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Green Schools in a Generation


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  • Thanks for having us today. I want to talk for a few minutes about green schools and the fact that Green schools make sense both for the students and the taxpayers who fund them. Green schools use less energy, water, and natural resources; create less waste; and are healthier and more comfortable for the students and faculty Green schools deliver lower energy and water bills; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and less exposure for students to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins, along with lowering incidence of flu, colds and asthma.
  • Let’s give schools a little context. More than 55 million students and more than 5 million faculty, staff and administrators go to school every day. More than 20% of America’s population that spends about six hours a day in a school building
  • In 2007, over $35 billion tax dollars will be spent on K-12 construction. It’s the largest construction sector of the economy.
  • Typically schools are built to meet code, and nothing more. They have poor ventilation, poor lighting and far too many of them are simply old, requiring expensive maintenance and upkeep just to keep the doors open.
  • It’s an important topic because buildings have a huge impact on the environment. They tax our resources, they contribute to global warming, they are where we spend as much as 90% of our time
  • But If we build our buildings green – we can have a huge impact. According to a study by Capital E, green building save at least 30% in terms of energy, reduce carbon emission by 35%, reduce water use by 30-50% and save costs on waste of 50-90%.
  • And if we build our schools green we’ve done something important both for the students and the taxpayers who fund the schools. Beyond their energy, water, and natural resources conservation they; create less waste; and are healthier and more comfortable for the students and faculty Green schools deliver lower energy and water bills; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and less exposure for students to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins, along with lowering incidence of flu, colds and asthma.    Green schools have a significant contribution to make in improving the health and well-being of America’s students and the faculty and administrators who guide them.
  • Bold statements like that require some proof, so . . .
  • The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is the nation’s foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry. Industry-led and consensus-driven, the Council is as diverse as the marketplace it serves. Membership includes building owners and end-users, real estate developers, facility managers, architects, designers, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors, product and building system manufacturers, government agencies, and nonprofits.  Leaders from within each of these sectors participate in the development of the LEED Rating Systems and the direction of the Council through volunteer service on USGBC’s open committees.
  • Driving USGBC’s mission to transform the built environment is a robust set of tools, including the LEED Green Building Rating System™, which is now accessible through LEED-Online, and supported by a robust LEED Workshop program and LEED Professional Accreditation program. In addition, the Council supports a rich education and research agenda, it also supports an aggressive education and advocacy program delivered at the local level through 60 chapters across the United States. Since its founding in 1993, USGBC has been focused on fulfilling the building and construction industry’s vision for its own transformation to high-performance green building.
  • 70 chapters, affiliates and organizing groups are the front door of USGBC across the U.S. Here’s where the work is delivered – in city halls, county commissions, zoning boards and permitting offices. Here’s where the network is forged that allows a single voice for green building to be shaped and used to move the transformation forward. From our rapidly growing emerging green builders network to our CEO Roundtables, Federal summits, NGO briefings, and member circles, we link common interests in ways that can advance the larger common good. Chapters:  59 Affiliates:  6 Organizing groups:  5
  • Everyday you can go into the store and buy an $.89 box of crackers and know exactly what you are getting. So shouldn’t you be able to walk into an $8 million dollar building and know the same thing?
  • That’s why we created LEED – to provide the same kind of knowledge of a building as you can get off the nutrition label of an animal cracker box.
  • LEED provides a collaborative platform, accountability that the building was built as designed and performs as expected, credibility because of its third party certification process. LEED is all about results, and it undergoes a process of continuous improvement that allows for new technologies to be incorporated.
  • The LEED Rating System is flexible, not a ‘one-sized fits all’ approach There are a few prerequisites all projects must meet in the Rating System, and beyond that project teams can choose which credits to pursue based on their environmental and performance goals as long as they meet the minimum threshold for certification There are 4 different thresholds for LEED certification to recognize varying levels of achievement: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum
  • The plaque is your assurance that the building has been built as designed and will perform as expected.
  • LEED addresses the complete life cycle of buildings. It started with the crating of a new construction program, which expended to include core and shell, commercial interiors and the ongoing operations of a building through the LEED for Existing Buildings program. LEED for Schools was launched earlier this year.
  • Green schools have a significant contribution to make in improving the health and well-being of America’s students and the faculty and administrators who guide them.
  • What is green school anyway? Design and construction practices that meet specified standards, resolving much of the negative impact of buildings on their occupants and on the environment. So what is a green building anyway? Design and construction practices that meet specified standards, resolving much of the negative impact of building on their occupants and on the environment.
