and room shape.
  • Low-emitting and low-maintenance flooring options.
  • Integrated displacement ventilation with low-velocity air and occupancy controls.
  • Daylighting and energy-efficient lighting and controls.
  • GREENGUARD-certified furniture.

What are the latest ideas/innovations in sustainability for education interiors?

  • New furniture and furnishings choices integrated with technology.
  • New surfacing materials, floors, low-maintenance, high-quality finishes.
  • Adaptable to change or ability to serve multiple purposes.
  • Lighting control, acoustics, reflect daylight.
  • Use of customizable products.
  • Designing customized spaces that can share purposes.
  • Designing for flexibility and future changes.
  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

Fanning Howey

Carla Remenschneider, IIDA, Interior Designer; Ian Hadden, PE, LEED AP BD+C, Energy; and Michael Hall, AIA, REFP, LEED AP, Chief Mktg. Officer

What are the latest ideas/innovations in sustainability for education interiors?

Although strategies like low-VOC paints and recycled materials are becoming more ubiquitous, the most exciting sustainable design trend is the increased use of the building as a teaching tool. Whether it's using renewable energy systems as demonstration elements or providing panel boards that show a school's daily energy consumption, the goal should be to make sustainability an integral part of the learning process. Besides, what's better than seeing sixth- and seventh- graders compete to see which class can use the least amount of energy? That's a braver, greener world, indeed.

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

The most cost-effective sustainable strategy isn't a product or design element, it's the process itself. Identifying green design as a goal and engaging in an integrated and collaborative design effort is the best place to start, and can occur without the pursuit of LEED certification. Conversations involving a wide range of stakeholders—from maintenance and operations staff to occupants to the full architectural/engineering team—should occur during the early phases of planning and design, when changes are most easily made and have the largest impact. For clients who want a low- or no-cost certification program, ENERGY STAR, Green Globes, and CHPS provide helpful guides.

What are the top green design aspects that show the most return on investment?

From an ROI standpoint, an integrated, collaborative design process is by far the most effective tool. Facility discussion and information sharing within the project team has the largest potential impact on a project's first cost and life cycle cost. From the standpoint of specific design practices, the use of energy modeling provides exceptional ROI. Using this approach, the owner and design team can engage in a quantitative analysis of operational and material options that will shape a building's performance over the next 40 to 60 years.

Any other thoughts on designing green education institutions?

It is still very important that the specific sustainability approach for a project is in harmony with the Owner's vision and goals. The approach should reflect the values of the specific community and the stakeholders, as opposed to being driven by the design team's agenda.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning

The Colonel Smith Middle School Complex is an excellent example of a highly-effective and integrated approach to green design. Team members including Emc2 Architects and Planners, 3W Management, Turner Construction, and district leaders engaged in a collaborative planning and design process that is anticipated to result in the first Net Zero Energy school in Arizona. Using the collective knowledge of each individual, we were able to employ strategies such as renewable energy sources, advanced lighting systems combined with daylight harvesting, plug load reduction, heat recovery systems, and rain water harvesting—and do so in a way that resulted in the most seamless, integrated, and cost-effective solution.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

LAMBERT Architecture + Interiors

Stuart H. McCormick, AIA, LEED AP, Vice President – Director of Design

What are the latest ideas/innovations in sustainability for education interiors?

Students today are environmentally savvy and expect to see sustainable aspects incorporated into designs. Therefore, the best designs make use of these concepts as a part of the educational experience. This may include "competitions" between university residence halls for energy or water conservation with real-time results constantly available online. It's a win-win strategy for all involved.

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

The increasing availability of green products means that some materials such as low-VOC paints, for example, can be sourced at little to no additional cost over conventional products, so it's a simple matter of making that the standard spec. Other aspects are just good design, such as the incorporation of daylight and views.

What are the top green design aspects that show the most return on investment?

Energy efficiency is without a doubt No. 1. Depending on the facility, water conservation easily can be the most important with residence halls as a prime example. Because many of these facilities are used for teaching and learning, creation of an environment that is conducive to learning is very important, and green aspects such as customizable climate control, access to daylight and views, etc., can all contribute to that.

