Schools are the heart and soul of our communities with 20% of our nation attending schools every day. Green schools can save money in operations and maintenance to hire new teachers, computers and textbooks. USGBC-C4's goal of inspiring local leadership is key to ensuring that students attend high-performing schools that offer a nurturing learning environment and use less money on energy and water - saving taxpayer money for textbooks, computers, and teacher retention.
Some of the benefits of green schools are:
A healthy, productive learning environment: According to the Heschong Mahone study, students performed 20-36% better in day lit environments. Other studies show that there is an average of 38.5% reduction in asthma in green schools with improved indoor air quality. And, students attended school between 3.2 and 3.8 days more per year in green schools with full-spectrum lighting, which resulted in increased funding as well as more learning.
Improved Teacher Retention: Teachers and staff enjoy working in green schools and tend to be more productive and stay longer.
Financial savings: Green schools use, on average, 30-50% less energy and 30% less water which can easily equate to a 10% no-cost savings or between $10,000-$30,000 per year.
Hands-on learning experiences and examples for students and community: Students learn by experience and interaction about sustainable, healthy environments in green schools. They tend to carry this information home and on throughout their lives as they become the next generation of green leaders.
Two local leaders, Mayor John Shoals of Grover Beach and Mayor Helene Schneider of Santa Barbara, have taken the important first step of signing on to the U.S. Mayor's Alliance for Green Schools, demonstrating commitment to non-toxic, energy efficient and productive schools.
In addition to promoting the Mayors' Alliance for Green Schools, USGBC-C4 is promoting Green Schools through the following programs and initiatives:
Adopt a School (District): donors help their school achieve certification under LEED for existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance, a comprehensive rating system for greening an existing building's operations, from energy and water conservation, through sustainable purchasing, green cleaning, and other measures.
Host a Green School Roll-out Event: These informational seminars provide the steps necessary for parents, teachers, and administrators to begin to green their school or district.
Host a monthly educational seminar: Each month the green school advocacy committee meets to learn and coordinate efforts to host educational seminars.
20% of America goes to school every day.
Too many of these students and teachers attend schools that are inefficient and miss important opportunities to reduce operational costs, foster learning and protect student health. By promoting the greening of all schoolsundefinednew or existingundefinedwe can make a tremendous impact on student health, test scores, teacher retention, school operational costs and the environment.
1. Save Money
Most schools spend more money on energy each year than on school supplies! Green schools cost significantly less money to operate and use less water and energy, freeing up resources to focus on improving student education. A typical green school saves $100,000 per year in direct costs. If all new school construction and school renovations went green starting today, energy savings alone would total $20 billion over the next 10 years.
2. Student Engagement
Studies show that naturally lit, better indoor air quality, and hands-on, experiential environmental curricula are linked to higher test scores. Elementary school students with either hands-on experience in a school garden or an environmental education curriculum score higher on math, science, and language arts tests, behave better in class, and have better attitudes about school compared with control groups without such programs.
3. Teaching Stewardship
Ultimately, sustainability is about being good global citizens: ensuring adequate resources for a clean, healthy environment for all. Imagine if schools were leaders in environmental sustainability, giving students the tools to be innovators, and giving them a healthy environment in which to learn and play. Green schools empower kids to make a difference, and teach them environmental and health values that will stay with them for life.
4. Safeguard Health
Every teacher and student deserves to go to a school with healthy air to breathe and conditions that encourage learning.
Green schools are healthy for kids and conducive to learning. Green schools promote:
Daylight and views
High indoor air quality
Water and energy efficiency
Numerous studies have demonstrated direct benefits to student health and performance:
Daylight improves performance
Good indoor air quality improves health
Acoustics increase learning potential