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Research shows that the way school buildings are designed has a major impact on learning. Conventional school buildings are not good enough for institutions like Cardinal Newman High School (CNHS) with higher than average educational goals. The conventional design process is not good enough either. AIM Associates, with our distinguished team of engineering consultants and network of researchers from the national labs and universities, are applying to our school projects the rigors of science tempered with experience to the broad range of building design issues. The synergistic results of the integrated design team process result in high performance school buildings.

The beauty of this process is that any or all aspects of the program can be optimized including building function, structural and mechanical systems, daylighting, energy efficiency, green considerations, indoor air quality, value/budget, schedule, etc. The recognition that better design leads to better learning environments is growing in California and across the nation. Our projects feature the main high performance school features addressed in the Collaborative For High Performance Schools (CHPS). It will also address many of the green issues of the LEED (Leadership In Energy And Environmental Design) rating system. AIM Associates and all of the members of our consulting teams have LEED Accredited Professionals on staff.

Integrated Design Team Process: Good Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and good daylighting are examples of goals that can only be effectively achieved with the cooperative efforts of the whole design team. These goals also require the on going diligence by the school administrators, teaching and maintenance staff.

Good indoor air quality contributes to a favorable learning environment for students, productivity for teachers and staff, and a sense of comfort, health, and well-being for school occupants. These combine to assist a school in its core mission—educating children. Good IAQ can and must be achieved by careful selection of construction material, detailing, and ventilation design without sacrificing energy efficiency. Proper ventilation design and maintenance will increase outdoor air ratios above code minimums but only when needed for IAQ. For example during and after construction provide adequate heating and ventilation to cure and allow off gassing of construction materials. Provide adequate air flushing time before occupancy with maximum outdoor air of one or two months (two weeks absolute minimum) depending on the toxicity of materials. Then provide flushing of the air after vacations, weekends, floor waxing/shampooing maintenance, etc. The ventilation rates must be carefully tailored to the occupancy population and schedule.

Carbon dioxide sensors will allow outside air ventilation to be increased above code minimums during maximum occupancy while dramatically reducing ventilation and saving energy when the space is at low occupancy.

It is generally agreed that poor indoor air can adversely affect employee health and productivity. These costs to industry have been estimated to be in the "tens of billions of dollars per year" —Report to Congress on Indoor Air Quality.

Good IAQ is especially important in schools. Children may have a special vulnerability to certain toxic substances, the systems of a child’s body are still developing making children less able to metabolize, detoxify, and excrete some toxic substances than adults.

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