Environmental Pfutaclion
      EPA's School Siting Guidelines -  Fact Sheet
Why is it important to consider environmental
factors in choosing a location for a new school?

Everyone - parents, communities, and education,
environment and health agencies - shares the vital
responsibility and interest in protecting the health of
children in every possible way, including protecting
them from environmental risks where they go to

Children, particularly younger children, are uniquely
at risk from environmental hazards. They eat, drink
and breathe more in proportion to their body size
than adults.  In addition, environmental
contaminants may affect children disproportionately
because their immune, respiratory and other
systems are not fully developed, and their growing
organs are more easily harmed. This means they are
more at risk for exposure to harmful chemicals
found outside where they play and in the
environment where they spend most of their time -
school and home.

A well located school enhances the educational
process by providing a safe and healthy environment
for children, teachers and other staff. Before siting a
school, it is important to determine whether a
potential school site is contaminated or could be
impacted by contaminants from nearby sources. EPA
recommends that all properties or structures
proposed for use as a school, as well as surrounding
properties, be carefully evaluated for potential
environmental hazards before making final decisions
to use a site or structure for a school.

What are the School Siting Guidelines?

The guidelines present recommendations for
evaluating the environmental and public health risks
and benefits of potential school locations during the
school siting process. Examples of environmental
risks include onsite contamination like chemicals in
soil or offsite risks like industrial facilities. A
potential environmental and public health benefit is
a location that's close to where students live so they
can walk or bike to school.
                                                 School Siting
                                    When selecting a school location, it is important to
                                    identify and balance the environmental risks and
                                    benefits. EPA recommends that the local education
                                    agency (LEA) seek to avoid locations that have onsite
                                    contamination or are in very close proximity to
                                    pollution sources, especially collections of multiple
                                    sources, if acceptable alternatives exist within the
                                    neighborhoods being served by the school.

                                    Why did EPA issue the guidelines?

                                    In December 2007, Congress enacted the Energy
                                    Independence and Security Act (EISA). Subtitle E,
                                    Section 502 of EISA required EPA to develop model
                                    guidelines for the siting of school facilities that take
                                    into account:

                                    1.   The special vulnerabilities of children to
                                        hazardous substances or pollution exposures in
                                        any case in which the potential for
                                        contamination at a potential school site exists;
                                    2.   The modes of transportation available to
                                        students and staff;
                                    3.   The efficient use of energy; and
                                    4.   The potential use of a school at the site as an
                                        emergency shelter.
                                                          EPA's School Siting Guidelines - Fact Sheet | 1

How can the guidelines be used?

The guidelines are intended as a resource for states,
tribes, communities, school districts, parents and
teachers to consider environmental factors when
selecting school locations. By following the
recommendations in the guidelines, LEAs, tribes and
states can help provide a safe and healthy
environment for children, teachers and staff.

The guidelines provide recommendations on steps to
evaluate potential environmental challenges and
benefits at candidate sites as well as links to
numerous resources that can be useful in selection of
locations for schools. The guidelines include a Quick
Guide to Environmental Issues for readers to learn
more about the types of environmental issues that
are important to address in school siting decisions.

EPA recommends that LEAs evaluate potential
environmental and public health risks and benefits
of candidate school locations before a new school
location is selected. The guidelines provide
information to help LEAs navigate the environmental
review of candidate sites, including an example of
one way that the environmental review process
could be organized.

Meaningful public involvement is important
throughout the school siting process. The guidelines
provide recommendations on public involvement.
One recommendation is the formation of a school
siting committee that includes  representatives from
the community to provide input on considering
environmental factors at potential school locations.

How to get involved?

The Meaningful Public Involvement section of the
guidelines has information about public involvement
and describes the opportunities for meaningful
public involvement at different points throughout
the school siting process.

States, tribes and municipalities may have school
siting regulations or guidance.  The government
agency that has jurisdiction over school siting varies
depending on state, tribal and local authorities. If
you have questions about school siting, contact your
state, tribal or local education,  environment and
health agencies.
You can also contact the EPA Regional Schools
Coordinator for your region. (Visit www.epa.gov/
children and click on "Where You Live.")

Do these guidelines apply if an existing school
in my community is in a location with potential
environmental hazards?

While the focus of these guidelines is on the
evaluation of environmental factors in the selection
of locations for new schools, there are many steps
that can be taken at existing schools to help promote
healthy school environments. EPA has resources and
links to a number of programs at www.epa.gov/
schools that are designed to help schools and
communities take action to protect children's health.

In some cases, environmental improvements at
school  facilities can reduce potential hazards; in
other cases, such as widespread air pollution or
water quality issues, a community wide approach
may be called for. Community organizations, local
businesses and local government can  serve as
important partners in addressing potential
environmental concerns.

While these guidelines discuss many environmental
factors of potential  concern at school locations, the
presence of a potential environmental hazard may
not necessarily pose unacceptable risks to students
and staff at an individual school.

How can I get a copy of the guidelines?

The guidelines are available at www.epa.gov/
schools/siting. On the website you can read the
overview for the guidelines and overviews for the
main sections of the guidelines and access Frequent
Questions and Links to Resources. You can also
access the PDF of the full Guidelines to view,
download or print.

To request a hard copy of the School Siting
Guidelines (EPA-100-K-11-004), contact EPA's
National Service Center for Environmental
Publications at
        Internet: www.epa.gov/nscep
        Phone: (800)490-9198
        E-Mail: nscep@bps-lmit.com
        Fax: (301)604-3408
        US Mail:  U.S. EPA/NSCEP
                P.O. Box 42419
                Cincinnati, Ohio 45242-0419
2 | EPA's School Siting Guidelines - Fact Sheet