Any other thoughts on designing green education institutions?

It's very important to consider hours of operation. Many higher education facilities are used beyond a typical "work day" and increasingly elementary and secondary schools have uses beyond daylight hours for after-school and community functions. So, dealing with intermittent and periodic operations becomes important – how to do so without compromising energy savings projections can be a challenge. Training of maintenance personnel is important as well. Well intentioned green investments can go bad if not properly maintained.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

In our new Admissions / Welcome Center for Wake Forest University, we successfully argued that the daylight-flooded lobby was a "regularly occupied space" due to the building's intended use as a Welcome / Visitor's Center and that students and their families spent time in this space waiting for interviews and tours. Therefore we were allowed to count it as part of the spaces included for daylight and views under LEED whereas building lobbies are generally not included.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

Mach Architecture + Engineering, PC

Gregory A. Tomsic, AIA, LLS, LEED AP, Vice President, and Darlene Klotzbach, LEED AP, ASID, Senior Designer

What are the latest ideas/innovations in sustainability for education interiors?

The sun is a bountiful resource for sustainable opportunities for educational interiors. Reducing solar gain in fenestration areas reduces the cooling load. Conversely, heat energy recovery and capturing solar energy to supplement water heating and photovoltaics can decrease heating demand.

Systems that respond to and adjust for variances in need provide an opportunity for environmental responsibility and operational efficiency. For example, CO2 sensors with variable speed drives in ventilation equipment circulate air only in the quantities necessary. Capturing and utilizing natural light is effective but at times inconsistent. To align user needs with the sustainable goals, supplement natural light with lighting controls that adjust to the amount of required artificial light.

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue LEED certification, what are some simple strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

The best fit is not only a design that is environmentally sustainable, but also sustainable for the client. Buy-in will make even significant changes become enduring practices. A written, functional maintenance plan encompassing sustainable elements will provide a road map while establishing a standard.

Elements to include may be use of compact fluorescent bulbs, reduce wattages where appropriate, installation and appropriate use of setback programmable thermostats coupled with staggered heating/lighting/cooling start times and green cleaning products. These interventions will reduce the carbon footprint and result in cost savings when used consistently. Participation from end users, maintenance and purchasing will help a sustainable program endure.

Any other thoughts on designing green education institutions?

While the industry buzz is about sustainability, there continues to be an obligation to educate clients in order to align expectations with deliverables. Is your client looking for the recognition that comes with a LEED rating or is “sustainable” synonymous with cost savings? For some clients, the LEED rating is the goal with an integrated public relations effort to maximize all of the benefits of the recognition by the USGBC. It is not uncommon for clients to be drawn to their perception of a LEED rating, only to learn that what they truly need is an environmentally balanced design that incorporates a specific ROI. There are many innovative and interesting ideas but ultimately the design must be suited to the client's goals. An affordable green roof that is not supported by a maintenance plan will soon be a brown blight. Designating parking spaces for fuel efficient vehicles is a popular idea but make sure that it isn't only the Dean who drives a Prius. The best fit is not only a design that is environmentally sustainable, but also sustainable for the client.

What example from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

Oriskany Hall at SUNY IT at Utica/Rome, currently in review as a LEED Gold Residence Hall, uses a strategic combination of sustainable elements that require little maintenance. Some highlights include white roofs for reduced heat island effect, low flow fixtures, water reuse and low VOC paints. In order to engage the student population to promote long term conservation, the main lobby features an energy consumption display monitor organized by suites, to encourage responsibility and even friendly competition.

In several other recent projects, our site design incorporated groundwater collection systems. This non-potable water is reused for watering playfields, reducing the demand on municipal collections systems, while decreasing the potential for flooding.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

Doban Architecture

Susan G. Doban, AIA, President

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

We encourage our clients to think sustainably in even small-scale projects and interventions by using existing urban building stock in new ways, and considering prefabrication to minimize construction disruption. This approach has been embraced by Monroe College on their downtown New Rochelle campus, where they have used a prefabricated wall system, the Think Living Wall System, which provides privacy for student occupants in an existing loft space now used for student housing. The college has embraced this approach, using prefabricated panels from recycled plastic in other existing spaces.

