What Is an Intelligent School Building & How Will It Improve Student Learning?
Commercial and private buildings account for more than 39 percent of energy consumption in the U.S., reports the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). K-12 schools are included in the breakdown of energy consumption costs among commercial facilities. Energy use derives from heating, water use, wastewater disposal, and electrical systems, but all types of energy use have inefficiencies. These areas of value leakage contribute to higher energy costs for society, but intelligent buildings, including intelligent school buildings, overcome these obstacles and enhance sustainable practices. School leaders need to understand the challenges with existing school buildings, the standard functions of intelligent school buildings and their impact on students.
The Challenge With Aging School Buildings
The biggest problem with today’s schools is their age and condition. The average school is 40 years old, and maintenance costs continue to rise. At the same time, increasing energy rates are pushing school budgets further to the brink, and education facility managers are struggling to put out fires. There are not enough funds to handle all the needs of today's schools, and although systems and capabilities have advanced light years in terms of automation and connection, school systems remain outdated. In addition, schools form part of the global problem with energy waste and contribute most of the greenhouse gases polluting the environment. However, transforming an existing building into an intelligent school building could solve these problems.
What Exactly Is an Intelligent School Building?
An intelligent school building utilizes connected technologies to track, monitor and optimize systems to make efficient use of energy and improve occupant experiences. Improvements include improved air quality, decreased energy consumption costs, less waste and more. Installed sensors can automate lighting and HVAC system controls. Furthermore, machine learning embedded in intelligent school buildings can refine system maintenance schedules and runtime, enhancing savings and reducing total cost of ownership, notes Mark Hanson of School Planning & Management.
Intelligent Buildings' Impact on Students, Staff & More
An intelligent school building has a tremendous, positive impact on students and building occupants, as well as school budgets. An intelligent school building increases the health of students, ensures comfort through monitored temperatures and promotes learning. Intelligent buildings also decrease the facility maintenance and management budget needs by refining maintenance schedules to optimize asset life expectancy and minimize disruption to students.
For example, better management of the facility leads to proper scheduling and planning around the school schedule. Moreover, improvements to energy use lead to opportunities for reinvestment in the classroom. These investments include expansion of teacher benefits, purchase of school supplies, renovation of school facilities and even new buildings.