After our own Justin Thomas spent time recently at the Sidwell Friends School, a private middle school in Washington, D.C. that uses 70% less water and 60% less energy than a comparable school, a commenter on his post lamented the fact that all too often the green school in town is a private one. But there’s good news that could begin to change all that, because at their 75th annual meeting in Los Angeles recently, the 1,100-member U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) unanimously voted for a green schools resolution. The idea was conceived by Mayor Cownie of Des Moines and co-sponsored by 16 additional mayors, and ultimately it’s a plea to Congress for more funding for K-12 green school demonstration projects and research.Now I won’t hold my breath waiting for the money from Congress unless the public starts really letting their representatives hear about the issue, but the USCM believes that a better understanding of the environmental, economic, and health benefits of green schools is really a step towards meeting the "urgent need for healthier and more productive places of learning." That’s because “Studies show that children in green schools are healthier and more productive because of improved indoor air quality, lower levels of chemical emissions and a generous provision of natural day lighting," according to Mayor Cownie. He goes on to point out that "The benefit of cleaner indoor air quality--a key emphasis of green schools--have been linked to lower asthma rates, fewer allergies, reduced absenteeism, and increased teacher retention rates."
Hmmm…. With all the benefits slated above destined to improve a school system that serves some 55 million students and 5 million faculty and staff across the country each day, and with a recent study indicating that LEED certified schools cut roughly $100,000 a year from the energy bill despite a slight increase in building costs, it’s my bet that green schools are something we call can agree on. Who knows, maybe a green roof like the one above will be coming soon to a public school near you!