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Division of the Sate Architect

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Flex Your Power!
 The Division of the State Architect's Sustainable Schools Resource


Siting is one of the most important issues to grapple with when planning a new school building. The siting of your facility will impact every aspect of the school, from the direct environmental impact, to energy consumption, to indoor environmental quality. School siting involves both the decision of where to put your school and how you choose to orient it on the site.

Several issues need to be addressed when siting a new school. These include, but are not limited to, transportation, greenfield impacts, endangered species and wetlands concerns, existing pollution on the site, stormwater management and orientation of the building for passive heating, natural ventilation, and daylighting.

Further Subtopics

Existing Site Pollution
Greenfield Development (Environmental Siting)
Building Orientation
Heat Islands and Outdoor Surfaces
Stormwater Management
Safety & Security

Featured Resources

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
(Best Practices Manual Vol. 2, Site Planning Section.) CHPS aims to facilitate the design of high performance schools in California - environments that are not only resource efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit and contain the amenities needed for a quality education. CHPS has developed a set of Best Practices Manuals (available at to create a new generation of high performance school facilities in California.

Department of Toxics - Brownfields Remediation
A resource describing the opportunity that can be potentially beneficial by developing a brownfield - an already constructed, but dormant area of the community - by detoxifying and renovating those brownfields, rather than develop virgin greenfields.

National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities
Siting section. NCEF's resource list of links, books, and journal articles on K-12 school siting, including examples of state selection criteria and resources on environmental issues and site organization.

California Department of Education - School Facilities Planning Division
Planning Division consultants and analysts assist California's 58 counties with long-range master planning for new school facilities. This web page provides information on school siting, transportation, building process, energy efficiency and much more.

Stormwater Manager's Resource Center
Informative Resource for the subject of Stormwater management; topics covered include Land Planning, Land Conservation, Aquatic Buffers, Better Site Design, Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater Management Practices, Stream Restoration Practices, Non-Stormwater Discharges, and Pollution Prevention.

New Schools, Better Neighborhoods (NSBN)
This organization promotes the community joint use of schools by way of designing smaller school facilities that can build upon and accommodate existing community land and facilities to save on the time, money, land, and other resources used to duplicate functions elsewhere.

Department of Toxic Substances Control - Schools Property Evaluation and Cleanup Division
DTSC's Schools Property Evaluation and Cleanup Division is responsible for assessing, investigating and cleaning-up proposed school property sites. The Division ensures that selected properties are free of contamination or, if the properties were previously contaminated, that they have been cleaned-up to a level that protects the students and faculty who will occupy the new school. All proposed school sites that will receive State funding for acquisition or construction are required to go through a rigorous environmental review and cleanup process under DTSC's oversight.

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