The CHPS Core Criteria provides a basis for state, regional, or local entities to adopt and create new or update existing adaptations of the CHPS Criteria. The Core Criteria addresses indoor environmental quality, energy and water efficiency, site, materials selection, strategies for integration and innovation, and operations and benchmarking. The CHPS Core Criteria is not intended for use by design teams.

The Core Criteria was originally developed by an ad-hoc committee of CHPS stakeholders in 2009 to establish a national definition for healthy, high performance schools and to serve as a framework that reduces the development time and expense of geographic adaptations of the CHPS Criteria.

The Core Criteria identifies three top priority outcomes of: improving health and student performance; reducing operating costs; and mitigating environmental impacts, which are reflected in the point weightings, strategies, and focus of the Core Criteria. State, regional, and local entities use the Core Criteria to build in custom priorities, local climate and code issues, and other local variations that make each edition of the rating system unique.

Priority Outcomes of the Core Criteria

The Core Criteria was developed to achieve three priority outcomes, in order of importance:

  • Maximize the health, well-being, and performance of students, educators, and staff.
  • Conserve energy, water, and other resources to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and reduce operating costs.
  • Practice good environmental stewardship within schools to achieve community environmental goals.

The CHPS National Technical Committee has weighted the available point totals for prerequisites and credits in seven categories to reflect these three priorities. The Core Criteria contains 200 of the total 250 points used in the CHPS Criteria since 2014.

The Core Criteria was most recently updated in 2019. This edition, called Core Criteria v3.0, is available for free to interested state, regional, or local governments or others interested in pursuing a custom adaptation of the CHPS Criteria. To obtain a copy, email The next update is anticipated to occur in 2023.

In addition to the Core Criteria itself, interested entities may download a copy of our Guide to Local Adaptation below. The guide contains the basics of working with CHPS to develop a local adaptation and is meant to open the conversation and not to be the final terms.

Core Criteria Framework

The Core Criteria is divided into seven categories: Integration (II), Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ), Energy (EE), Water (WE), Site (SS), Materials and Waste (MW), and Operations (OM).

Each category is comprised of prerequisites and credits. Prerequisites must be included as prerequisites in any future CHPS Criteria adaptation or update. Credits must be included in any future CHPS Criteria adaptation or update, but it is up to the state or region to decide if they are included as requirements for every project or as voluntary credits.

Points are assigned to each prerequisite and credit. There are a total of 200 points in the CHPS Core Criteria that form the minimum points available for each item.

Point Assignments in the Core Criteria
CategoryCore Criteria % (Points)
Integration (II)11% (22)
Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ)33% (66)
Energy (EE)24.5% (49)
Water (WE)9% (18)
Site (SS)8.5% (17)
Materials & Waste (MW)6.5% (13)
Operations (OM)7.5% (15)
TOTAL100% (200)

Each future CHPS Criteria adaptation or update must offer prerequisites and credits totaling 250 points. The additional 50 points are assigned at the discretion of the state or region. They may be distributed among existing prerequisites or credits or used in developing new prerequisites or credits. This means that 80 percent of the available points in any given CHPS Criteria adaptation will stem from the Core Criteria, while 20 percent are designated by the local CHPS Committee.

Why Do Prerequisites Have Points?

The prerequisites in the Core Criteria and the resulting regional/state editions of the CHPS Criteria have been assigned points for several reasons – 1) to reflect the impact and difficulty of simply meeting the prerequisites; 2) to allow for the weighting of criteria within a category and between the categories during the development process by the CHPS National Technical Committee and the local CHPS Committees; 3) to ensure the consistency and comparability of points between local adaptations of the CHPS Criteria i.e. if a criterion is a prerequisite in one state, but a credit in another it is worth the same number of points.