Environmental Protection

Schools Tapping into LEED Building Trend

One school a day.

That's the rate America's schools are registering for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification program for green schools, signaling their intent to build and operate schools that are more energy and water efficient, which will save taxpayers money. Green schools also have significantly improved indoor air quality, and that results in healthier kids.

"When you consider the fact that 50 million young people spend 8 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 at the council.

"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."

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.

Moore notes 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."

The state of Ohio is 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 more than $1.4 billion in taxpayer money over the next 40 years through energy consumption reductions.

The council's local chapter network is engaging school boards and PTAs and helping them take the next steps toward committing to green schools.

The U.S. Green Building Council is a nonprofit membership organization whose vision is a sustainable built environment within a generation. The LEED® for Schools green rating system delivers green building guidelines and third-party certification to assure school stakeholders that their school incorporates best practices in green building with measurable results.

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