Pennsylvania Builds Green Schools

Who wins with environmentally friendly schools? Everyone. The Governor's Green Government Council in Pennsylvania has found that kids get an educational advantage from green building, and taxpayers benefit financially. Buildings like Clearview Elementary School in Hanover use the latest in ecological design and technology to produce a school that is a teaching tool itself.Clearview maximizes the daylight reaching all educational areas of the school (as well as overlooked spaces like hallways), following a California study showing that test scores rise with exposure to natural light. Where supplemental lighting in necessary, high-efficiency bulbs reduce energy use and sensors dim the lights when the sun is bright or a room is unoccupied. Local hemlock siding reduced hauling energy, and wheatboard offered a renewable alternative to particle board. Temperature is controlled in part by passive solar heating, but also by a system of ground-source heat pumps and geothermal wells exchanging heat with the constant subterranean 55-degrees Fahrenheit.

Teachers can then incorporate properties of the building into lessons about science and the environment. As one student was overheard saying, "This building makes me smarter."

With an annual 40% energy savings compared to a conventional school, in nine years the school will make up in savings the additional $150,000 it cost to build green. But the value to the earth and the students will keep paying. ::GGGC [by KK]

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