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Survey Suggests ‘Green’ Schools are a High Priority with Most Americans

Monday, October 10, 2011

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According to a nationwide poll, three out of four Americans support federal investment in school-building improvements related to creating healthier learning environments, saving tax dollars or lowering carbon emissions.

The independent survey, sponsored by United Technologies Corp. and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools, indicated that one in three of those surveyed said the majority of U.S. schools are in “poor” shape. Only 6% said U.S. schools are in “excellent” shape, USGBC reported.

More than 1,000 Americans participated in the survey, which was conducted by GfK Custom Research North America.

 Hood River Middle School

 Opsis Architecture/Michael Mathers

A case study on Hood River Middle School in Portland, Ore. was included in a green schools report issued by the American Institute of Architects and the USGBC. See 'Summit' on Schools Proposes Lofty Goal.

“Americans understand the importance of our nation’s school infrastructure and see the urgent need for significant investments,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president and CEO.

“Too many of our schools are outdated, woefully energy-inefficient, unhealthy and negatively affect our children's ability to learn—and ultimately to compete in a global marketplace,” Fedrizzi said. “In 2008 alone, the U.S. deferred an estimated $254 billion in school facility maintenance, and inadequate investment into maintaining our nation’s school infrastructure has led to a significant number of schools in need of major repair and replacement. That’s unacceptable.”

 Manassas Park Elementary

 VMDO Architects/Sam Kittner

Manassas Park Elementary School in Manassas Park, Va. is LEED- Gold certified and integrates the building with the surrounding forest.

USGBC also said the U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that at least 25,000 U.S. schools are in need of extensive repair and replacement.

The organization also said that on average, green schools save $100,000 per year on operating costs—enough to hire at least one new teacher and purchase 200 new computers or 5,000 textbooks. (See Kats, Gregory, et.al. Greening American’s Schools: costs and benefits, Capital E, 2006.)

If every U.S. school new construction and renovation went “green” today, the total energy savings alone would be $20 billion over the next 10 years, the organization said.

USGBC says “green” schools use 33% less energy and 32% less water than conventionally constructed schools. In addition, the group says one green school can reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 585,000 pounds annually.

USGBC said a survey of green school administrators indicates that 70% reported reduced student absenteeism and improved student performance.

“A green school is an energy-efficient school—meaning less money is spent on overhead like heating and cooling and more can be spent on keeping teachers in the classroom and getting them the resources they need,” said Sandy Diehl, vice president, Integrated Buildings Solutions, United Technologies Corp., and a Center for Green Schools advisory board member.

“Investments in green school buildings generate positive outcomes in classrooms and communities everywhere. Investing in our school infrastructure today is an imperative,” Diehl said.

The Center for Green Schools was launched in 2010 by the USGBC with United Technologies as the founding sponsor. The Center’s goal is to facilitate change in the design, construction and operation of the country’s schools so they will generate savings through improved energy efficiency and enhance student performance, USGBC said.


Tagged categories: Eco-efficiency; Energy efficiency; Environmentally friendly; Green building; Green design; Industry surveys; Renewable raw materials; U.S. Green Building Council

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