Elementary school

K–12 Education Environments

Resources and information on educational facilities for professionals serving the pK-12 market.


  • Outdoor Learning Spaces

    Reimagine Outdoor Spaces as Dynamic Learning Environments

    We've all heard it a million times. "Go outside and get some fresh air." Well, Mom was right, and not just about being bored on a summer afternoon. There’s solid research that shows taking the classroom outside can be a game-changer, especially when it is introduced early to our youngest learners.

  • Outdoor Spaces

    Reconnecting with Nature: Exploring the Benefits of Outdoor Learning Environments

    The concept of reconnecting with nature in schools is gaining momentum as we begin to understand the greater benefits these spaces provide within the educational framework, such as learning in multiple dimensions; academic learning; social interaction; personal development and well-being; mental, physical, and social health; creativity; and much more.

  • Campus Funding

    How These Financing Strategies Can Help Georgia School Districts Jump-Start Big Capital Projects

    With high inflation, supply shortages, and high costs of labor, the ability for district leadership to make the financing work has become more challenging. In Georgia, home to some of the nation’s largest school districts, there are numerous financing options available to schools that help them navigate these hurdles.

  • Universal Design for Learning
    Image courtesy of Studio G Architects

    Building Inclusivity: Universal Design for Learning in K–12 Education

    Approximately 15 percent of children in U.S. public schools receive special education support or services—with some states reporting numbers over 20 percent—and these figures are rapidly increasing. When considering English language learners, the numbers climb even higher. As school districts prioritize the inclusion of all learners, school design teams can support district initiatives by integrating Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into the fabric of educational environments.

  • Innovative Approaches to HVAC

    Things are Looking Up for Energy Savings, Noise Reduction, and Better Student Performance

    Schools nationwide—especially those in historically cool climates now undergoing elevated heat events—face a challenging cycle when it comes to adapting to climate-change-driven temperature extremes during the school year. Often if heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems even exist, they are nearing end of life and operating less efficiently. Facing limited budgets, schools often opt for repairs over equipment replacement even though repairs can be costly and newer systems are designed for more efficient, sustainable operation offering long-term energy and cost savings.

  • Evidence-Based Design

    Improving Test Scores & Student Well-Being: Why Education Facilities Should Prioritize Biophilic Design

    As design professionals, we know the impact our physical surroundings can have on occupants – open spaces can inspire a sense of grandiosity but create a lot of noise, certain colors feel calming while others build excitement, curved lines soften a space while straight lines add intensity. These are all well-known tenants of design, but only in the past few decades have we used science to support these claims.

  • Classroom Design

    Elevate Classroom Environments, Create Positive Learning Outcomes with Color

    Color selection for classrooms must rely on evidence-based design and principles to enhance engagement and, more importantly, support both teachers and the students in the desired outcomes for their time within classrooms and learning spaces.

  • K–12 Grants

    The Important Role of Data to Maximize Grant Funding

    Federal and state governments announce available funds to public school districts throughout the year. These are usually tens or hundreds of millions of dollars meant to help schools with infrastructure upgrades or replacements. There’s a catch to all these grants, though: Schools must apply for the funding through an oftentimes complicated and detailed application process with a strict deadline.

  • Building Blueprints

    Facility for Students with Autism and Learning Disorders Opens in Massachusetts

    Reuse of existing buildings is nothing new in Massachusetts, where three-hundred-year-old structures aren’t out of the ordinary. The renovation of older buildings to serve fresh purposes can pose a range of opportunities and challenges. Massachusetts-based construction firm Colantonio recently renovated a century-old building in Quincy, Mass., to serve as a children's special education facility.

  • ESSER Funds

    How $122 Billion in School Funding Is Fueling Nationwide Construction

    Congress appropriated an extremely large amount of funding for school projects, and the final round allocations totaled $122 billion. That’s a huge amount – about $380 per person in the U.S. This revenue came through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program and was delivered with a mandated deadline: It must be obligated by Sept. 30, 2024.

  • Predictions & Trends

    Spaces4Learning 2024 Predictions for Educational Facilities: Part 3

    We asked our readership to send us their predictions for 2024 trends in educational facilities. Across K–12 and higher-education campuses both, we asked for opinions on topics like technology, flexible learning spaces, campus safety & security, disaster response, and more. This article is the third in a three-part series compiling responses from educational professionals and vendors.

  • Predictions & Trends

    Spaces4Learning 2024 Predictions for Educational Facilities: Part 2

    We asked our readership to send us their predictions for 2024 trends in educational facilities. Across K–12 and higher-education campuses both, we asked for opinions on topics like technology, flexible learning spaces, campus safety & security, disaster response, and more. This article is the second in a three-part series compiling responses from educational professionals and vendors.