  • Computing the benefits of green buildings requires us to use a bit of new math
  • Here’s the results of a study from Capital E that looked at 30 schools. LEED Schools are cost effective to build. As in other commercial buildings, the net cost of building a LEED school is comparable to building conventional schools. Somewhat higher first costs are offset by lower utility and water bills immediately, saving taxpayers operational costs over the long term. Integrated design, based on building science, is the surest way to take advantage of substantial cost streamlining opportunities that can reduce the overall cost of green upgrades by as much as 40 percent. These hard cost savings are realized from several specific practices.
  • Adequate levels of the right kind of light can save energy and enhance learning conditions. Adding remote sensors, individual controls and task lighting can greatly reduce electricity costs.
  • Roof mounted solar panels turn sunlight into an alternative energy source for the school and provide excellent opportunities for hands-on learning
  • Green roofs are cooler, saving energy and providing a filter for stormwater run-off. The natural habitat for birds and butterflies also creates an interactive learning environment for students.
  • Low-flow sinks, waterless urinals and dual-flush toilets reduce total water use by as much as 50%. Toilets that use harvested rainwater instead of potable water help ease the strain on municipal water systems. Students get a first-hand lesson in how to use water more conservatively.
  • These savings can add up. In fact the average school saves about $100,000 in direct savings per year.
  • The total financial benefits of green schools are 20 times greater than the initial cost, and include significant energy and water savings. That $100,000 a year $100,000 divided by the average teacher’s salary nets two new teachers. $100,000 divided by the average cost of school computers equals 200 new computers $100,000 divided by the average cost of middle school text books equals more than 5,000 additional books If all new school construction and school renovations went “green” starting today, energy savings alone would total $20 billion over the next 10 years.
  • Green schools also stress improved indoor environmental quality because of its impact on student health and learning. Skylights and large windows allow daylight to stream in, reducing energy costs and improving student concentration and performance. Adjustable blinds and shades help reduce glare. Lightshelves bounce sunlight deep into the room and provide even light distribution
  • Improved acoustics can be achieved with acoustical ceiling tiles, lined ductwork and quiet HVAC systems with appropriately placed vents. Classrooms with improved acoustics create a more productive learning environment for children and allow teachers to be heard without straining their voices. Comfortable indoor temperatures enhance productivity and keep students more alert. Fresher, cleaner air can be achieved with windows that open or ventilation systems that provide a constant supply of air.
  • These learning benefits of green schools create a new math type balanced equation where learning and productivity improves by about 3% and teacher turnover is reduced by 3%, according to Capital E
  • In terms of student and teacher health, green schools deliver. Providing adequate ventilation and keeping relative humidity below 60%, inhibits mold growth. The presence of mold can lead to serious health concerns, especially in children.
  • Using paint and carpet that don’t emit toxic gasses and using ceiling tiles, wall systems and furniture made with non-toxic materials will improve air quality in the classroom and throughout the school. High indoor air quality keeps students and faculty healthier and reduces absences related to respiratory conditions and other environmental illnesses.
  • Applying these benefits to a new math equation is soft math, but equally important. If the 500 kids in a school are healthier and their learning environment is better the long-term benefits are infinite.
  • Green Schools have benefits that extend beyond the actually building. Alternative transportation options Alternative fuel buses reduce C02 emissions and reduce smog and ground level ozone. Bike racks, safe bike paths and sidewalks encourage an active lifestyle and decrease emissions.
  • Recycling programs that involve students directly teach responsible environmental habits they can apply at home. Diverting solid waste from landfills reduces impacts on municipal services.
  • By making school spaces available for use by the larger community, the need for additional facilities goes down, saving costs community-wide and decreasing the environmental impact of the community as a whole.
  • And one of the most interesting phenomenon coming out of green schools is how environmental education seems to permeate every curriculum. This was summed up recently by environmental advocate Kelly Meyer: “ Green schools connect children to the real world in unimaginable ways. They inspire kids to want to read and do math and learn, so they can protect what they love – the oceans, the forests and wetlands, their friends and families. As parents and as communities, we owe kids healthy, nurturing environments that also teach and inspire them. That’s what green schools do.
  • Green schools = green communities. You drop a building effect and the ripple effect is to encourage more green buildings and increased awareness of their value.
  • BUILDING A PROGRAM FOR SPEED AND SCALE USGBC has launched a Green Schools education and awareness campaign, designed to educate legislators and schools boards, parents and teachers about the overwhelming benefits of building green, high performance schools. We’re asking everyone who cares about improving children’s health and well-being, their ability and desire to learn to become a part of our efforts. Visit www. buildgreenschools.org and learn how you can get involved in this important effort. Take the Green Schools Pledge and encourage others to take it, too. Become familiar with the LEED for Schools Rating system and encourage its use in your community. Distribute copies of “Greening America’s Schools” to your local school board and local legislators. Join your local Green Schools advocacy team. Contact your local USGBC chapter for information on how you can help.
  • Let’s build more of them
  • Green Schools in a Generation