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

The simplest, and most obvious, strategy is to open up spaces to natural daylighting. Not only does this reduce the daytime lighting loads, it also provides a psychological benefit to the building's occupants.

Other strategies include using durable, recycled flooring and wall-covering materials; energy-efficient and long-lasting lighting; efficient mechanical systems; and climate-appropriate landscaping and irrigation that take advantage of natural features instead of energy-intensive engineered solutions.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

For a new Performing Arts Center, integrated design team workshops were instrumental in discussing and setting high performance goals in terms of sustainability, energy-efficiency, and other planning elements. Among the goals developed by the team are the installation of an energy management system, enhanced commissioning by a third party to verify that systems perform as specified, and an overall goal to exceed Title 24 requirements by 15 percent.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood

Scott Steen, AIA, LEED AP, Architect

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

Some of the easiest strategies include:

  • Providing premium parking spots for ULEV vehicles and/or carpools.
  • Providing bike racks and/or easy access to public transportation.
  • Use of native landscaping that requires little or no irrigation.
  • Use of concrete with recycled fly ash.
  • Use of locally sourced/manufactured materials.
  • Use of high-performance glass.
  • Selecting low-VOC interior finishes and furnishings with recycled content.
  • Providing as much daylighting as possible.
  • Use of light-colored, reflective roof material.
  • Use of water-reducing plumbing fixtures.
  • Use of occupancy sensors to control faucets, lighting and air conditioning.
  • Requiring a higher SEER rating for the HVAC equipment and using newer environmentally friendly refrigerants.
  • Recycling construction waste such as steel studs and other materials.
  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

NAC Architecture

Greg Stack, AIA, Principal/K-12 Thought Leader

What are the latest ideas/innovations in sustainability for education interiors?

In order to enable sustainability to be integrated into the curriculum, we have been creating “windows” into mechanical rooms, walls, etc. to allow students to glimpse the inner workings of the building. We include signage next to these features that explains why they are there. This will hopefully enable students to question and learn about their environments and give teachers the opportunity to include learning about the building in their lesson plans.

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

The simplest strategies for incorporating green design concern thinking about the environment and the circumstances of the specific project. For instance, siting the building for good solar orientation should not cost more yet is a key strategy for reducing heat gain in the building. This is a strategy that used to be a common practice prior to the widespread use of air conditioning and returning to thinking about the “situation” of a building and common sense ideas will go a long way in making the building more sustainable for little or no cost.

What are the top green design aspects that show the most return on investment?

Once a building envelope is designed to be well insulated, a focus on mechanical systems will have the greatest return on investment. Using newly available heat exchanger technology can show substantial savings since energy is efficiently extracted from waste heat prior to it being ejected from the building. This can really improve a schools energy use and save money.

Any other thoughts on designing green education institutions?

Architects and engineers have an opportunity and obligation to use green design on educational projects. The opportunity is to save client's money through reduced operating costs especially through energy savings. The obligation is to teach a new generation the importance of preserving scarce resources by demonstrating how this can be done in the very building in which they are learning.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

Recent projects that incorporate green design features are Machias and Riverview elementary schools in Snohomish, Wash. These two schools each have been able to reduce their energy use index (EUI) to below 20 when 70 is typical for schools in the area. They feature reused materials, super insulated walls, triple glazing, daylighting, ground source heat pumps and 100KW photovoltaic arrays, along with informational signage to teach students and teachers about the green features at the school.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

O'Connell Robertson

Jennifer Hoskins, RID, IIDA, LEED AP, Interior Designer

What are the latest ideas/innovations in sustainability for education interiors?

Demountable partitions have greatly influenced our designs and our clients' expectations for a functional and sustainable building. Not only do we design to LEED standards, but as a firm we also think about how the materials in our building will adapt to future changes. Demountable wall systems can earn LEED credits by the veneers chosen and by helping divert unnecessary construction debris from the landfill. More important, they set the building up for a lifetime of sustainability. The owner can reuse and reconfigure the wall system each time there is a renovation, which can lead to a building reuse credit in the future. Besides being flexible, the systems on the market today have limitless design capabilities with color and form that benefit both users and designers.

