Originally published in Interiors & Sources
Economic Recovery Proposal Includes $14 Billion for Greening and Renovation of Public Schools
The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) commends the U.S. House of Representatives for including $14 billion for green school construction and renovation as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The USGBC encourages the U.S. Senate to match this commitment to green schools so this investment can begin creating jobs and working for the millions of students, teachers, and faculty in need of better schools and classrooms.
Specifically, the House version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contains $14 billion for the energy-efficient modernization and renovation of K-12 schools designed to improve the health, safety, learning environment, and energy efficiency of our nation's aging public schools infrastructure.
"This legislation applies a number of different strategies to encourage economic growth. It creates jobs that cannot be shipped overseas, encourages the growth of the green technology sector, and invests in America's most crucial economic resource - our children," says Congressman Ben Chandler, lead sponsor of HR 3021, the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act, which passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support on June 6, 2008, and was also included in HR 7110, the Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act, which passed the House on Sept. 26, 2008.
"By making this crucial investment in our schools, we not only fix crumbling roofs and remove lead and asbestos, but also put new tools in the classroom, giving American students the preparation they need to compete on a global stage. I am so pleased to have been a part of this bill and its inclusion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," says Chandler.
Last month, a group of leaders in Congress called on the House and Senate leadership to support green-schools legislation as part of an economic-recovery plan. In the letter sent last month to Senate and House majority and minority leaders, as well as the chairman and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, 28 members of Congress cited the importance of the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act to revive the troubled U.S. economy.
In a September 2008 study, the Center for American Progress, and the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, found that a national green economic-recovery program investing $100 billion over 10 years in six infrastructure areas would create 2 million new jobs. A major piece of that program would include retrofitting existing publicly owned buildings, including schools.
"This bill would play a vital role in ensuring our nation is able to maximize scarce education resources by cutting school utility costs, all while nurturing student and teacher health, creating an ideal learning environment, helping secure our nation's energy future, protecting our environment against climate change and wasteful use of resources, and creating a generation of people who make responsible, healthy, green choices," says Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO, and founding chair, USGBC.
Support for HR 3021 is part of the USGBC's wider support for public policy that would ensure green schools for every child within a generation. The USGBC has worked with the energy and environment team of President Barack Obama's transition team to advance green building as a key opportunity toward economic recovery.
"By their very nature, schools are an investment in the future, preparing the next generation of leaders and paving the way for tomorrow's innovations. Because schools embody our hopes and aspirations for the future, we make an important statement about our dedication to that future by building, repairing, and operating schools in the most responsible and sustainable ways possible," Fedrizzi says.
For more information on green schools, including the USGBC's LEED for Schools Green Building Rating System, visit http://www.buildgreenschools.org/.