A new advocacy program may be a catalyst for green schools and healthier students nationwide. As members of the U.S. Green Buildings Council's (USGBC) "Green School Advocates," dozens of architects, PTA presidents, school board members, school superintendents, and others from across the country are joining a grassroots effort to further the vision of green schools.
Sixty-four (64) Green School Advocates from USGBC chapters nationwide met in Washington, D.C., this fall to receive training to go back to their communities and organize green school committees. Local chapter Green Schools Advocacy Committees will work with decision-makers, parents, teachers, and others who are passionate about giving children the healthiest, safest places to learn and grow - all while saving school districts money, contributing toward mitigating climate change, and improving our environment.
"The local USGBC chapters are a critical component in the council's vision of green schools for every child within a generation," says Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president, CEO, and founding chair. "There are now chapter members from across America who are engaging in local outreach and education."
A 2006 study sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers, the American Institute of Architects, the American Lung Association, the Federation of American Scientists, and the USGBC found that building green would save an average school $100,000 each year in energy costs along - enough to hire two new full-time teachers, purchase 5,000 new textbooks, or buy 500 new computers.
In addition to superior IAQ, say USGBC officials, green schools, on average, use 33-percent less energy and 32-percent less water than conventional schools, which would bring the United States closer to reducing reliance on imported energy.
According to the USGBC, green schools' better lighting, temperature control, ventilation, and IAQ contribute to reduced asthma, colds, flu, and absenteeism, helping improve learning, test scores, and lifetime student earnings. Greening all school construction would also create more than 2,000 new jobs each year from increased use of energy-efficient technologies. Green schools also improve teacher retention. To get involved, or to find more information about the Green School Advocates program, visit (www.usgbc.org).