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

Maximize your daylighting. Orient the building where glazing can be used most effectively. Bring the lighting in and use it as your focal point and design around it. Choose light-colored materials for flooring, walls and ceilings to really take advantage of daylight. Dark paints and carpets require more fixtures, which require more energy. The space will feel larger, energy can be saved and the people using the building will appreciate it.

What are the top green design aspects that show the most return on investment?

When discussing return on investment, our first option is flooring. There are many green options currently on the market that can achieve LEED credits, but if it does not have longevity or reduce maintenance cost in the future than it really isn't sustainable. Some brands of rubber flooring can have an average life of 30 years. This long lifespan plus minimal maintenance of sweeping and damp mopping make it a fantastic option for a green product with a high return on investment.

Any other thoughts on designing green education institutions?

When a client wants to incorporate green design features, it's imperative that all parties involved come together in the beginning to plan strategies. LEED credits and prerequisites affect and complement each other so it is critical that each member of the team has a clear understanding of the credits the project will try to attain. By working together from inception to completion, mistakes are easily diverted and other benefits can be created. When working with all disciplines, ideas flourish and Innovation in Design credits are born.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

After putting together specifications for multiple green buildings, our interiors department has incorporated sustainable requirements into our master specifications. Because low-emitting adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings, carpet and furniture are so abundant now, it was easier for us to incorporate the requirements as our basis of design. This means one less item to worry about in our planning, regardless if we are going for LEED certification.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

PBK

Irene Nigaglioni, AIA, REFP, Partner

What are the latest ideas/innovations in sustainability for education interiors?

We believe that the latest trends and innovations include the use of materials for learning and teaching, not only as a finish or a building component. We believe in maximizing value, and taking sustainable materials and components, and making them an integral part of the learning strategies in the schools. For example, recycled ceramic tile that is used as a wainscot can be designed to be proportional, allowing the opportunity to teach fractions as students travel throughout the building. In addition, highlighting the materials sustainable features can help students as they understand their relationship and responsibility as stewards of the planet.

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

Simple techniques include improving acoustics in the facility and maximizing natural light as they are both very important in learning and student success. If the facility is new, the proper siting is very important in order to maximize northern exposure. In addition, through the great innovations in materials and systems today, the installation of indirect/direct lighting in the classrooms with control switches will result in less energy use, and decreasing the use of lamps, reducing maintenance costs as well. This change in lighting coupled with painting the top two feet of the walls white will allow the ceiling surface to glow, making the classroom feel brighter, at a minimal initial cost.

What are the top green design aspects that show the most return on investment?

Design wise, an energy efficient HVAC system, effective lighting and a sound, insulated building envelope have proven time and time again to have a great return on the initial investment. For example, investing in a geothermal HVAC system has resulted in savings of 28% in energy use when compared to a chilled water system. The savings multiply when coupled with a reflective roof and double insulated windows.

Any other thoughts on designing green education institutions?

We believe that there is not one correct shade of green. Every institution should consider their own needs and make decisions based on what is best for their facilities. There are plenty of no cost and low cost items that can be incorporated in a facility, and as educational institutions finalize their study of their own facilities, they may opt for additional techniques and incorporate them at the rate that best suits them.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

We have several school facilities that have embraced green design and planning. PBK was instrumental in bringing CHPS to Texas, and now with CHPS-Texas all PBK facilities are designed to attain a CHPS design status. These facilities not only take advantage of sustainable techniques, but also maximize the attributes of the built environment that impact learning. These attributes – natural and artificial lighting, acoustics, furniture, ventilation and temperature control – have a significant impact on student success. They are of utmost importance when designing school facilities.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

Perkins Eastman

Sean O'Donnell, AIA, LEED AP, Principal and Mary Rose Rankin, RA, LEED AP, Associate

What are the latest ideas/innovations in sustainability for education interiors?

