The Impact of School Buildings on Student Health and Performance
The importance of school buildings has been recognized as a fundamental element of society since the beginnings of America and beyond. Today, roughly a quarter of our nation’s population, including our youngest citizens, spends the majority of their days in school buildings. As a result, schools have become a contentious and heavily scrutinized part of civil society. And yet, many of our nation’s schools are in disrepair, with systems in need of repair or replacement. But with state and local budgets growing increasingly limited, funding allocation for school construction and renovation needs to be carefully weighed. It is important to ensure that investments are going toward efforts that can best foster healthier buildings and environments. As this research field moves forward, the need for collaboration will only grow, especially as we learn to make our research more broadly applicable and actionable. This exciting and necessary task promises to strengthen our understanding of the relationship between school buildings and student health and learning, which, to date, is more viscerally understood than logically proven. Our challenge, laid out in this document, is in filling gaps and clearly building links on a chain, investigating the essential phenomena at play when children are impacted by their school buildings.
Lindsay Baker is a sustainability and impact executive and expert in the intersection between humans, buildings and technology. She is a Senior Fellow of the Rocky Mountain Institute, sits on several non-profit and corporate boards, and is currently launching a non-profit organization around climate action for the building industry. She was previously the Global Head of Sustainability and Impact for WeWork, serving as its first leader in that realm. Prior to WeWork, she was a founding team member and President of the venture-backed smart buildings software company Comfy, which was acquired by Siemens in 2018. She has also held roles at the US Green Building Council, Google and other organizations working on the intersection of sustainability and buildings. Lindsay hosts a podcast about women’s leadership in the sustainable buildings sector, Women in Sustainability: Design the Future, and is a frequent speaker, author and contributor to outlets such as Greenbiz, CRETech, and others. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College, and an MS in Architecture from UC Berkeley where she studied and worked at the Center for the Built Environment, focusing on human-energy dynamics in K-12 public schools.
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