When it comes to designing and constructing educational spaces, choosing the right materials is crucial. There has been a growing trend towards incorporating wood into school construction and design in recent years. Wood is a versatile and sustainable material that offers numerous benefits, from its aesthetic appeal to its positive impact on the learning environment. In this blog post, we will explore why using wood in school construction and design is good, highlighting its eco-friendliness, health benefits, and ability to foster creativity and inspiration.
Wood, when sourced responsibly, is fully sustainable. It locks away CO2, providing the opportunity for carbon neutral and in some case carbon negative buildings. It can be less expensive to construct and has lower embodied energy and better environmental traits than other standard structural materials.
One of the remarkable benefits of using wood in school construction is its positive impact on indoor air quality. Wood naturally regulates humidity levels by absorbing and releasing moisture, contributing to a healthier indoor environment. Unlike some synthetic materials, wood does not emit harmful chemicals or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can adversely affect air quality and students’ health. Schools can provide students and staff with a safe and healthy learning environment by choosing wood.
Acoustics play a crucial role in educational spaces, as they significantly impact learning and concentration. Wood possesses excellent acoustic properties, absorbing sound and reducing echo and background noise. This feature helps create a quieter and more focused environment, allowing students and teachers to communicate effectively and enhancing the overall learning experience.
The therapeutic effects of trees and nature are well understood outside our buildings, yet inside our buildings wood and other natural materials can be used to create healthy, enriched, biophilic environments.
Wood establishes a direct connection with nature, creating a nurturing and calming atmosphere. Incorporating wood in school design helps foster biophilic principles, stimulating students’ senses and inspiring creativity. As more emphasis is put on healthy materials, wood will be an increasingly relevant material for its sustainability and physiological attributes.
Studies have shown that educational settings built from or containing wooden features can directly and positively impact children’s physical and mental health. An Austrian study by Joanneum Research in 2008 compared a classroom of mainly solid wood materials with a standard classroom. Measurements were taken of the health benefits of 52 children. The study showed that the children’s heart rates in the wooden classroom were significantly reduced. There was a decreased perception of stress and the children were visibly more relaxed. The wooden environment also had a positive impact on their performance.
Choosing wood as a primary material for school construction and design offers a myriad of benefits. From sustainability and improved indoor air quality to acoustic performance, wood contributes to creating healthy, inspiring, and eco-friendly learning environments. By embracing the versatility and beauty of wood, educational institutions provide students with spaces that enhance well-being, creativity, and academic excellence.
 Higgins, S., Hall, E., Wall, K., Woolner, P., & McCaughey, C. (2005). The Impact of School Environments: A Literature Review. The Centre for Learning and Teaching. Newcastle University. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232607630_The_Impact_of_School_Environments_A_Literature_Review
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