Sustainability pervades the design of educational buildings and their interiors. From the conservation of energy through sophisticated daylighting strategies, the reduction of electrical lighting and plug loads, emphasis on thermal comfort, indoor air quality and acoustical design, to furniture specification, every aspect of an interior design contributes to a more sustainable future. Taking advantage of the nature of the setting, the next great opportunity is to integrate sustainable design within the curriculum to educate the next stewards of our global environment. On-line data feeds from the building management systems can be available from student's mobile devices, interior educational settings can flow into outdoors settings and facilities can be jointly used, increasing utilization.

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

Enhancing the performance of HVAC systems and the building envelope (new windows, roofing, insulation) should reap returns on the investment over time. Likewise, replacement of older lighting fixtures with more modern, energy-efficient lamps and fixtures should reduce energy consumption and improve the educational environment. As noted above and below, thermal comfort and indoor air quality will greatly enhance the learning environment. Even if not pursuing certification, the energy modeling and the commissioning processes associated with LEED often result in enhanced performance of a building and its systems.

If schools don't have the budget to replace HVAC equipment, even something as simple as replacing existing filters with higher level MERV filters goes a long way to improving indoor air quality. Repairing minor leaks in piping keeps moisture and possible mold growth out of the ceilings and walls. Replacing appliances with Energy Star rated appliances, available now everywhere and at comparable prices to non-Energy Star appliances, also helps to save on water and energy use.

What are the top green design aspects that show the most return on investment?

There are many ways to evaluate a return on investment. Energy and water conservation measures will allow for the reallocation of financial resources from utilities to education. Thermal comfort and indoor air quality measures may reduce absenteeism and turn-over. Natural light and views may reduce eyestrain and fatigue, enhancing educational outcomes. Each of these examples has a different set of metrics but each adds value. Early in the project the goals and priorities should be established and synergies between the components of the project should be explored and identified as many interventions will contribute to resource conservation and educational outcomes.

Any other thoughts on designing green education institutions?

Because of their centrality in our community and the populations that uses these facilities, in many ways the design of sustainable educational environments is the most significant investment we can make. Cultivating a life-long commitment to environmental stewardship will enable the future leaders of our society address the most significant environmental, economic and social issues of the 21st century.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

Stoddert Elementary School is one example of a comprehensive approach to sustainability. It is a joint use facility (school/community center) and it is the first building to be fully served by a ground source heating/cooling system (aka "geothermal"). Natural light and views are pervasive and learning extends from the interior into the landscape. Building upon these resources, the school is creating a curriculum using the "building as a teaching tool." Data from the building management system is available for analysis and the students lead tours of the building demonstrating for their peers and visitors the sustainable attributes of their campus.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

Pasker Gould Ames & Weaver, Inc.

Cory Ferguson, LEED AP BD+C, NCARB, Architect

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

After construction is completed, there is always the long term cost of actually running the building, which includes energy costs and a workforce to maintain the facility. Regardless of any green certification, a school district or university will benefit greatly from having a highly efficient building envelope to reduce those energy needs.

Approaches might include insulated concrete forms (ICFs), structural insulated panels (SIPs) or thermal efficient wall systems incorporating continuous exterior insulation sealed with spray foam insulation. While these systems might seem new to owners, they are more efficient and in many cases cost the same as traditional wall construction methods.

The other consideration we recommend is to take maximum advantage of free energy resources like daylight, passive ventilation and thermal energy to further reduce energy usage.

Any other thoughts on designing green education institutions?

The buildings themselves sometimes serve as the best tool for sustainability education. The Utah Career Center design utilized the building to educate the occupants and visitors of the incorporated sustainable attributes.

Most notable was highlighting high efficiency building systems by transforming the mechanical room into a 1,700 square foot, glass-enclosed, exhibit space at the heart of the main lobby. The elements that contribute to water conserving plumbing, enhanced refrigerant management, indoor air quality, etc. were also installed exposed to be innovative teaching tools - all of which are the systems that these union contractor apprentices are learning about in their core curriculum.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

I cannot overemphasize the need for designing around natural daylight in educational spaces. Renovations and replacement projects have shown us the difference in the attitude of faculty and students who had no access to daylight or views (not even windows in the doors) compared to how they perceived the classrooms and teaching environment after skylights, light tubes, and windows are incorporated.

