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"A society built on green design, sustainable energy and closed loop systems, a civilization afloat on a cloud of efficient, non-toxic, recyclable technology." ~~Alex Nikolai Steffan

12.18.2007

What Moms Already Knew - Green Schools Improve Learning

There are 55 LEED certified "green" schools in the US and, according to E-School News, more school systems nationwide are beginning to realize the benefits of going green. Although, Leon County Schools have undertaken recycling efforts, there is not much else planned in the near future.

The National Green School Caucus was formed by Rep. Hooley, Oregon, Rep. McCaul, Texas and Rep. Matheson of Utah to raise awareness of the benefits of green schools. Currently no Florida members of the US House of Representatives are members of the Caucus.

Currently 24 projects in (mostly south) Florida are certified or registered to be considered for LEED certification (under the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green rating. None are in Tallahassee.

Schools are beginning to see a return on their initial investments through reductions in monthly energy costs. Another important side benefit has been a boost in student achievement resulting from more healthy, productive and comfortable learning environments. Examples include things that we Moms already know: daylight improves performance, good indoor air quality improves health, acoustics increases learning potential, mold prevention decreases asthma incidence and comfortable indoor temperatures increase student's overall satisfaction.

The LEED certification for schools, also considers joint-use agreements that allow other groups to use the facility and also has stricter requirements for features such as minimum acoustic standards.

Features of green schools include windows and skylights that admit daylight, materials that are chosen using life-cycle analysis, rather than making purchase price the leading criteria in a bid.

One of the benefits to green building is to match the environment with the type of energy efficient design. For example, the school district in Erie, Illinois, with flat terrain and strong winds is utilizing a wind turbine and a tubular wind tower to provide energy to three schools. The turbine is projected to decrease the schools' consumption of purchased electrical energy by 87%.

Another example is in Montgomery County Maryland which recently passed a requirement that all newly constructed public buildings obtain LEED certification. One elementary school in this county recently received a gold level of LEED certification using geothermal heating and cooling. Other green characteristics of the school include dual-flush toilets, with bathroom stall dividers made from recycled plastic.

One San Francisco School built a green playground to extend the classroom into the outdoors.

The National Energy Assistance Directors Association points out that although initial costs might be more expensive, green schools are less expensive to run and last longer.

For more information on green schools, go to Build Green Schools.



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