A recently released white paper called Greening America's Schools: Costs and Benefits, authored by Greg Kats, a Managing Principal of Capital E, a national clean energy technology and green building firm, conclusively demonstrates the financial, environmental, and other benefits of using green technologies in schools.
In fact — the study goes on to say — failure to invest in green technologies is not financially responsible for school systems.
The study estimates that some 55 million students spend their days in schools that are often unhealthy and restrict their ability to learn. A growing trend in school design is to create spaces with the specific intent of providing healthy, comfortable and productive learning environments.
The report states that "green schools" use an average of 33% less energy than conventionally designed facilities. Typically the energy savings come from more efficient lighting, greater use of natural light, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems and better insulated walls and roofs.
Building a "green school" is no longer a trend. It has become a standard and a necessity for the financial and academic viability of learning institutions at all levels — kindergarten through university. Early on, it was tough to garner support for building green. There were higher upfront costs and green building materials weren't always readily available. Today, however, building green is supported to a much greater extent, making it easier for educational and corporate office developers to build green.
Here's a list of organizations (national, regional, and local) that support the green school movement.
U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools - A voluntary awards program for K-12 schools that conserve natural and energy resources, reduce costs, maximize learning opportunities, foster wellness and integrate environmental themes across curriculum.
The American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment - The ACUPCC is a pledge made by colleges and university presidents on behalf of their institutions to pursue climate neutrality in campus operations, to promote the education, research and community engagement needed for the rest of society to do the same, while publicly reporting their progress.
Mayors' Alliance for Green Schools - This collation of mayors from small towns and large cities seeks to harness local-level leadership and creativity to promote the benefits of green schools in their communities.
Congressional Green Schools Caucus - United in the belief that healthy environmentally friendly schools promote learning, save taxpayer money and benefit everyone, this caucus brings together leaders across political parties to educate and inform members of Congress on the enormous impact they have on our nation's approach to new and existing school buildings.
For additional reading, check out the full report: Greening America's Schools: Costs and Benefits
And learn about NOVA's commitment to the environment and green school learning spaces.