Predictions & Trends

Spaces4Learning 2024 Predictions for Educational Facilities: Part 2

We asked our readership to send us their predictions for 2024 trends in educational facilities. Across K–12 and higher-education campuses both, we asked for opinions on topics like technology, flexible learning spaces, campus safety & security, disaster response, and more. This article is the second in a three-part series compiling responses from educational professionals and vendors.

“There will be new K-12 school safety and security standards in 2024 and heightened interest in them.  Some forward-thinking states will adopt these quickly; others will wait and see.

“Funding and ROI opportunities associated with reducing K-12 energy consumption (the second largest expense after payroll) will boost LEED certifications and green energy programs. These savings may be used to invest in security.

“Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) will be another focus, combining tactical design, natural surveillance and effective use of the built environment to reduce crime and the fear of crime. CPTED has trailed LEED in funding and promotion but we expect more facility directors and COOs to certify in 2024, and more Assessment and Evaluation (A&E) teams to highlight CPTED in school proposals.

“2024 will also see open architecture Access Control systems positioned as the unifying platform for all physical security. This will enable district-wide visualization, communication, door control (like automated lockdowns and immediate alerts when doors are propped open), and mobile access (including the ability for first responders to enter the campus using mobile credentials during emergency lockdowns).

“This ultimately may be the year that finally changes state and national ‘top school architectural design’ awards from ‘prettiest’ to safest.”
- Mike Garcia, National End User Manager, K-12 Safe Schools, HID Global

“Existing school buildings contend with a wide range of infrastructure needs from outdated construction, failing systems, limited resources, and high energy usage. Transitioning these schools to all-electric can solve multiple needs by enhancing energy resilience, reducing carbon emissions, improving indoor air quality and thermal comfort, and providing adequate heating and cooling in the face of climate change. When school districts have an electrification roadmap in place, planned maintenance and investments are intentional steps toward reaching their goals. Tighter building envelopes with fresh air ventilation support efficient HVAC systems and create better learning environments for all students.

“The push to electrify schools is gaining momentum. New financial incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as local and state initiatives and utility rebates, make it possible for all school districts to take advantage of these opportunities. We are optimistic that more K–12 schools will make this transition as there has never been a better time than now. This is an investment in the health and wellbeing of our students now and for decades to come.”
- Regan Shields Ives, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP, Principal, K-12 Education Sector Leader; and Megan Brown, AIA, CPHD, LEED AP BD+C, Energy Team Manager; both with Finegold Alexander Architects

“As public entities start to require a CPTED Professional (CPD) on design teams, we will see a more integrated focus and proactive approach to campus design with respect to safety and security. Designing for safety and security, like the introduction of LEED and the sustainability era, is now a more integrated part of the design process that has the opportunity to elevate school design. The potential result is more dynamic learning environments, both inside the schoolhouse as well as in the overall campus setting, that are engaging and connected to the communities the school is a part of, or the anchor to.”
- Scott Moir, AIA, CDT, Associate, GWWO Architects

“With districts feeling the pressure to obligate ESSER III funds by the end of September and spend those funds by April 2025, K–12 leaders need to assess their most urgent needs and prioritize projects that will improve learning and working environments. With increased school security concerns, security projects will be top of mind in utilizing the remaining funds. Additionally, to increase student performance and reduce absenteeism, solutions that optimize indoor air quality (IAQ) are top of mind. K–12 leaders who have not yet secured or allocated their federal funding must do so now or risk falling behind in addressing their buildings' immediate needs and bolstering their campuses for future generations.”
- Anthony Seiler, Industry Director, Education K–12 North America, Johnson Controls

“The definition of campus safety is continuing to evolve. We design spaces to provide the campus community with supportive spaces and tools so students can focus their attention on learning and growing. Our focus continues to be on addressing physical safety from threats like intruders or weather events. We are investigating ways to address mental health and comfort with tools such as trauma-informed design in a participatory, empathic approach.”
- Susan Pruchnicki, FAIA LEED AP ID+C, Principal-in-Charge, Bond Architects, Inc.

“Most of the items on your suggested list I think will be business as usual with some change, but nothing unusually significant. I think automation in several focus areas will increase; floor cleaning robots, robot mowers, construction prefabrication, etc.

“I think Safety and Disaster Response will become a focus. I see more discussions as campuses look to address first amendment rights, environmental resilience, and mental health issues more comprehensively. Unfortunately, I think this will be driven by necessity as incidents arise. Hopefully, more institutions will think proactively this year about this, too.

“I think Artificial Intelligence will be a buzzword. I see its use becoming ubiquitous—yet incorrect—in marketing and promotional materials. I think this year we will see owners, architects, and contractors looking at what is available and some will start to see real benefits. This will take resources to weed through the hype and understand what and how AI can be applied appropriately. We will eventually become more savvy in this realm, but I think this year will see many jump on board too early, some waiting to see what others do and what sticks, and few really taking time to understand it well and apply it successfully. Things are changing fast, and I think there are definitely tools out there that add benefits that we can take advantage of right now. I hope we will see some customization so AI tools can be used more effectively for construction/design specific tasks.”
- Robert R. Bell, Jr., NCARB; University Architect/Director of Planning, Architecture, and Engineering; Miami University

“School safety and security remains a key focus area for school campuses across the country. A realistic prediction for 2024 in school safety and security is more about enhancing and refining what already exists, with gradual steps towards more advanced systems. Schools will focus on improving current technologies, protocols, and collaborations, balancing the need for better security with budgetary and practical constraints.

  • Incremental Adoption of AI-Powered Surveillance: Schools will start to integrate basic AI features like motion detection or crowd analysis into their surveillance systems, enhancing security with smarter technology.
  • Upgraded Traditional Access Control Systems: Expect a move towards more secure keycard or smartphone-based access systems, with improved security features like enhanced encryption.
  • Refined Emergency Response Protocols: There will be a focus on updating and improving existing emergency protocols, with better communication tools and more efficient evacuation plans and drills.
  • Enhanced Focus on Mental Health Resources: Schools will gradually expand mental health support, including hiring more counselors and creating wellness areas, particularly in campuses with space availability due to declining enrollment.
  • Collaborative Efforts with Local Authorities: Enhanced collaboration with local law enforcement and emergency services through shared training and planning will be a key focus, aiming for a more integrated approach to campus safety.
  • Safety Education in Curriculum: Integration of safety education into the curriculum will be a priority, covering topics like safety best practices, emergency response, and digital safety.
  • Utilization of Existing Technologies for Student Safety: Schools will encourage the use of existing technologies, like smartphones, for safety purposes, leveraging them for emergency alerts and reporting systems.”

- Hal Hart, PreK-12 Principal in Charge, HMC Architects