The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced the launch of The Center for Green Schools, an initiative aimed at “the ambitious goal of ensuring everyone has the opportunity to attend a green school within this generation.”
The center will work “to engage educators in creating sustainable learning environments for their students and applying solid research to inform leadership—from school boards to college presidents—about the benefits of healthy, high-performing schools,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president and CEO.
USGBC also announced that United Technologies Corp. is the first Founding Sponsor of the Center for Green Schools. Through a multi-year, multimillion-dollar financial commitment, the company will help the Center for Green Schools lead schools across the nation toward the goals of becoming green and more energy efficient, and will help build hundreds of LEED-registered education projects in the next few years, the council said.
The USGBC said there are nearly 140,000 schools, colleges and universities in the United States, and noted, “No one has ever counted the buildings, but thousands are barely built to code.”
The council said green schools provide fresh and clean air that improves health, additional daylight that boosts concentration, comfortable temperatures that increase focus, and improved acoustics that enable better communication. Green schools also use less water and energy, making them less expensive to operate.
USGBC said United Technologies’ support will help the Center for Green schools “raise the volume on USGBC’s efforts to drive wholesale change in how schools are designed, constructed and operated so that they enhance the learning experience for students and save money for school districts and higher education institutions.”
“At USGBC, we understand the profound impact green buildings have on our lives and the innovation they have poured into the marketplace, and we believe no other market speaks more powerfully to the benefits and potential of green buildings than our schools,” Fedrizzi said.
Sandy Diehl, United Technologies vice president, integrated building solutions, said the company’s commitment demonstrates “its strong support for sustainable building design and construction, as energy efficiency is a hallmark of UTC products. We believe the greening of school facilities will have the added benefit of educating our next generation of leaders about the benefits of sustainable building design.”
USGBC said The Center for Green Schools builds on its Green Schools and Green Campus campaigns by convening conversations with key decision makers, collaborating with leading education and environmental associations, and creating tools and resources that help make green schools possible.
The council also said a Center for Green Schools Advisory Board and Honorary Advisory Board has been formed; the panel is made up of green advocates, experts, educators, philanthropists, and other key stakeholders. Current members include green-schools pioneer Jayni Chase, environmental activist and philanthropist Kelly Chapman Meyer, and renowned author and environmental studies and politics professor David Orr. Honorary Advisory Board members include National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel and National PTA President Chuck Saylors.
The center’s director, Rachel Gutter, said, “We believe every child in America and throughout the world should have access to an environment that greatly improves their learning experience.”