Thu, May 3, 2018 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm ET

In honor of National Healthy Schools Day and Autism Awareness Month, this webinar is an introduction to the factors that make a school building healthy for all individuals, why these factors are so important, and how to design for them. Covering the multiple perspectives of researchers, architects, and advocates, the speakers will introduce compelling research on the indoor environmental health of school buildings and how it impacts students and faculty, particularly students with sensory processing disorder, and how to put evidence into action to create good outcomes. Participants will also learn about CHPS’ role in promoting healthy buildings and see examples of schools built to CHPS healthy, high performance criteria.

This webinar debuts CHPS' Bright Ideas in High Performance Webinar Series, which will feature up-and-coming leaders and fresh, new ideas in high performance school design. We offer this exciting new series as a service to our membership as well as a valuable resource to the public. If you know about a bright idea in high performance design that you would like to share with our collaborative via webinar, please contact Lisa Dunnebacke at or (415) 957-9888, extension 122.

This webinar is approved by AIA for 1.5 LU/HSW credits. Course #CHPS201801, AIA Provider #38432758.

Featured Speakers


Erika Eitland, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Bio: Erika is a 3rd Year Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Program Leader for the Schools for Health Team. Erika's research focuses on the impact K-12 school buildings have on student and teacher health in the United States. She is committed to creating tools that translate scientific research findings into user-friendly information that promote short and long-term success of students. In 2017, she was the lead author of Schools for Health: Foundations for Student Success report, which includes findings from 300 research articles and highlights more than 70 health outcome measures for evaluating the impact of buildings on student health. She received her Masters of Public Health from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Other research interests include, smart home technologies, air pollution, climate change, and environmental justice.

Summary: The research is clear. A healthy school building is critical for development, cognitive function, and academic excellence. More than 30 years of environmental health research serve as the foundation for this session, which will 1) highlight key findings from the 2017 Schools for Health report, 2) provide an overview of indoor environmental quality impacts on child health and performance, and 3) recognize the school building as a critical public health intervention.


Laura Shrestha, Boston Architectural College

Bio: Laura holds a Master's of Architecture degree and a Bachelor's of Design Studies in Preservation and Sustainability from Boston Architectural College. While working on her Master's degree, she developed a set of design guidelines for individuals who have sensory processing disorders and cognitive disabilities in educational environments, creating a new type of design called "Sensory Integrated Design." Her work was guided by Dr. Dak Kopec, Director of Human Health at the BAC, and Dr. Temple Grandin, Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and noted author and lecturer on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Laura has participated in lectures and design competitions, such as Herox House To Home, sponsored by Autism Speaks. She is also a member of Autism Speaks.

Summary: I will explore several factors in designing for a calm environment, most importantly: 1) what Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is and how the built environment impacts those who have it, 2) the experience of those with SPD and how the rest of us have experienced it without knowing it, 3) how parents, educators, and designers can calm the sensory storm to allow these brilliant minds to work, and 4) choices in the built environment that make a difference.


Laura Wernick, Architect

Bio: As Managing Principal of HMFH Architects, Laura leads the firm’s nationally-recognized educational planning practice, which is known for creating environments that support collaboration and communication through openness, vibrancy, natural light and healthy environments. She believes that school environments strongly influence student learning, and has dedicated her career to shaping spaces that support true educational excellence. Laura is a Past President of the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), and has championed the BSA’s role as a teaching and learning community for architects and the public. She has also served as regional president, conference organizer, panelist, and author for the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, an organization of 20,000 architects and planners. In February 2018, she was elected to The College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Summary: With the knowledge of the research on how the indoor environment impacts student and staff health, what are the steps school districts can take? What are the practical options? I will share some examples for improving the school environment through indoor air quality, lighting, and acoustics and how these options could have a beneficial impact on the school and the district.


Elisabeth Krautscheid, CHPS Managing Director - Moderator

As Managing Director, Elisabeth is deeply committed to CHPS’ priorities of healthy learning environments, wise use of resources, and minimal waste. She is also an energetic proponent of a strong operational foundation for schools. She is a Certified Energy Manager with more than 25 years of professional experience in environmental policy implementation, program management, and community activism. Elisabeth contributes to CHPS a unique strategic vision that combines both technical and industry expertise with managerial best practices. Elisabeth has a prior background with CHPS having directed the Green Schools Initiative (MA-CHPS program) for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Her expertise spans several industries, which include forestry management, water/wastewater management, open space planning, watershed management, and community development. She specializes in environmental justice and healthy communities and is especially passionate about how children experience their communities and their environments. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Michigan State University and an M.A. in Energy & Environmental Studies from Boston University.


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