The CHPS National Core Criteria provides a framework for states and regions to create new or update existing adaptations of the CHPS Criteria. The Core Criteria address indoor environmental quality, energy and water efficiency, site and materials selection, strategies for integration and innovation, and operations and metrics.

The Core Criteria was originally developed by an ad-hoc committee of CHPS stakeholders in 2009 as both a framework and process to establish a national definition for healthy, high performance schools, and to encourage local flexibility. In addition, the Core Criteria represents a facilitated process to reduce the development time and expense of state and regional adaptations of the CHPS Criteria.

Since that time CHPS successfully piloted the use of the Core Criteria in three states – Massachusetts (an update of the first edition of MA-CHPS), Virginia, and Hawaii. Using the Core Criteria as a common starting point cut the development time in half. Version 2.0 of the National Core Criteria incorporates lessons learned from these pilots and the previous adaptations.

Priority Outcomes of the Core Criteria

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

  • Maximize the health and performance of students and staff;
  • Conserve energy, water and other resources in order to save precious operating dollars;
  • Minimize material waste, pollution and environmental degradation created by a school.

The CHPS National Technical Committee has weighted the available point totals for prerequisites and mandatory offerings in seven categories to reflect these three priorities.

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 Management (MW), and Operations and Metrics (OM).

Each category is comprised of prerequisites and mandatory offerings. Prerequisites must be included as prerequisites in any future CHPS Criteria adaptation or update. Mandatory offerings must be included in any future CHPS Criteria adaptation or update but it is up to the state or region to decide if it is included as a requirement for every project or voluntary credit. For this reason, the Core Criteria does not contain any strategies as “credits”, but instead leaves it up to each state or region to decide whether or not to require the strategy or feature.

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

Point Assignments in the Core Criteria

CategoryCore Criteria % (Points)
Integration (II)8.5% (17)
Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ)33.0% (66)
Energy (EE)25.0% (50)
Water (WE)8.0% (16)
Site (SS)9.5% (19)
Materials & Waste Management (MW)8.5% (17)
Operations & Metrics (OM)7.5% (15)
TOTAL100% (200)

Two local adaptions have been completed to date using the Core Criteria v2.0 – NE-CHPS Criteria Version 3.0 and the 2014 CA-CHPS Criteria.

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.

Eligibility Levels

There are 250 total points possible for the following CHPS project types:

  • New school construction
  • New buildings on an existing campus (classroom or non-classroom)
  • Major renovations/modernizations
  • Phased renovations/modernizations
  • Additions (classroom or non-classroom)

    Although there are five CHPS project types, only the first three -- new school or replacement school campuses, new building(s) on an existing campus, and major renovations/modernizations – typically have sufficient scope for recognition by CHPS as standalone projects.

    New Campus

    In order to qualify as a high performance school, a new school must meet all of the prerequisites and earn at least 110 points.

    Replacement campuses are subject to “New School” requirements. A replacement campus project is defined as the replacement of all buildings on an existing school site, with all new buildings.

    New Building(s) on an Existing Campus

    In order to qualify as a new building on an existing campus, prerequisites shall be met based on the scope of the project and earn at least 110 points. In general, the more credits a project earns, the better it is, but the CHPS Criteria is a pass/fail system requiring a minimum score of 110.


    In order to qualify as a major renovation/modernization project, prerequisites shall be met based on the scope of the project and earn at least 85 points.

    Major renovations/modernizations are defined by a substantial improvement to a school of at least two of the following building systems: lighting, HVAC, building envelope, interior surfaces, and/or site. A substantial improvement is when more than half the system or surfaces are being replaced or upgraded.

    Phased (minor) Renovations/Modernizations

    CHPS recognizes that because renovations and modernizations vary so widely in scope and phasing, any set of guidelines or criteria must grow and adapt as unforeseen situations arise in the process of transforming an existing school into a high performance school. A High Performance Transition Plan is introduced in this edition of the Core Criteria as a path to achieve recognition as a CHPS High Performance School through a series of phased renovation/modernization projects.

    Related Materials and Programs

    Download a compilation of all comments received during the first two comment periods and the responses from the technical committee.