Big Growth Spurt in U.S. Schools Going Green

Big Growth Spurt in U.S. Schools Going Green

Almost 1,000 school buildings have met or are seeking LEED certification, bringing more than 8 million square feet of campus space under LEED certification and another 90 million square feet into the LEED pipeline as projects registered with the U.S. Green Building Council, the council said.

According to the figures released by the council yesterday, there is at least one application for certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building standards from schools every day.

Maryland, Hawaii, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Ohio, Washington, Connecticut and the District of Columbia require that new schools be environmentally friendly and California and Pennsylvania offer incentives to follow green specifications.

An analysis of LEED certified schools showed the campuses reduced energy consumption by 33 percent, cut water use by 32 percent and slashed production of solid waste by 74 percent when compared to traditional school buildings.

The USGBC, which highlights and supports the eco-friendly construction initiatives of U.S. schools through its Build Green Schools program, also cited a number of studies that detail the benefits of environmentally sensitive campuses.

In his report "Greening America's Schools: Costs & Benefits," Gregory Kats of the national clean energy technology and green building firm Capital E said green schools save as average of $100,000 per year — enough to hire two new teachers, buy 200 new computers or purchase 5,000 new textbooks. In North Carolina, Heschong Mahone found that students in classrooms with the most daylight had consistently higher test scores by 7 to - 18 percent.

Case studies included in the Kats report also showed that cleaner indoor air cuts down on sick days for students and teachers. Teacher absenteeism and teacher turnover dropped as well.

"Twenty percent of America goes to school every day," said Michelle Moore, USGBC senior vice president. "There is no better or more important place for us to demonstrate as a society that we can have a more sustainable future."