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U.S. Mayors, USGBC Join Forces to Green Schools

The U.S. Conference of Mayors has formed the Mayors' Alliance for Green Schools, which will work with the U.S. Green Building Council toward the goal of making the nation's schools environmentally friendly within a generation.

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Greg Nickels of Seattle, who spearheaded the Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement in 2005, and Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of the USGBC, announced the launch of the joint effort late last week.

Other mayors calling for support of the program include Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, Calif., Will Wynn of Austin, Texas, Sheila Dixon of Baltimore, Md., Frank Cownie of Des Moines, Iowa, and George Heartwell of Grand Rapids, Mich.

The mayors and the USGBC said alliance initiatives include developing partnerships with local businesses to enable schools to plant green roofs, start solar gardens or begin recycling programs. The group will also help high school districts green their campuses under the Clinton Climate Initiative's K-12 Retrofit Program.

In addition, the alliance intends to push for incentives and policies supporting green school improvements at the state level and to further the national dialogue about environmentally sound schools, green jobs and the infrastructure to support them.

Members of the alliance are already working with firms like EcoMedia to develop green school projects and incentive programs.

The USGBC's Build Green Schools program offers how-tos and other information for campus administrators and school districts interested in improving the environmental quality of facilities while increasing energy efficiency and decreasing use of other resources.

At the start of the school year, the USGBC reported a growth spurt in the number of eco-friendly schools. Almost 1,000 school buildings have met or are seeking certification under the USGBC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, the council said. More than 8 million square feet of campus space are certified and more than 90 million square feet are in the pipeline as registered projects.

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