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Design & Engineering Standards - Schools


Healthy Schools
Design & Engineering Standards

  • Create incentives for multimodal transportation choices by students and families. Urban design elements and neighborhood infrastructure that create safe and vibrant environments are critical to getting families with children walking and bicycling. [i]
  • Site new schools so they are connected to neighborhoods and are energy efficient. [ii]
  • Emphasize that schools should anticipate and plan for increased community interest in the use of new and renovated school facilities. [iii]
  • Provide design specifications for parking lots, entrances, and bus and car drop-offs to ensure the safe and unobstructed flow of non-motorized active transportation and pedestrian traffic, including clearly marked entrances and appropriate way-finding. [iv]
  • Include specifications for secure storage of bicycles, a bicycle fleet, and space for bicycle repair/maintenance. [v]
  • Recommend the design of outdoor activity areas that include natural landscape and green spaces. For elementary and middle schools with structured recess, recommend play areas that include: hard surface areas for organized/competitive sports; playground equipment; and green spaces for unstructured play and outdoor education curricula.[vi]
  • Encourage school districts to emphasize sustainable designs, integrating design policies, practices, and initiatives that support health and wellness. [vii]
  • Consider transportation access, including pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit connections between the school and nearby residential areas, and connectivity to trails, parks, recreation centers, healthy food outlets, libraries, and health centers. [viii]


[i] Vincent, “Connecting Housing, Transportation & Education to Expand Opportunity.”
[ii] McKoy, Vincent, and Bierbaum, “Opportunity-Rich Schools and Sustainable Communities: Seven Steps to Align High-Quality Education with Innovations in City and Metropolitan Planning and Development.”
[iii] Public Health Law Center, “Building Healthy Schools Health Impact Assessment on Planning School Construction Projects in Minnesota.”
[iv] Public Health Law Center.
[v] Public Health Law Center.
[vi] Public Health Law Center.
[vii] Public Health Law Center.
[viii] Public Health Law Center.