Nothing does more to energize a space for learning than having light from the sun reaching into that space.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

Tetra Tech Architects & Engineers

Christopher Glaubitz, RA, LEED AP, Senior Architect

What are the latest ideas/innovations in sustainability for education interiors?

Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) form a new trend that will help designers compare products to one another and to the requirements of environmental standards around the world. EPDs are defined by ISO Standard 14025, and promote unbiased transparency of product content, chemistry and properties. The basis for this information is a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Increased product knowledge leads to informed design decisions.

In existing schools, retrofitting a building with wireless monitoring devices to either replace or integrate with legacy MEP systems allows energy monitoring without disruptive demolition to interior spaces and finishes. Fewer repair materials are needed to install a system that saves energy.

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

Take advantage of daylight. Careful daylight design, even without automated harvesting systems, can reduce lighting electrical usage with proper training of staff and students. Specify window treatments that allow or prevent solar gain depending on the building's climate and the opening's orientation.

Specify products with low VOC or no VOC levels, products with recycled content and products with longer life cycles. The life cycle costs associated with these products can often easily justify their payback for a school with limited ongoing maintenance budgets. Training maintenance staff to reduce unneeded maintenance and to use green cleaning products are cost-effective measures.

What are the top green design aspects that show the most return on investment?

Energy metering and monitoring systems alert building managers to a variety of issues that can increase the energy efficiency of a facility. The savings in utility bills often pays for the installation of systems, and additional effort spent managing the information.

Correctly positioned exterior plantings that provide appropriate and seasonal shade reduce the heating load of a building.

High performance building envelopes reduce heating, cooling and lighting costs.

Using high-albedo roofing materials reduces internal cooling cost with little to no first cost difference.

Many products are now available with low levels of, or no VOC's, which makes supporting good indoor air quality much easier. The reduced absenteeism of staff that is a result of superior IEQ can bring about a significant cost savings for a school district.

Any other thoughts on designing green education institutions?

The frequency of green practices is moving from isolated ideas or thoughts, to everyday actions, from the individual to the general practice of society.

One important role of designers is to help educate school districts, including administrators, staff, students and community members on the importance of high performance building and materials. However, more and more students and staff request sustainable features and performance, as the awareness of how a sustainable approach to interior design can enhance their lives. Instead of the designer advocating, the client and user are initiating.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

The displacement air ventilation system designed for the Cattaraugus Little Valley Middle/High School in upstate New York combines superior indoor air quality with a cost effective HVAC system. The air supply ductwork is integrated with interior elements like casework, stud wall construction, and column wraps to deliver the air low in the space, close to building occupants.

The design for Charles H Bullock Elementary School in Montclair, NJ included a roof mounted PV array, 100% outside air energy recovery ventilator, closed loop geothermal heat pump system, high efficiency boilers, and a full DDC system with web access.

Many projects include the specification of products with low VOCs, high recycled content, low maintenance needs, and long life cycles.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

TMP Architecture, Inc.

Laura Casai, IIDA, LEED AP, Interior Designer; Carol Frederick, AIA, Interior Designer; and Julie Blue, AIA, LEED AP Associate, Architecture Department

What are the latest ideas/innovations in sustainability for education interiors?

TMP's interior design department has seen a new trend in which LCD displays describing the sustainable/green features within a building are featured in the building's lobby or other common area. At times, green and sustainable features are brought directly into the classroom and become a teaching tool. Lately, innovative products with natural materials – such as bamboo, eucalyptus and even grass – are found within many interior building materials. A lightweight flexible concrete tile, made from recycled automotive glass rather than sand, can be used in schools instead of a typical ceramic tile.

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

With energy efficiency in mind, several cost effective "quick fixes" to implement green strategies include:

  • Utilizing occupancy sensors and low flow
  • Using natural versus artificial lighting, controlling
  • Using low-e glass or shading devices
  • Implementing a green cleaning program to boost air quality by using products without toxins
  • Recycling building materials during construction.
  • Using materials with recycled or low-VOC content such as linoleum, cork, bamboo flooring and structural steel.

What are the top green design aspects that show the most return on investment?