  • Healthy Schools

    Unveiling the Research-Based Benefits of Sensory Movement Pathways for Children

    Incorporating sensory movement pathways in schools can offer several benefits for students' physical, cognitive, and emotional development. These pathways are designed to engage multiple senses and provide students with a structured way to engage in physical movement throughout the day. Sensory movement pathways, also known as sensory pathways or sensory trails, have gained attention for their potential benefits in promoting children's physical, cognitive, and emotional development.

  • Sustainability

    Charge Up Your EV Infrastructure: Funding to Electrify the Campus

    The Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution is upon us. A recent analysis by EY found that EV sales will outpace all other engines three years sooner than expected. This demand will be further driven by the Inflation Reduction Act with new incentives to encourage domestic EV production and ownership. Campuses need to be ready with convenient access to fast and reliable charging stations to support students, staff, guests, and electrified fleets.

  • Building Blueprints

    Community-Driven Design for Next-Generation Learning: A Case Study of Upper Arlington High School

    “Your voice matters” defined the Upper Arlington, Ohio, High School master planning and design process, and it was the catalyst behind the project to improve aging facilities in this high-performing district.

  • Designing for SEL

    An Open-Door Policy: Designing for Social-Emotional Learning

    While these design goals sought to balance the various needs of a school, they also supported social-emotional learning (SEL), which focuses on fostering social and emotional skills within school curricula. SEL can take many forms, but it generally adheres to five central competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.

  • Campus Design

    Delivering Successful Career & Technical Education (CTE) Spaces that Spark a Sense of Curiosity

    Creating successful spaces to spark curiosity, collaboration and confidence for students starts with several key programming and design considerations.

  • Theaters/Performing Arts

    Designing for Theatrical and Performing Arts Curriculum in Schools

    Getting a student out from behind a desk; having them work with others in a self-directed way; allowing them to explore and express themselves and make things; having them learn skills that can be applied in life and in possible career paths—those are goals behind today’s push to change how students learn, to get them to want to come to school every day. Education in the theatrical and performing arts promises much of these.

  • Storm Shelters

    Storm Shelters’ Growing Importance in Schools

    Reliable storm shelters must include the engineering necessary to ensure safety, comply with required guidelines and create comfort during emergencies.

  • Healthy Schools

    Three Truths About Meeting Sustainability Mandates in K–12 Schools

    Today’s K–12 leaders are tasked with everything from adhering to rigorous academic standards to implementing operational procedures to building healthy school communities, and for many, sustainability unintentionally falls to the bottom of the priority list. Further, the cost of taking on green initiatives is on the rise, making it even more of a challenge for financially strapped school districts to meet sustainability expectations and commitments.

  • Healthy Schools

    Hygiene and Cleanliness are Top-of-Mind this Back-to-School Season

    Summer is flying by, which means a new school year is around the corner. As students begin to fill the hallways, so does an inevitable influx of germs and illnesses. A successful school year starts with creating a safe and healthy environment to welcome students back. Prepare your building for a new school year with these hygiene and cleaning recommendations.

  • Campus Security

    Best Practices for Ballistically Protecting Your School

    Ballistically protecting a school can be a daunting and complicated task. Focusing on practical best practices streamlines the process and makes your efforts more effective.

  • Indoor Air Quality

    Your School’s Unseen Health Threat: Indoor Air Quality

    With the start of a new school year, the health & wellness of students, teachers, and school district employees has become—more than ever—a top priority and concern.

  • Emerging Technology

    AMR Scrubbers Free Up Staff for More Human-Centered Duties

    Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) are the future; Isaac Asimov and the rest of classic sci-fi have been telling us this for decades.

  • Campus Audio
    Campus Audio

    Defending the Campus Perimeter with Audio

    How can audio from intercoms and IP speakers play a role with perimeter security?

  • Building Blueprints

    Case Study: Modernizing a 1960s L.A. School with Biophilic Design

    The client was Grover Cleveland Charter High School, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District in Los Angeles, Calif. The challenge, modernizing a 1960s-era, single-story school to double its square footage to accommodate additional students and to follow biophilic design goals that would benefit students and foster collaboration and social interaction.

  • Active Learning Spaces

    Bringing STEAM to Life in the K–12 Classroom

    What if you could apply crucial STEAM concepts in a way that engages students like never before?

