Upgrading classrooms unlocks positive academic outcomes

06 July 2023

By Diane Kappas, PPG Vice President, Global Sustainability and 2023 Executive Champion of the ‘New Paint for a New Start’ initiative.

A quality education is a fundamental human right. It’s a path to a brighter future. It’s a requirement for a peaceful, prosperous world and to solve the challenges of modern society.

As part of its global blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, quality education is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (UN), which includes a target of building and upgrading education facilities that are disability, gender and generationally sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.[1]

Despite progress to address the learning challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN reports that countries are facing a “triple crisis” in education. The first is a crisis of equity and inclusion, the second of quality and third, relevance – all are key to equipping current and future generations with the skills needed to thrive in a fast-changing world.[2] This is compounded by teacher shortages – especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)[3] – in the United States, Europe and beyond.[4]

"When it comes to updating classrooms for positive educational outcomes, fresh paint and colours are an effective way to make a dramatic impact."Diane Kappas, PPG Vice President, Global Sustainability

Revitalising classrooms, engaging students

Even with the challenges that face schools and educators worldwide, every young student should have the opportunity to start each day with a positive outlook in joyful learning environments where they feel supported. Revitalising and creating learning spaces where students feel comfortable, safe and engaged is of critical importance. Physical improvements to schools are proven to contribute to learning, morale and attendance.[5]

When it comes to updating classrooms for positive educational outcomes, fresh paint and colours are an effective way to make a dramatic impact. In fact, painting classrooms and learning spaces with colours specifically intended to enhance learning can improve both students’ and teachers’ experiences in the classroom and increase their feelings of engagement in learning, according to a study by PPG in partnership with Campos and RAND Corporation.[6]


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Connecting classrooms and nature

Studies have shown that views of nature, outdoor spaces and places to gather can improve mental health and well-being. Connections to the natural world can contribute to people’s overall well-being through a range of intangible effects.[7]

In classrooms, linking to biophilia, or the concept that access to nature and natural-feeling surroundings, helps to foster creativity, alleviate stress and increase positivity. This was important to PPG color experts who created an educational colour palette for the New Paint for a New Start initiative, part of the COLORFUL COMMUNITIES® programme.

Through New Paint for a New Start, PPG employee volunteers are transforming more than 25 schools and learning spaces worldwide in June, July and August 2023. Volunteers are using biophilic colours in a way that mimic natural landscapes and accenting with bright pops of colour to help to develop engaging educational spaces.

Setting up students for success

Student engagement and their curiosity, interest and passion for learning is connected to a variety of positive academic outcomes. These factors for success require a focused investment into classroom environments and dedication to improve the lives of students, the next generation of leaders.  At PPG, this is an integral part of our promise to deliver on our purpose to protect and beautify the world.


[1] https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/education/

[2] https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/04/1135467

[3] https://abcnews.go.com/US/states-facing-special-education-stem-teacher-shortages/story?id=98775708

[4] https://uk.style.yahoo.com/teacher-shortages-worry-countries-across-072633937.html

[5] https://blog.ed.gov/2023/06/building-toward-equitable-schools-for-the-21st-century/

[6] https://communities.ppg.com/getmedia/ef7c391d-7a44-4e5b-9857-7b86a7ab303f/PPG_ClassroomColorResearch_2020_ExecSummary_FINAL.pdf

[7] https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/08/05/nature-study-impact-hiking-outdoors/

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