institutional

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.


Key Organizations and Information Websites

Center for Green Schools (U.S. Green Building Council)

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)

Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI)

Earth Day Network: Green Your School

Eco-Schools USA (National Wildlife Federation)

EnergySmart Schools (U.S. Department of Energy)

Global Green USA: Green Schools program

Green Schools Alliance

Healthy Schools Network

High Performance Schools (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

LEED for Schools (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Rating System, USGBC)

U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools

U.S. Green Schools Foundation

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


Related Post: Green Curricula and Environmental Learning Activities (i.e., environmental education)

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October 1, 2010
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I’d like to let everyone know about these important new books, which were written by a few of my esteemed colleagues. Please click on the links below for more information about each tome:

Thriving Beyond Sustainability: Pathways to a Resilient Society, by Andres Edwards (New Society Publishers) — This book will be available in May (2010), but it can be pre-ordered now. Here’s an excerpt from the publisher’s description of the book: “Thriving Beyond Sustainability draws a collective map of individuals, organizations, and communities from around the world that are committed to building an alternative future—one that strives to restore ecological health; reinvent outmoded institutions; and rejuvenate our environmental, social, and economic systems. The projects and initiatives profiled are meeting the challenges of the day with optimism, hope, and results, leading the way in relocalization, green commerce, ecological design, environmental conservation, and social transformation.” Click here to read reviews of the book, the book’s Foreword (by Bill McKibben), Table of Contents, or an annotated bibliography.

Fundamentals of Integrated Design for Sustainable Building, by Marian Keeler and Bill Burke (John Wiley & Sons, 2009)— This book serves as an in-depth textbook for design students and a comprehensive reference for practitioners. It presents the history, issues, principles, technologies, process, and practice of sustainable building design, as well as case studies of model projects. In addition, it promotes active learning by providing design problems, research exercises, study questions, and discussion topics.

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February 25, 2010
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The following websites have some of the most well-presented and up-to-date, free online collections of case studies (or profile articles with in-depth project information) on green homes and green buildings around the country. They feature new construction as well as renovation projects.

These three sources provide case studies and information on residential projects only (primarily single-family homes):

[Feb. 2011 Update: See a more recent post that provides additional residential links.]

The following sites primarily feature commercial and institutional buildings, though they also include some case studies of residential projects:

  • High Performance Buildings Database provided by the U.S. Department of Energy and BuildingGreen. The case studies in this database are very comprehensive; they include information on costs, the team process, and lessons learned, as well as details on the projects’ green strategies and materials. Currently, the database contains case studies on more than 275 buildings, including more than 130 LEED certified projects. Note: In order to get full access to the case studies through the BuildingGreen site, you have to be a member/subscriber (which I believe is well worth the price if you’re actively involved or have a strong interest in green building). If you’re not a subscriber, you can get free access to complete versions of a subset of those case studies (112 of the 275) via the Department of Energy’s database (unfortunately, this site hasn’t been updated for a few years, so it doesn’t include the most recent projects that are posted on BuildingGreen). In addition, you can see complete versions of some of the LEED case studies via the U.S. Green Building Council’s site (select “Projects with Case Studies” on the search form), and case studies on the annual award winners of the AIA COTE (American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment) Top Ten Green Projects via the AIA’s website.

I have written many case studies on green building projects over the years. In addition to the two recent Green Building Advisor case studies mentioned above, I’ve prepared in-depth case studies on the David Brower Center, Berkeley; Alder Creek Middle School, Truckee; Colorado Court affordable housing, Santa Monica; the Linden Street Apartments, Somerville, MA, and other projects. Links to some of my published case studies are posted on MLandman.com.

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August 20, 2009
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The new California Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park recently opened its doors to the public. The building achieved the Platinum (top-tier) rating in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system. Designed by Renzo Piano, Stantec Architecture, and Arup, the 410,000-square-foot building is the largest public Platinum-rated project in the world (to date). Featuring a four-story rainforest exhibit, an aquarium, a planetarium, and an enormous (and hilly) “living roof” (AKA a vegetated or green roof) that visitors can access, the museum is proving to be wildly popular. If you go there soon, be prepared for crowds.

For details about the building’s sustainable design features, go to:
www.calacademy.org/academy/building/sustainable_design

If you’d like to know where other LEED Platinum buildings are throughout the country or the world, click here: LEED Platinum Certified Buildings Worldwide. I also developed an interactive Google map of green buildings in San Francisco, and I keep updated lists of green building projects in the San Francisco Bay Area and all LEED certified projects in Northern California.

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February 7, 2009
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