New facilities should be constructed with a tight/shallow footprint in order to maximize daylighting potential and reduce mechanical system runs. This strategy reduces construction costs, reduces disturbance to the natural land/habitat and decreases the demand on electricity.

Reducing Construction Costs: a shallow and tight building footprint reduces overall material and labor costs to construct the building. Less material is used to complete the envelope and the mechanical system by reducing the amount of ductwork required throughout the space.

Reducing Natural Land Disturbance: this allows vegetated/natural growth to promote bio-diversity and promote a natural wildlife that can become a teaching tool or even an outdoor classroom.

Maximize Daylighting: decrease the demand on electrical lighting by utilizing natural sunlight during peak hours. Electrical energy costs are reduced for the life of the building. Control sun exposure using low-e glass or shading devices on the south, west and east sides of the building to maintain thermal comfort for occupants.

Any other thoughts on designing green education institutions?

Green is now the standard in design. It is now a challenge to avoid using green materials in a school's interior! Product manufacturers are competing to provide the "next best" idea for green products. In addition, utilizing green products in education is now less expensive, allowing more designers to implement green design strategies in schools.

What examples from your own recent projects have addressed green design and planning?

At Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw, Michigan, our design team implemented an aquathermal system for heating and cooling the new 95,000 square foot College of Health & Human Services building. Heat exchangers are floated onto the surface of the pond, and ultimately sink to the bottom where they exchange energy from the bottom in the winter and reject heat from the building into the pond water in summer. The system represents the largest pond closed loop geothermal system in the State of Michigan.

Also in Michigan, Ann Arbor Public School's new 1,600-student Skyline High School design includes a roof-mounted wind turbine, located at the school's highest point, which serves as a learning tool for students. The omni-directional spinning structure is connected to conduit, which runs to science labs and other positions within the school. Students can monitor the turbine's generation of energy, answering such questions as, "what time of year does wind generate the most energy?" or "how many wind turbines would provide adequate power for a classroom, a school or a community?"

For Michigan State University in East Lansing, TMP interior designers have included eucalyptus – a rapidly renewable resource – within a performing arts center and life sciences facility on campus.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

Universal Design Associates, Inc.

Gerald Schaeffer, CGP, Senior Design Associate

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

At the start of the Ferdinand Library design process, the library board decided it did not want to pursue LEED accreditation; however, they were interested in sustainable green design to the extent that any added cost did not lessen the functional required square footage and the project remained within budget. Incorporated into the design were sustainable exterior building materials, recycled-content materials, regionally manufactured materials, and low-VOC-emitting finishes, along with daylighting views through an open concept design. These items were accomplished with little or no added cost to the project. A geothermal HVAC system, controllable lighting, increased ventilation, innovative wastewater technologies and construction waste management were also incorporated. The end result was a facility that could possibly achieve a minimum LEED-certified accreditation.

What are the top green design aspects that show the most return on investment?

"Return on investment" is a relative statement! Incorporating geothermal HVAC systems, water saving/eliminating wastewater technologies, and sustainable building products are probably the most obvious.

The biggest return of investment quite possibly could be a building design that incorporates increased ventilation, systems monitoring the quality of outdoor air brought into buildings, low-VOC-emitting products, increased building daylighting, as well as other items that have a direct effect on the overall health, both the psychological and physical well-being of the building's occupants. This return on investment could pay huge dividends in terms of future healthcare coverage costs and medical treatment.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.

Rachlin Architects

Michael Rachlin, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP, Partner

If a school or university has decided it does not want to pursue actual LEED certification, what are some simple, cost-effective strategies to still incorporate green design in a facility?

The simplest, and most obvious, strategy is to open up spaces to daylighting. Not only does this reduce the daytime lighting loads, but also it provides a psychological benefit to the building's occupants.

Other strategies include using durable, recycled flooring and wall-covering materials; energy-efficient and long-lasting lighting; efficient mechanical systems; and climate-appropriate landscaping and irrigation that take advantage of natural features instead of energy-intensive engineered solutions.

  • Return to the 2011 Educational Interiors Showcase Green Schools Q&A main page to view more responses.