Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

School's Almost Out, but These Modular, Eco-Friendly Classrooms Are In

As a school's population explodes while its budget dwindles, most students are more likely to learn their long division in a dismal, aging trailer. Luckily, a slew of inspiring kit-style classrooms can be constructed on site before the start of the next school year—and at a fraction of the cost. The eco-friendly, modular classrooms by Gen7 from American Modular Systems predict cost savings of up to 30% due to the use of photovoltaics and energy-efficiency features, as well as a two- to four-month install time, compared to over a year for most ground-up school programs. Gen7 also has a comprehensive educational curriculum that works with students to help them understand why a greener school is better.

Project Frog

Project Frog's nifty modular classrooms (which we've noted before) generate enough solar energy to sustain themselves and can be completed in less than six months. Project Frog provides off-the-shelf solutions that use reclaimed and recycled, non-toxic materials, as well as more customizable designs to fit any school's budget. A new Frog project has recently brought a brightly colored educational center to San Francisco's Crissy Field.

Jennifer Siegal country school

Jennifer Siegal's Country School expansion in Valley Village, California, uses several of her signature prefab structures to create an entire campus that is modern, green, and affordable. The steel-frame modules use eco-friendly materials like bamboo and Homasote, and the vaulted ceilings and natural light give each classroom an airy, open feeling. There's also a vegetable garden and a stream runs through the middle of the school's courtyard.

Clever Homes

The aptly named Clever Homes worked with the first LEED-certified school district in the country to bring a version of their prefab home to educational use. The Toby Long-designed campus at the Seaside, Florida, Chartwell School only took about four weeks to install. The structures were estimated to cost $40 to $50 per square feet, while new construction could cost around $250 to $300 per square feet.

treehouse school

While not exactly a kit, the pod-like Douglas fir-shingled treehouses of Elleray Preparatory School in the U.K. act as a modular, scalable system. Designed by Kita Design Company, the pods use photovoltaics to generate electricity and collect rainwater to be used on the site. The building also treads lightly, requiring no foundational cement or disturbance of the old growth forest. We kind of love the fact that kids are learning about biology while suspended a few dozen feet in the air, with great views of nature. Besides, who wouldn't want to go to school in a treehouse?