NSW Government Architect Creates Environmental Design Guide For Schools

The Government Architect of NSW (GANSW), alongside the NSW Department of Education, have worked together to create a manual for schools across the state on how to design their buildings, position their school chairs, and create their facilities to be sustainable.

The manual, available at the GANSW’s site, argues that environmentally sensitive school design help boost educational outcomes on top of reducing the environmental impact of school buildings on the environment. It states that factors like air quality, ventilation, natural lighting, thermal comfort and, even acoustic performance, have been shown to have notable impact on the wellbeing of both teachers and students, while improving attentiveness, attendance and overall performance.

The manual leans on passive design as the lynchpin of its organisation in achieving results, and is aimed at the people that reside in the schools; school principals, teachers and students interested in changing up how they place school chairs and the like on their own campuses rather than the designers and architects that work and develop these schools.

The manual outlines the fundamentals of passive design, also emphasizing the importance of insulation, natural lighting and shading, cross-ventilation and external shading. It also listed down some simple changes that a school can make to its external and internal spaces in order to boost environmental outcomes.

The manual says that introducing some simple environmental design strategies can do a lot to improve the environment in schools. There’s a lot of strategies, it adds, that have big impacts at relatively low costs, and that these improvements can make schools both feel and work better, improving the wellbeing and performance of staff, teachers and students, and can even encourage students to take an active role in taking care of the environment.

Some of the strategies include simple changes like opening windows on both sides of a room for cross-flow ventilation, brining in plants into the classrooms, as well as exposing building services in order to make students aware of how resources are utilized by the school, and, additionally, the manual recommends creating a guide on how to use air conditioning in the building effectively.