Ideas for Improving a School and How to Start
Schools are struggling with many things. A big issue they are facing is how to improve school facilities. However, while there are many ideas for improving a school, there is no one way that suits every school. One thing is certain: there are many reasons to renovate a school, and school facilities are deteriorating and being replaced at a much slower rate than they have been in the past.
There have been numerous attempts to solve this issue, but so far nothing has seemed to work. As a result, many school systems across the country have taken drastic measures such as merging or closing schools to save money.
Hence, schools of all types are faced with an overcrowding of students, poor learning environments, lack of adequate spaces for learning activities or faculty offices, outdated technologies (i.e., internet connections), and inadequate/outdated equipment.
Can a school be modernized and upgraded without breaking the bank?
The need for upgrading and modernizing school facilities
The need for school modernization is a pressing one. In the age of globalization, technical advancements, and economic competition, schools are not competing effectively with other alternatives if they do not have up-to-date facilities.
Schools need to be modernized with new equipment and new technologies to provide quality education. Remember, the quality of a school’s facilities is one of the most important factors to parents when choosing where their children will attend.
The need for improving school facilities is becoming more urgent. School buildings are getting old, the designs are outdated, and the spaces are not conducive to learning. Older buildings cost more to maintain, heat, cool, and light. Indeed, around $6 billion are spent on energy each year in schools. It has been calculated that 25% of this could be saved.
A recent study found that 54% of U.S. districts need to update or replace multiple building systems in at least half their schools. The most common problems include heating, ventilation, and cooling systems.
Increasing amounts of school funding are used to simply keep the building functioning – this is all money that should be better utilized on providing actual education.
5 Ideas for improving a school on a budget
Even schools that are on tight budgets can improve their facilities at a low cost. The secret is to think creatively and decide how your money can be best spent – what is the return on your investment through cost savings on energy, for example. Here are five ways that all schools can deliver improvements to their buildings at low cost:
Add air conditioning. An air conditioner is an easy way to cool indoor spaces in the summer when the temperatures rise outside, keeping your students and staff comfortable.
Use renewable energy and improve energy efficiency in schools. You could upgrade your building with solar panels, which provide clean energy for your school and save you money on utility bills in the long run.
Upgrade lighting. Upgrading lighting is another way to save money and create a more modern feel in your space that will set it apart from buildings that have not been updated recently.
Create outdoor spaces that are equipped with natural features like trees and plants for children to be able to walk around in an environment that is healthy for them. These can also be used to produce food and maintain constant indoor temperatures (for example, by providing shade in summer).
Update the windows, to save energy wastage, helping to heat in the winter and cool in the summer.
Facility assessment – the first step to improving a school
Facility assessment is an important part of the design process. It helps designers to make informed decisions on what they should include in their facilities and what factors they should consider during design.
The objective is to identify risks, hazards, and areas where improvement can be made. It is important to assess everything in the building including the structure, fire protection system, air quality, safety features, energy consumption, and so on.
Facility assessments often look at factors such as:
The age of the building and foundation
The size and location of the building
The number of people using the building
Possible environmental hazards
Building codes for fire codes, plumbing standards, etc.
The assessment will also consider how the school building and any modernization or extension to it might be impacted by external factors such as traffic, population density, and existing development/infrastructure networks.
Most importantly, the needs of the school and its pupils will be fully considered – including current and future needs as impacted by local urban expansion, community demographics, the building’s features, and the amenities required.
You need an architect for your school facilities project
What is your budget?
That’s the first question most architects will ask when discussing your school building project with you. Budgeting and coming up with a plan for success is the first step that architects take. They will create an estimate on how much money it will take to complete your project and what changes they may need to make to give you the best value.
There are many different things that can affect how much it costs to refurbish, modernize, or expand a school. These include where it is located, what materials will be used, and any unique features or requirements for this specific project.
An architect can guide you through the process of developing a budget so you know exactly what is included in your project, and they can also help you figure out if there are any alternatives that may reduce your costs or save money in the longer run.
At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including the schools that serve these communities. To learn more, contact ACB Consulting.