Green school buildings have multiple benefits and advantages, including:
- reduced use of energy and water, and reduced materials waste;
- lower operating costs, i.e., financial savings that can be used to fund other improvements or activities;
- a healthier and more comfortable learning (and teaching) environment, resulting in better student performance (including higher test scores), improved health of all of the schools’ occupants (and therefore, fewer sick days), as well as more satisfied teachers and staff; and
- new opportunities for on-site, hands-on environmental learning.
Whether you’re a teacher, parent, student, school administrator, or building professional, you may be interested in learning more about green schools. Here is a listing of many of the key websites, organizations, guidelines, and initiatives related to green schools, with a focus on school buildings/facilities (design of new buildings, retrofitting existing buildings, as well as the daily operations and maintenance of the buildings). Most of these resources are related to K-12 schools, but some of the information also applies to higher education facilities.
Center for Green Schools (U.S. Green Building Council)
Eco-Schools USA (National Wildlife Federation)
EnergySmart Schools (U.S. Department of Energy)
High Performance Schools (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
LEED for Schools (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Rating System, USGBC)
For information on getting financing for green / energy efficiency projects, check out these sites: the National Education Foundation/ U.S. Department of Education’s Qualified School Construction Bonds, the California Energy Commission’s Energy Efficiency loans, PG&E’s School Resource Program (for schools within the PG&E utility area), and the DSIRE Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. For additional links related to funding for green projects, see my post on Green Tax Credits, Rebates, and Other Financial Incentives.
Examples of Local and Regional Initiatives
- California Green Schools Summit and Exposition
- Green Schools New Orleans (Global Green USA)
- Green Schools for Southern California (Global Green USA)
- Los Angeles Unified School District: Sustainability Initiatives
- Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools: School Energy and Recycling Team
- San Francisco Unified School District: Green Schools Initiative
Related Post: Green Curricula and Environmental Learning Activities (i.e., environmental education)