SYDNEY, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- The New South Wales (NSW) government in Australia is urging classrooms across the state to take a greener approach to infrastructure and design.
Launching the Environmental Design in Schools Guide at the inaugural School Infrastructure NSW Sustainability Forum in Sydney on Monday, the initiative aims to combine all aspects of infrastructure, design and the education sector, to create classrooms more in harmony with their environment.
According to NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes, the move is not only targeted to improve sustainability and reduce cost, but also focused on helping children learn.
"Sustainable design is not only great for the environment, but can also improve teaching and learning outcomes and help frame the way that students think about the environment," he said.
"Small changes to a school's design and operations to make it more environmentally friendly can also drive down maintenance costs, so there's a benefit to the bottom line too."
For example, internal figures from the guide indicate that students felt more energized when given greater exposure to natural light, translating into a 20 percent rise in mathematics performance and a 26 percent increase in reading ability.
"Simple strategies such as opening windows on both sides of a classroom can also improve comfort levels, by encouraging air flow and pushing hotter air outside," NSW Acting Government Architect Olivia Hyde explained.
"Outside we can provide trees to reduce playground temperature and also offer more shaded areas for student play and learning."
Part of a 6-billion-Australian dollar (4.25 billion U.S. dollars) plan to upgrade 170 schools across the state over the next four years, there have already been a number of inroads made to reduce the cost of electricity.
Around 40,000 solar panels have been installed on the roofs of 1,432 schools, with 50,000 energy-saving LED lights also put in to further reduce emissions.
"We have heard from principals and school communities that they are keen to make a difference and this new resource will offer ideas for making sustainable changes in the building or running of their school," Stokes said.