National Green Schools Spotlight: October 2008
USGBC’s Fifty for Fifty Initiative
The U.S. Green Building Council kicked off its Fifty for Fifty initiative in September, working with state lawmakers in all 50 states to promote green school buildings. USGBC’s goal is for every state legislature in the nation to have its own caucus or working group of lawmakers advancing green schools. Inspired by the success of the Congressional Green Schools Caucus, the Fifty for Fifty initiative will build on widespread participation in USGBC’s LEED for Schools certification program, which has over 1,000 green schools projects registered in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
For more information, see USGBC’s press release, and contact your state representatives to encourage them to bring a Green Schools Caucus to your state legislature.
Mayors Alliance for Green Schools
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels announced on October 1 the formation of the Mayors Alliance for Green Schools, a coalition of mayors seeking to strategically harness the leadership and creativity of mayors across the country to promote the benefits of green schools in their communities. Developed in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, the Alliance will to work to accelerate implementation of programs supporting the 2007 U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) resolution calling for green schools for all children within a generation.
“As first responders to the needs of their communities, mayors are the vanguard of sustainable development in our country,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of USGBC, “and USGBC wants to do all we can to support them, especially in this critically important initiative. We have Green School Advocacy Committees in 80 local USGBC chapters throughout the country, and we are putting them at the mayors’ disposal to advance opportunities, programs and initiatives that champion green school causes and help them publicly celebrate their successes.”
Together with Mayor Diaz and Mayor Nickels, Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco, Cal; Mayor Will Wynn, Austin, Texas; Mayor Frank Cownie, Des Moines, Iowa; and Mayor George Heartwell, Grand Rapids, Mich.; have put forth a call to mayors around the country to join this important effort to support green schools for all children.
Mayors across the country are leading efforts to deliver the benefits of green schools to their communities. For example, in Miami, San Francisco, and Chicago, EcoMedia is working with mayors to leverage innovative public‐private partnerships that create new opportunities for green school projects.
Other Alliance initiatives will work to:
- Develop and create public‐private partnerships with a local business to allow schools to plant a green roof, install a solar garden or start a recycling program.
- Help school districts green their existing facilities through the Clinton Climate Initiative’s K‐12 Retrofit Program.
- Encourage state legislatures to create policies and incentives for green school improvements.
- Engage in a national dialogue about green schools, green jobs and green infrastructure.
First LEED Gold Public High School
Can you imagine building a LEED Gold school for 38% less than your region’s construction average? Four years ago architects at Hoffman LLC and the Northland Pines School District imagined doing just that. Today, their vision is a reality. Northland Pines High School, in Eagle River, Wis., is the first LEED-certified high school in the state, and the first LEED Gold public high school in the United States. The school was built for $115 per square foot, more than a third less than the regional high school construction average.* In addition to saving on upfront costs, the school saves dramatically on their utility bills; Northland Pines High School was designed to be 40% more efficient than the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 baseline building.
The Northland Pines School District worked with the local communities to pass a referendum of $29 million to replace a seriously deficient high school building with a new high-performance school. The district made the commitment to deliver a green school and provide an exceptional learning environment with a lean, responsible budget and ongoing energy and water savings. “By partnering with the architect, we were able to realize our vision of creating a building that set a positive example of responsible sustainable design and construction solutions, and provided a tangible learning tool that enhanced our curriculum,” said Michael Richie, Northland Pines District Administrator.
Contractor and architect Hoffman LLC assisted the community in developing a facility that incorporates daylighting and the use of low-VOC paints, adhesives and carpeting in order to provide an indoor environment that is conducive to learning. An efficient HVAC system and efficient lighting and plumbingBeyond measures to conserve energy, 83% of the demolished former school and construction waste from the new school was recycled. A crew of Amish workers reclaimed large laminated beams, and removed and remilled wood flooring that will now enhance future projects. Recycled content makes up nearly 25% of the total building material cost, and more than half of the materials used in construction were manufactured within 500 miles of the school. High ceilings and low-emitting window coatings reduce heat loss, and photo sensors take advantage of daylight in classrooms and decrease the use of interior lighting. Two large basins retain storm water on site.
The new facility not only serves students in the district, but also provides the community with recreational and cultural opportunities, and provides priority parking to encourage car-pooling or bicycling. Mr. Richie described the achievement as, “an honor not only to be recognized for the design and construction of a Wisconsin school on the leading edge of sustainability, but also to be involved with a project that had such a positive impact on the community.”
*Construction Report (PDF)
Green Schools on Capitol Hill
Just one year after its formation, the Congressional Green Schools Caucus has nearly 60 members and is the fastest-growing caucus on the Hill.
In October 2007, with the active support of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the House of Representatives Green Schools Caucus was created by founding co-chairs Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore., Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. The bipartisan caucus is working to raise awareness of the benefits of green schools, lead the policy discussion on the topic in various forums, create legislative opportunities for the collective efforts of the caucus Members, and provide members of Congress with constituent outreach resources. Caucus members and their staffs regularly participate in educational programs to learn what is going on nationally and in their districts, including site visits to green schools and educational panels with teachers, architects and school officials from across the country.
"The Green Schools Caucus is an outstanding opportunity to help our schools save money, help society save the environment and, ultimately and most importantly, help make sure our children are attending classes in the safest indoor environments possible," McCaul said.
Just six months after the caucus launched, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 3021: the 21st Century Green High-Performance Public School Facilities Act. This progressive resolution would dedicate $20 billion over the next five years to states for the construction and renovation of healthy, green schools. The funding specifically supports green schools projects built to LEED and other green building and energy standards.
USGBC chapters play an important role in promoting and supporting the work of the caucus. This past September, more than 30 USGBC chapter members came to Washington to meet with their representatives. Chapter advocates met with staff and Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, educating them on the benefits of green buildings and legislative opportunities to advance this important work, and encouraging them to join the Green Schools Caucus.
Find out if your Representative is a member of the Green Schools Caucus. If your member of Congress is not listed, contact him or her and explain how important green schools are to you.
HR 3021: 21st Century Green
High-Performance Public School Facilities Act
Six months after the formation of the Congressional Green Schools Caucus, the House of Representatives passed HR 3021 – the 21st Century Green High-Performance Public School Facilities Act. The bill dedicates more than $20 billion to green school construction over the next five years and includes language promoting the use of LEED. Seeing such a progressive piece of legislation on behalf of green schools at this national level is a victory for the green schools movement.
For more information on the bill, please read a message from USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi.
Education efforts are essential to ensure all students live in sustainable cities and communities and attend green schools. As a community of leaders working to make green building accessible to everyone within a generation, USGBC supports educational efforts to make use of the built environment as the context for learning across grade levels and curricular areas. To help us reach this goal, we have taken on three main initiatives:
- Identify and award models of excellence in green education.
- Disseminate resources and tools to support curriculum integration and program development.
- Build strategic relationships among educators and organizations working on green education efforts.
Read more about these initiatives and find tools to use in your school’s classrooms on USGBC’s Educator Resource Center.
2008 Educators' Summit at Greenbuild
Friday, November 21, 2008; 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Join leading educators to explore revolutionary ideas and best practices for using the built environment as the context for exploring topics such as sustainability and climate change. Educators Summit attendees learn about tools and resources to help students gain understanding and take informed action on campus and within their schools and communities. During interactive breakout sessions, attendees will share success stories, address common hurdles faced in this effort, and explore solutions for overcoming these challenges. Learn more about the event and register online.
2009 USGBC Incentive Grants & Recognition Awards Program
Requests for proposals to be released December 2008
This program identifies high-quality educational programs, integrating green building across the curriculum to serve as models and resources for other educators. Learn more about 2008 winners and check back for the RFP in early December 2008 on USGBC’s Educator Resource Center.
State & Local Policy Adoptions
As of September 2008, 10 states and the District of Columbia require green school construction. Districts across the country continue to demonstrate that green schools are a priority for their communities. Recent policy adoptions in Anchorage, Alaska, and the state of Florida are two exciting initiatives solidifying a commitment to bringing healthy, green facilities to students and teachers across the country.
On June 25, 2008, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law HB 7135, which declares that buildings built and financed by the state be designed and constructed to comply with LEED or other green building rating systems. Other public entity buildings, including school districts, will adhere to the same requirements if submitting design plans after July 1, 2008.
On August 12, 2008, the Anchorage Assembly adopted Ordinance 2008-93, requiring all new municipal buildings, including new private construction for municipal leasing or renting, and major renovations of existing municipal buildings, to be LEED-certified. Beginning July 1, 2012, the minimum level required will be increased to LEED Silver. The ordinance also requires all Anchorage School District building construction and renovation over 20,000 square feet to earn LEED certification. The Department of Development Services will refund 100% of the expedited portion of building permitting fees for public and private projects that earn LEED certification. In addition, 10% of the regular portion of building permitting fees for public and private development will be refunded for projects that earn LEED Certified status, 15% for LEED Silver, 22.5% for LEED Gold, and 35% for LEED Platinum.
For more information on these and other state and local green school policy adoptions, please visit USGBC’s list of LEED Initiatives in Governments and Schools.
From the Desk of:
Emily Knupp, Schools Sector Associate, U.S. Green Building Council
With nearly 126,000 K-12 schools and 60 million students, teachers and staff in the U.S., the need to operate and maintain our educational facilities in an efficient, healthy and environmentally responsible way is paramount. To green all of our schools, we must green our existing facilities too. That is why this year we will focus many of our resources and efforts on existing schools. Using the new LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance as its foundation, the Green Excellence in Existing Schools Toolkit (Green Ex²) will help schools and school districts crack the code when it comes to greening school operations and maintenance (O&M).
In April of 2007, USGBC launched LEED for Schools, a rating system designed to address our two most precious resources: the earth and our children. In the time since LEED for Schools was released, an average of one school project registers for LEED certification every day – each day taking us one step closer to fulfilling the vision that every child will attend a green school within a generation. Today, there are more than 1,000 schools that are LEED certified or pursuing certification. Yet the majority of these projects are new construction or major renovations.
The Green Ex² Toolkit, available in 2009, will help school facilities teams green their entire portfolios of existing and, in many cases, aging and unhealthy schools. School districts that successfully use Green Ex2 will more easily meet the need to maintain healthy and safe learning environments and achieve utility savings for their budgets. The Toolkit will include a Best Practices Manual, a Guide to Policies, Programs and Plans, and training resources that will guide schools in greening their O&M and achieving LEED certification.
The Green Ex2 Toolkit is being created with the help of a dozen school districts that have been selected to participate in the LEED for Existing Schools pilot program. Pilot districts receive $35,000 worth of resources and instructor-led trainings; all other schools and school districts are invited to participate in the pilot as “Companion” participants. Companion schools and districts receive access to all Web-based trainings, tools and resources.
Find out how your school or district can become a Companion participant.
Ask an Advocate:
Marilyn Juban, National Capital Region Chapter
Green Schools Committees now operate in 78 chapters across the country. These committees work to carry out the vision of USGBC’s National Green School Campaign – to bring a green school to every child within a generation. Advocates work hard to educate their communities about the benefits of green schools through seminars, green building tours, and other community events.
One such dedicated advocate is Marilyn Juban, from the National Capital Region Chapter. As Business Development Manager with the Arlington, Va., office of Gilbane Building Company, Marilyn has brought her engineering expertise into the design and construction of many green building projects around the region. Marilyn volunteers her free time to chair the NCR Chapter’s LEED for Schools Committee. This summer, Marilyn led a planning team for the first annual Sustainable Schools Summit: Greening Schools in the National Capital Region. The event brought together over 200 school administrators, facility managers, teachers, parents, students, and design and construction professionals to discuss best practices, success stories and available tools for greening schools in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association, delivered an inspiring keynote address to kick off a full day of education sessions on green school construction, operations, curriculum and advocacy.
USGBC: What was your motivation for planning the Sustainable Schools Summit?
Marilyn Juban: About a year ago, I realized that our chapter’s focus was on sustainable buildings, but didn't center on the great need for greener schools here in the National Capital Region. I quickly discovered that enthusiasm for such an event in this area was not something I held alone, as when I asked for volunteers to join a planning committee for a Sustainable Schools event, we were able to put together a strong and diverse group to plan a great event. As others have given me opportunities to learn and grow in my understanding of sustainable construction methods, I hope that our chapter can continue to provide similar opportunities to the local teachers, administrators, and all those interested in reaching our vision of greening all schools within a generation.
USGBC: What are some lessons you learned from planning the event?
MJ: Without the support of others I would not have been able to complete the mission of holding this event. I was pleasantly surprised over and over again at the enthusiasm and the willingness from others on my planning team to work together toward a common goal. The diverse group of planning committee members helped us attract a diverse group of stakeholders to speak on topics such as "greening the curriculum" and sharing "roadmaps to leadership of successful green schools".
USGBC: What were the valuable takeaways from the Summit?
MJ: The day itself ended up being everything we envisioned it could be. The participation of the group was energizing. It's obvious that there is momentum in the right direction toward greening all schools in the National Capital Region, and now each and every Summit attendee is armed with a few more ideas about how to make that vision a reality. One participant even suggested that we have future sessions on Monday instead of Friday, so that they can leave the event and immediately begin to share and disseminate the information they gained with those at their schools the next day! This event helped re-energize my commitment to helping our local schools truly implement greener, healthier and more sustainable buildings for their students.
USGBC: Where does the NCR Chapter go from here?
MJ: There is so much to learn from the success stories of schools in our local region, and I found that all the schools involved in the Summit are looking for the same thing – more tools and information to help build a case for green schools in their districts or schools. We plan to continue the dialogue with those who took the time to reach out and join our event. We found that there is already an interest in learning more about green schools presentations, information on LEED for Schools technical reviews, and receiving our USGBC NCR Chapter newsletter. I have no doubt that the enthusiasm from this year's event can and will translate to an even bigger and better educational event in 2009.