Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Benefits of Green Schools

. Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Washington, D.C., October 31, 2006 — A new national report, Greening America’s Schools, reveals that building energy-efficient schools results in lower operating costs, improved test scores and enhanced student health. The report, produced by Capital E and co-sponsored by The American Institute of Architects (AIA), concluded that schools that are designed to be environmentally friendly would save an average of $100,000 each year – enough to hire two additional full-time teachers.The report includes a detailed analysis of 30 green schools built in 10 states between 2001 and 2006, and demonstrates that the total financial benefits of green schools are 20 times greater than the initial cost, and include energy and water savings, and improved student health and test scores. With over $35 billion dollars projected to be spent in 2007 on K-12 construction, the conclusions of this report have far-reaching implications for future school design.

Click here for the full report:

“This study underscores the enormous cost of poor design and the critical impact that good design and operation has on the quality of our children’s education,” said AIA President Kate Schwennsen, FAIA. “The findings indicate that there are tremendous benefits from energy-efficient school design, not only from an economic standpoint, but from increased student test scores and far healthier environments through improved indoor air quality.”If all new school construction and school renovations were designed to be environmentally conscious starting today, energy savings alone would total $20 billion over the next 10 years. Major benefits documented in Greening America’s Schools include:

• Green schools use an average of 33% less energy and 32% less water than conventional schools

• Green schools typically have better lighting, temperature control, improved ventilation and indoor air-quality which contribute to reduced asthma, colds, flu and absenteeism

• A study of Chicago and Washington, D.C. schools found that better facilities can add 3 to 4 percentage points to a school’s standardized test scores

• Greening all school construction would create over 2000 additional new jobs each year from increased use of energy efficiency technologies.

Study author and Managing Principal of Capital E, Greg Kats, a former Director of Finance for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the US Department of Energy, has worked with dozens of corporations, developers, state agencies and organizations to arrive at conservative cost/benefit comparisons of different environmental and building strategies. Kats stated that, “The financial benefits of green schools are substantially broader than those quantified in the report and include the creation of new educational opportunities, improved equity in education and insurance savings. Building green schools is more fiscally prudent and lower risk than continuing to build unhealthy, inefficient schools.”Specific school findings include:

• The green school in Dedham, MA saved the town $400,000 in new sewer-system infrastructure by reducing stormwater runoff from the school grounds. (page 8)

• A review of five separate studies by Carnegie Mellon University found a 38.5% asthma reduction in buildings – such as green schools – from improved indoor air-quality. (page 10)

• One school district in North Carolina experienced a 33% increase in the percentage of students testing at grade-level for reading and math after moving to a green school. (page 12)