On the July 5th episode of WESA’s The Confluence, Vivian Loftness spoke about the impacts of climate change and the growing importance of sustainable architecture, especially in Pittsburgh.
A LEED Fellow and AIA Fellow, Dr. Loftness serves as an architecture professor and co-director for the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics at Carnegie Mellon University. She is also a former board member of Green Building Alliance.
In her interview on The Confluence, Dr. Loftness was commenting on how recent events in local schools ought to remind building stakeholders and decision-makers to invest in the places where our children learn. During the last week of school before summer break, Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) operated on a half day schedule because the school buildings were too hot and temperatures that week were expected to go above 90 degrees. Because many schools in the PPS District do not have air conditioning, indoor temperatures for students and teachers could have escalated above 100 degrees.
Climate change is causing interesting weather patterns, and as temperatures continue to rise, schools (and other buildings) will need to adjust accordingly. In addition to schools in the PPS District not having AC units, Loftness noted that many tend to have older and inefficient windows and use dark colored roofs which can all contribute to unbearable heat conditions in the buildings. Due to a lack of funding in many school districts, facilities departments make do with the resources they have - but Loftness suggests that investments for school weatherization projects should be a high priority for all government officials.
“Buildings are incredibly important to the health and the performance of kids and teachers”, said Loftness. While all building stakeholders need to consider sustainable design, construction and operating practices for health and climate reasons, our schools must be a priority. Healthy and high-performing schools can save districts money over time, improve student health, learning, and productivity – and contribute to climate mitigation and adaptation solutions.
GBA engages and supports K-12 school districts in Western Pennsylvania to capture federal and state resources for these purposes. Our work includes educating stakeholders about the importance of green, healthy, and high-performance building practices; assessing and developing building improvement project scopes of work; engaging service providers; identifying and applying for funding resources; and writing letters of support. If your school needs technical assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to set up a consultation.
You can access Vivian Loftness’s interview on The Confluence at the link below: