Build Schools? USGBC Announces Effort to Make them All Green, LEED

From a USGBC press release: The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced its newest initiative The Center for Green Schools at USGBC. There are nearly 140000 schools colleges and universities in the United States; no one has ever counted the buildings but thousands are barely built to code. The Center for Green Schools is how USGBC is working toward the ambitious goal of ensuring everyone has the opportunity to attend a green school within this generation.

“At USGBC we understand the profound impact green buildings have on our lives and the innovation they have poured into the marketplace and we believe no other market speaks more powerfully to the benefits and potential of green buildings than our schools” said Rick Fedrizzi President CEO and Founding Chair of USGBC. “The Center for Green Schools at USGBC is engaging educators in creating sustainable learning environments for their students and applying solid research to inform leadership – from school boards to college presidents – about the benefits of healthy high-performing schools.”

USGBC also announces United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) as the first Founding Sponsor of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. Through UTC’s multi-year multimillion-dollar financial commitment the Center will lead hundreds of schools across the nation to becoming green and more energy efficient and will help build hundreds of LEED registered education projects in the next few years.

“UTC is once again honored to partner with USGBC a world leader in sustainable buildings” said Sandy Diehl UTC Vice President Integrated Building Solutions. “This multi-year multimillion-dollar commitment demonstrates UTC’s strong support for sustainable building design and construction as energy efficiency is a hallmark of UTC products. We believe the greening of school facilities will have the added benefit of educating our next generation of leaders about the benefits of sustainable building design.”

UTC’s support as Founding Sponsor will help the Center raise the volume on USGBC’s efforts to drive wholesale change in how schools are designed constructed and operated so that they enhance the learning experience for students and save money for school districts and higher education institutions.

Green schools provide fresh and clean air that improves health additional daylight that boosts concentration comfortable temperatures that increase focus and improved acoustics that enable better communication. Green schools also use less water and energy making them less expensive to operate.

The Center is building upon the leadership partnerships and programming USGBC started through its Green Schools and Green Campus campaigns by convening conversations with key decision makers collaborating with leading education and environmental associations and creating tools and resources that help make green schools possible.

Through the Center USGBC is escalating its work on green schools caucuses in the U.S. Congress and the 50 for 50 Initiative with state legislatures nationwide; the nationwide Mayors’ Alliance for Green Schools; and the Coalition for Green Schools which represents more than 10 million members collectively and comprises organizations such as the National PTA the National School Boards Association the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. The Center is creating new resources and advocacy tools to support USGBC Student Groups on college campuses and a nationwide network of more than 1000 Green School Committee professional volunteers and is focused on providing trainings and helpful resources to those who need it most – K-12 schools serving lower-income families under-resourced institutions and community colleges.

“The U.S. Department of Education is committed to being a partner in the efforts to build an environmentally literate and sustainable society” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The U.S. Green Building Council is working with school districts and universities to incorporate green technology into schools through its Center for Green Schools. These schools not only are good for the environment they provide a better learning environment for students—and they are cost efficient. Im especially excited to hear that this fall that one of the Center’s programs The Coalition for Green Schools will be reaching out to groups beyond education in the private and public sector.”

A Center for Green Schools Advisory Board and Honorary Advisory Board made up of green advocates experts educators philanthropists and other key stakeholders has also been formed. Current members include green schools pioneer Jayni Chase environmental activist and philanthropist Kelly Chapman Meyer and renowned author and environmental studies and politics professor David Orr. Honorary Advisory Board members include National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel and National PTA President Chuck Saylors.

“We see an opportunity to educate a new generation of leaders we call sustainability natives who are capable of driving global market transformation toward green schools” said Rachel Gutter director of the Center for Green Schools. “Our job is to equip the people who make the case the people who make the decisions and the people who get things done by elevating and accelerating important conversations with district and campus stakeholders and providing the tools and resources to help make transformation possible. We believe every child in America and throughout the world should have access to an environment that greatly improves their learning experience.”