Each January the cover story for SP&M is about trends in education, and each January the experts that we contact concerning the various aspects of educational facility management have very interesting and insightful perspectives on the trends in their particular areas. This year is no different.


Educators and school architects are seeking inspiration both internationally and close to home for many of the latest trends in school design and construction. The planning process has evolved into a longer, more intense exploratory phase, provoking much thought and reflection as to how the physical learning environment can best support the educational mission.

This expansive phase of study frequently leads to the development of child-centered spaces that require greater flexibility in configuration and intimacy in scale. Large schools are being designed with smaller learning environments via the schools-within-a-school or academic neighborhood concept.

A greater emphasis on security has challenged architects to integrate security technology as well as passive security measures, while maintaining welcoming environments that support both student and community use. Flexible, technology-oriented venues such as“cybercommons” and“cybercafés” are also becoming popular.

Sustainable design and construction is another compelling trend. Site considerations, natural daylighting, energy-efficient systems and “green” specifications are all fundamental aspects of sustainable design, which coincides well with a parallel trend that calls for increased use of the building itself — its systems, structure and overall construction — as a vibrant learning laboratory.

Ronald H. Fanning, AIA, PE, REF, chairman of the board and principal, Fanning/Howey Associates, Inc.

There is a trend toward the use of monolithic concrete structures (domes). Although, in the past, many thought of this type of structure as a solution for athletic and maintenance facilities, many architects and planners have begun to realize the merits of this kind of structure for the entire school facility. There are many reasons why.

• These are the strongest structures known to man and can sustain Force 5 tornadoes (winds in excess of 300 m.p.h.).

• They feature super insulation factors of R-60 to R-90, making the savings in energy cost generally equal to the initial cost of the building within a period of 11 to 16 years.

• The average “date of enclosure” for a domed 35,000-sq.-ft. elementary school, for example, is approximately 50 minutes as compared to six to seven months for a comparable conventional structure.

• Monolithic structures enclose the largest amount of space with the least amount of material (concrete also being the least costly of all major building materials.)

• The one-piece monolithic roof ends perennial roof leak problems extant in large, level-roofed structures.

• Second and third floors can be supported by the dome.

• The absence of columns or load-bearing partitions negate the usual high cost of flexibility.

D. Thomas Kincaid, AIA, principal, D. Thomas Kincaid and Associates


Facing the need for an improved learning and teaching environment, increased energy costs, increased accountability and reduced operating and capital budgets, school decision makers and administrators are cautiously turning to high-performance (HP) (Green, Sustainable) design and its elements in the design and construction of new and renovation of existing schools. HP design addresses improved indoor air quality (IAQ), energy efficiency (reduced usage, costs and impact on environment), use of natural material and resources, which results in an improved learning and teaching environment.

The modern era of HP schools began in the ‘90s in North Carolina with a few HP schools built with significant results in energy savings (30 to 40 percent) and improved test scores (10 to 20 percent). The effect of day-lighting was studied in the late ‘90s to reveal its impact on student learning. 21,000 students in California, Washington and Colorado found test scores increased by 26 percent in reading and 20 percent in math.

Cautious turning in the mid ‘90s became sharper as the 20th century ended and the 21st began. HP schools were being built or renovations were being made at an increased rate. This is occurring from New Hampshire to North Carolina to Texas to Wisconsin to Oregon. In Wisconsin, Wausau West High School experienced problems with IAQ and high heating bills. A new HVAC strategy allowing 100 percent outside air and reduced energy consumption was used. This strategy resulted in saving of more than $100,000 annually in energy and an IAQ improvement of more than 300 percent. About the same time in McKinney, Texas, the voters backed the school board and administration to incorporate HP design elements in design of new schools. The first, Roy Lee Walker Elementary, was opened in 2000, with several other schools being opened since.

Around the county HP designed school projects are being found on a monthly basis. Those identified to date: Wisconsin — Four; Illinois — Three; Oregon — Seven; Michigan — Three; Kansas — Three; New Jersey — Four; Pennsylvania — Two; Virginia — Two; Georgia — One; and the list continues to grow.

In Oregon, The Dalles Middle School and Ash Creek Elementary opened in 2002, incorporating all elements of HP design including the newest energy efficiency lighting system — T-5 fluorescents, solar tubes, other forms of daylighting, geo-exchange and heat recovery systems with energy reductions as much as 60 percent. In Colorado, Zach Elementary School, Fort Collins, opened in 2002 with many HP design elements with energy use forecasted to be less than 50 percent of other schools in the district. 2002 saw the first Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rated school in the nation opened outside of Statesville, N.C. — Third Creek Elementary.

If energy savings of 60 percent are desired, along with an improved learning and teaching environment you should make the turn to HP design. To assist with this turn, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rebuild America/EnergySmart Schools program provides HP design information at .

Lorenz (Larry) V. Schoff, national K-12 tech assistant, Rebuild America/Energy Smart Schools


Two major school safety issues will surface in 2003. The first issue involves the “persistently dangerous school” component of the federal No Child Left Behind law, which allows parents to transfer students based upon definitions of persistently dangerous, which is defined by individual states. While legislators had good intentions for offering parents and students safer schools, the persistently dangerous school component of the law has at least four potential adverse implications for creating LESS safe schools.V 1) To avoid creating a politically dangerous relationship with local districts, state education officials may feel pressured to create definitions of persistently dangerous in a manner that local schools will likely never meet, making the law meaningless.

2) Since being labeled as persistently dangerous has serious political and administrative implications for local school administrators, many may be pressured to underreport and/or nonreport school crime and violence.

3) While keeping their statistics of school crime down to avoid the persistently dangerous label, school officials may simultaneously reduce their opportunities for obtaining grant funding for school violence prevention programs, since the absence of data will prohibit them from demonstrating a need for such programs.

4) The intense focus on meeting academic standards to comply with the No Child Left Behind law could result in some school officials transferring both funding and their priority attention away from safety programs to a tunnel-vision focus exclusively on academics.

The second major school safety issue involves schools feeling a greater impact from terrorism and international war in 2003. Terrorism and war could also increase the safety risks of schools as they could easily become potential targets for terrorist acts.

This concern is intensified as to date, federal and state homeland security efforts have largely left schools behind in terms of inclusion in planning and in funding for enhanced school security and emergency preparedness measures.

Kenneth S. Trump, president, National School Safety and Security Services Curt Lavarello, executive director, National Association of School Resource Officers

Athletic Facilities

K-12 Schools looking for a fast, affordable building alternative can now look to semipermanent structures for a solution.

These structures are a stressed membrane structure consisting of a series of aluminum-arched ribs connected by modular architectural membrane panels.

They can be built at a fraction of the time of a traditional building and at significantly lower cost. Ideal for education applications including gymnasiums, classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, renovation project swing space, and sports and recreation.

Ultimately, the exclusive relocatable features of this product provide maximum flexibility for the ever-changing needs of educational facilities.

Semipermanent structures are used in more than 90 countries worldwide. Sprung Instant Structures, Inc., has achieved international recognition by providing reliable, versatile and technically advanced semipermanent structures. For additional information, go to .

Jim Avery, vice president of sales and marketing, Sprung Instant Structures, Inc.