Sustainable schools are the ideal learning environments

School buildings are places where culture is created, explored and enjoyed by all children. In this context, schools should not only be seen as the delivery vehicle for learning curricula, but also evaluated for their architectural and spatial values. This is because schools are, through their structure, three-dimensional learning environments, literally shaping the learning and education that they house.

In his publication “A city is not a tree” by Christopher Alexander, he explains that a city is more than the sum of its parts and in the same way a school building is more than a school.


In recent years, sustainability has become the major interest of architecture. In this context, “sustainability” means using renewable energy sources in the processes of constructing and using a building. In recent years, designing schools according to sustainable architecture criteria has became more important as public awareness about environmental sustainability has grown and these concerns have thus been increasingly applied to the business of designing and constructing school buildings.

General criteria of sustainable architecture can be summed up as:

  • To minimise the primary cost of buildings
  • To prefer natural and local materials for construction
  • To give importance to the reuse and recycling of materials and resources
  • To use renewable energy sources to produce energy in the building (natural ventilation, using sun light etc.)

All these criteria aim to minimise damage to the environment, and point to designing buildings in harmony with the natural environment. The form of buildings, numbers of storeys, the spatial organisation and interior space order is also important in sustainable design.

Sustainable schools

Lastly, and the most importantly, sustainable schools can be seen as 3d textbooks, written for teaching children about the environment and environmentally friendly design principles. By building sustainable schools, it is possible to teach children about the whole concept of sustainable living.

Author: Dr. Burcu Gülay Taşçi

Photo Credit: A Sustainable School from Bali

Author: Burcu Gülay Taşçı

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