WASHINGTON - One school per day, says the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) - that’s the rate America’s schools are registering for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program for green schools, signaling their intent to build and operate schools that are more energy and water efficient, as well as have improved IAQ.
“When you consider the fact that 50 million young people spend eight hours a school day in a school building, we should do everything we can to make that environment work for them, not against them. Parents, teachers, and school board officials understand better than anyone the link between child health and learning; and the fact is that children in green schools have fewer sick days and better test scores,” said Michelle Moore, senior vice president, USGBC.
“And if these reasons aren’t compelling enough to go green,” Moore continued, “the operational cost savings should be. If you do the math, energy savings alone could pay for 5,000 new textbooks per school per year.”
Moore noted that there are about 100,000 public and private schools in the United States, and that fully one-third of their facility costs are in heating/cooling buildings, providing water, electricity, and other energy/utility functions.
“LEED buildings have a demonstrated track record for lowering energy use by up to 40 percent and reducing water use by up to 50 percent over conventional buildings,” Moore said. “Between climate change, skyrocketing energy prices, and growing concerns about water, building green schools and operating and maintaining them using green best practices should be a top priority in every community across the country.”
Moore noted that some communities have made the commitment. “Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, and Virginia have the most LEED certified schools to date, and many local school districts and state departments of education are beginning to develop and implement policies that require schools to be built green.”
Ohio is one state that’s leading the way. Hundreds of new and renovated schools are set to meet higher energy efficiency and environmental standards through the Ohio School Facilities Commission’s adoption of the LEED for Schools Rating System as part of its school design standards. When the Commission did the math, it determined it could save $1,415,529,914 in taxpayer money over the next 40 years by reducing the energy consumption of school buildings.
USGBC said its local chapter network is working to replicate Ohio’s program in communities in all 50 states.
For more information on green schools, visit USGBC’s green schools Website at www.buildgreenschools.org.