New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and the New Jersey Schools Construction Corporation (SCC) have entered into an agreement to establish the nation’s first center to provide technical design and construction data to build high performance 21st century schools throughout the state.
The New Jersey High Performance Schools Information Center (SIC) will help the SCC fulfill its commitment to build the very best schools in the country and to achieve Governor James E. McGreevey’s goal to create schools that are “… modern facilities of the 21st century, combining all of these features: the best possible learning environment, the most energy-efficient design, the most environmentally sustainable systems, and the highest community relevance …”
The newly established High Performance Information Center will allow the SCC - a subsidiary of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority--to take advantage of the knowledge base and research capabilities of the New Jersey School of Architecture (NJSOA) at NJIT. The SCC, a division of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, has been charged with implementing the country’s largest school construction program.
The Schools Information Center is based in NJIT’s Center for Architecture and Building Science Research at the New Jersey School of Architecture (NJSOA). Deane Evans, a noted expert on building high-performance schools, directs the center.
Officials feel this talent-laden synergy will serve as a national model as well as a visionary advancement toward the construction of 21st century educational facilities on an unprecedented scale for the benefit of students, teachers and the community at large.
“The timing couldn’t be better for this initiative and our partnership with NJIT,” said Donald Moore, the SCC’s Managing Director of Design and Construction, noting that the SCC is in the process of completing a $660 million program of health and safety upgrades at 344 schools in New Jersey.
“We’re now entering the new construction phase, and it’s time for the heavy lifting where we’ll be designing and building more than 400 new facilities, including substantial renovations and additions,” Moore continued. “We’re committed to making every one of these projects a high performing school for the 21st century and we’re going to work closely with NJIT to make sure we achieve this goal.”
“A high performance facility is healthy, productive and educationally effective for the students and teachers who use it,” said Evans. “It is cost effective for the taxpayers who fund it; and a sustainable asset for the community where it is located. And these basic characteristics provide real benefits for the citizens of New Jersey.
“For example,” Evans noted, “a lot of natural daylight - a hallmark of a high performance school - has been shown to improve test scores and increase the speed of learning in elementary school students on the order of 20 to 25%. This is just one way that the school building itself can actually improve the productivity of its occupants.”
A high performance facility can also save money. The energy efficiency features embedded in a 21st century school can reduce energy costs up to 40%. In a typical 60,000 square foot school, whose energy costs are $1 per square foot per year, this can amount to $24,000 in savings - money that can be spent on books, field trips or other resources; rather than simply heating, cooling or lighting the building.
“Students learn faster and have more available resources at the same time - all because they’re going to school in a well-designed, high performance facility. A win-win situation if ever there was one,” noted Evans.
To ensure all new facilities are “schools for the 21st century,” the SCC has established a specific set of high performance goals for all its design teams. It has also implemented a flexible management program to drive the teams toward these goals, while allowing them - and their school districts - the freedom to achieve the goals in their own way.
The Schools Information Center will provide training and resources to the design teams so they have all the information they need to create high performance schools. The Center will also monitor progress in the field and provide feedback so that the program, and the schools it creates, is continually improved.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the parents, teachers and the kids in our state,” SCC’s Moore concluded. “We’re determined to make the most of it and, in the process, to set a new national standard for the design, construction and operation of school facilities.”
The SCC, under the educational Facilities and Construction Financing Act, is responsible for financing, designing and constructing all of the school facilities projects in the State's 30 special needs districts and in districts which receive 55 percent or more in state funding for education.)
For further details, contact Kevin McElroy, New Jersey Schools Construction Company at (609) 943-4307 or (609) 240-2287, or visit the SCC website at www.njscc.com <http://www.njscc.com> or the NJHPSIC website at www.njhighperformanceschools.org <http://www.njhighperformanceschools.org>.