Balancing Sustainability, Clean Air, Healthy Learning Interiors, and Structural Safety when Designing and Building Schools

EPA Grant Number: R835634
Title: Balancing Sustainability, Clean Air, Healthy Learning Interiors, and Structural Safety when Designing and Building Schools
Investigators: Holliday, Lisa M. , Floyd, Evan , Johnson, David L , Keesee, Marguerite , Lynch, Robert A. , Magzamen, Sheryl , Wachter, Hans-Peter , Wang, Jun
Institution: University of Oklahoma , Colorado State University , University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2018 (Extended to October 31, 2019)
Project Amount: $984,175
RFA: Healthy Schools: Environmental Factors, Children’s Health and Performance, and Sustainable Building Practices (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Children's Health , Health


The objective of the study is to determine how 1) sustainability 2) air quality 3) healthy learning interiors and 4) structural safety affect one another and ultimately impacts student performance and health outcomes.  For example, when increasing the structural hardness of a building by adding tornado resistance what is given up in sustainability, air quality and healthy learning environments?  Each of these design items has been studied and characterized individually but decisions makers often have to choose between them not understanding the consequences of their decisions.  The purpose of this study is to provide decision makers with an evidence based tool for balancing these four criteria in an effort to achieve the best outcomes for students.


The team will study recently renovated schools in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area in the state of Oklahoma.  As part of a district wide school revitalization project known as MAPS for Kids,  a wide variety of schools have been renovated or newly built.  These schools vary greatly in their design spectrum representing sustainability, air quality management, structural safety, and healthy learning environments.  Some are hardened structures for tornado safety while others were designed with sustainability in mind, and yet others were designed with the learning environment as the foremost criteria.  The team will quantify the interaction of four design factors and their effect on learning outcomes.

Expected Results:

The team will publish an evidence based tool that outlines in clear language the quantified relationship between sustainability, air quality, healthy learning environments, and structural safety.  This tool will help local school officials reach informed decisions regarding the trade-offs related to building features.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 16 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 3 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

sustainable construction materials, built environment, sustainable schools, architectural design, decision making, holistic design, indoor air quality, particulates, VOC, mold, IAQ, IEQ, formaldehyde

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • 2018 Progress Report