Explaining the Components and Indices of Environmental Sustainability in Iran’s Educational Spaces, with an emphasis on Green Educational Building Evaluation Systems

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Architecture, Mashhad Beranch, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad,Iran

2 Department of Architecture,Shahrud Branch,Islamic Azad University, Shahrud , Iran


Sustainability has become one of the major concerns of development over the past few years. The emergence of several environmental crises has created many problems for governments and forced them to identify effective factors and frameworks. Construction has also been one of the most important factors that affect environment. This has led architects seek new solutions to provide a desirable human environment.
Although educational spaces account for less urban land per capita than other uses, the move towards the establishment of sustainable schools is a tangible way of achieving the goals of sustainable development and the development of environmental culture. Sustainable and green construction of schools can encourage and educate students more effectively since students spend about half of their time in schools and can develop these approaches in the future, both in individual and family behavior and in their careers.
Hence, this strategy can be more effective with environmental education in harmoniously constructed spaces. Finally, another aspect of the importance of creating and paying attention to green schools is a new approach to establish schools in the natural environment, which is on the agenda of many developed countries. Therefore, paying particular attention to the sustainable design of schools and the creation of appropriate environmental conditions should be the main factor in physical development.
The need to address this issue has led many studies to take place in advanced countries. Researchers have introduced several criteria for assessing sustainable schools, which also have a logical convergence. These criteria have been introduced as "Green School Assessment Systems" in different countries.
The study of green school assessment systems in the world and a review of existing documents and practices in Iran suggest that, despite the efforts made, it is unfortunate that there is no system for the design, operation and evaluation of sustainable schools. Also, sustainability components and indicators of these schools have not been formulated based on cultural, social and economic conditions. This has led to the fact that, despite the importance of constructing green schools in the leading countries, Iran has given more attention to environmental education. In these small number of schools that are currently active as green schools, individual education has been emphasized. The existence of a comprehensive Environmental Charter (2015) and the stated objectives also confirm this issue. Therefore, the issue of identifying the components and criteria of architectural design of sustainable schools in Iran is one of the topics that although the necessity of addressing it is clear to everyone, but no serious action has been taken so far.
Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to propose components and indicators of environmental sustainability design in schools in Iran, seeking to answer the questions of what are the global standards of designing sustainable educational spaces, what are their components and indicators, and how they can be used in designing educational spaces in Iran? The research method is descriptive-analytical and a combination of field, content analysis, and comparison is applied. Data collection method is library-documentary.
Accordingly, in order to do theoretical studies, we investigate the research background, similar studies in the world and Iran.
Having reviewed the research literature, some accounts of sustainable schools and their characteristics are presented. It is concluded that green schools are schools come up with better learning environments for learners, as well as savings in resources and spending. Besides encompassing different aspects of sustainability, the schools themselves are means of sustainable education. The advantages of designing such schools are financial, environmental, and human. In these schools, environmental education is carried out both through individual (human) education and education via the environment. Given the broad scope of the present research, education via the environment was in the spotlight.
In the next phase, the research conducted on the most valid systems of green building evaluations was reviewed. .The studies conducted, the review of the performance of the most important and valid evaluation systems of green buildings in the world and proposed evaluation systems for green educational spaces and their comparison with each other led to the identification and introduction of the most valid evaluation systems of green educational spaces. These systems include LEED, BREEAM, CASBEE, and DGNB. Following the introduction of the foregoing systems, their components, indicators, as well as scoring method were presented. Next, an analogy was made between the four systems in accordance with four parameters of their effect, evaluation process, scoring criteria, the least score obtained and criteria categorization. Eventually, scoring systems of LEED and BREEAM were the most valid international systems in terms of evaluation of green educational spaces.
In order to determine the convergence and difference of LEED and BREEAM evaluation systems, their components and indicators were compared with each other. The results of comparing the components and indicators of the two selected systems led to 7 component and 46 indices. Considering their importance, they can be used as components and indicators affecting environmental sustainability of educational spaces in Iran.
Considering that some of the components and indicators proposed are under the local and climatic conditions of the region or country and should be made localized, the indicators can be categorized into three broad categories:
1. Indicators that are not affected by local and climatic factors and are applicable and evaluated in all countries according to international standards;
2. Indicators that should be determined for each individual country under the effect of local and climatic factors and then used in the assessment;
3. Indicators that are sub-components of innovation in design and, depending on the designer's point of view, can provide solutions for improving environmental quality and energy efficiency.
Since the present study focuses on the components and indicators of environmental sustainability of educational spaces, suggestions regarding the localization of indicators under the climatic conditions are presented.
Since Iran has different climatic zones, attention to the climatic conditions of the area can have a significant impact on the sustainable design of the building. The most important affective climatic factors can be temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind, and amount of sunlight. To determine how these components affect the environmental sustainability indicators, depending on the area in question, meteorology stations’ data and related analysis can be used. In addition, the impact of factors such as: latitude, distances and proximity to the sea level, vegetation cover and soil type, etc., should also be considered on the components and indicators.
On the other hand, the impact of climatic conditions on educational spaces is different due to differences in the type of operation and the time of use in comparison to other uses. In these spaces, the time or pattern of occupation and density in the space, which are considered as the main features of the educational spaces, are different from ordinary spaces. These places also have a significant internal load, which affects the thermal needs of space.
Therefore, in order to create optimal conditions for the quality of the indoor environment as well as saving resources, it is recommended that as other countries use International Building Codes (IBC), AIA, USGBC,… for localization, Iran should also use publications approved by the country's management and planning organizations and the renovation, development and equipping of schools, which is provided for educational spaces as well as standards for housing and urban planning, the country's engineering organization, the environmental protection agency, and all organizations that are somehow involved in the construction and conservation of resources. Due to the fact that some of the cases have not been addressed in the approved circulars and magazines or have been paid less, reference materials can be used. In this way, the items proposed in foreign regulations and rules are compared with similar cases in Iran and domestic items are used depending on local conditions.


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