  • Learning Space Design

    Designing Learning Spaces for Generation Alpha

    Generation Alpha is the class of digital natives born after 2010—currently learning, exploring, and growing in PK–12 environments. What makes them different than past generations of learners? Technology has been ingrained into them as part of their childhoods.

  • HVAC
    ESSER Funds for HVAC

    How ESSER Funds Can Help with HVAC Upgrades

    The importance of HVAC units in schools was brought to the forefront when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the early parts of 2020. The federal government also took notice as they issued approximately $190 billion in COVID relief funds through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER).

  • Building Blueprints

    Using Participatory Design to Create a Student-Centered Library

    The school district of Clayton High School prides itself on a commitment to a rich, rigorous academic culture, and wanted to offer its students a state-of-the-art library that reflected those priorities. The question was: What does a 21st-century teenager want out of a library these days, anyway?

  • person using calculator across from someone using a computer

    How Schools Can Maximize COVID Relief Funds

    ESSER and EANS funds are designed to help schools reopen quickly and safely, as well as address the months of significant learning loss by U.S. students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only now are experts beginning to understand the full scope of learning loss brought on by a year-plus of the pandemic – and initial reports are worrying.

  • Schools Reopen with Federal Dollars

  • Building Blueprints
    students sitting in auditorium area

    New Spaces for a New Era of Learning

  • Editor's Note

    The Slow Return to Normalcy

  • Indoor Air Quality in Schools Is Necessary

    It is a well-known fact that the environment affects human performance, both physically and mentally. This is especially true for students, who are impacted by the quality of air in their learning environment.

  • Discovery High School exterior

    Discovery High School

    Grand Prize 2021 Education Design Showcase

  • adult helping child wash their hands

    It's Everyone's Role To Keep Our Schools Healthy, Safe and Open

    Standard hygiene practices, like proper handwashing, are more important than ever.

  • Security & Planning
    Children running in a school hallway

    Preparing Teachers and Staff for an Active Shooter Event

  • HVAC & IAQ
    man cleaning ventilation screen

    Healthy Air Must Flow

  • May 2011 killer EF-5 tornado that hit Joplin, MO

    Tornadoes, Shelters and Tubes, Oh My!

    Twister. Funnel. Whirlwind. A tornado by any other name is still considered the deadliest and most destructive natural disaster on earth. Occurring on all continents except Antarctica, tornadoes have both terrified and fascinated mankind for centuries. The U.S. averages almost 1,300 tornadoes per year, more than all other continents combined. How do we protect ourselves when a tornado strikes? It is this question that has driven architects, engineers and the construction industry to develop codes and guidelines such as ICC 500 and FEMA P-361. These guidelines, at least in part, will help to ensure the proper construction of tornado shelters in order to save lives.

  • Design Guidelines
    small classroom with three children sitting on puffs

    The "Human" in Human-Centered, Evidence-Based Design for Education

  • IAQ
    air purification

    Reimagining Air Purification in Classrooms After COVID-19

  • IAQ
    HVAC fans

    Mitigating the Risk of COVID-19 and Improving Indoor Air Quality in Schools

  • COVID-19 and Schools
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    CDC Revises Social Distancing Guidelines in Schools to 3 Feet

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Friday, March 19, that it is relaxing social distancing requirements for students returning to school for in-person learning. The organization has determined that students wearing masks in a classroom environment can be spaced just 3 feet apart.

  • Cybersecurity

    Audits Reveal Cybersecurity Weaknesses in New York School Districts

    The Office of the New York State Comptroller has completed audits on three school districts in the state. The audits uncovered that the districts have neglected to follow some crucial cybersecurity policies, leaving them potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks.

  • Health Policy

    CDC Releases Updated Guidance Plan for Reopening Schools

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an updated guide on how K-12 schools around the country can take steps to safely reopen—for good.

  • Podcast
    Schools In Focus: Talking Campus Security with Mitch McKinley

    Schools In Focus: Talking Campus Security with Mitch McKinley

  • Podcast
    Schools In Focus podcast logo and Mike Wolf and Ron Wendorski

    Schools In Focus: Indoor Air Quality

  • Media Center
    Midland Media Center, courtesy of Mien Company

    5 Tips for Modernizing a K-12 Media Center

    Here’s how Midland School District overhauled the media centers and turned them into central activity hubs for the schools.

  • Cleaning & Maintenance
    Someone with blue rubber gloves wiping down a desk.

    Does Your School Maintenance Plan Pass the Test?

    Although you set your initial school maintenance plan during the late summer months, now is a good time to evaluate its effectiveness, find opportunities to refine your processes, and make sure you and your teams are doing all you can to safeguard students and staff if and when they enter your doors in person.