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Green Schools for Healthy Children

Model Legislation

A bill to be entitled Green Schools for Healthy Children. This bill finds that green schools:

    1. Promote energy savings, effect positive environmental change, improve health and educational achievement, and provide hands-on learning experiences to students and faculty.

    2. Help diminish the nation’s fossil fuel usage, protect the environment, provide natural light to occupants, improve indoor air quality, and create a superior work/learning environment.

    3. Will assist in reducing buildings outsized carbon footprint, as the largest source of emissions and energy consumption in the US, contributing 42% of all carbon emissions, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

    4. Offer financial benefits to school districts and states ranging from four to twenty times the initial cost through energy and water savings.

The general purpose of this legislation is to:

    1. Provide various incentives for high performance schools in order to influence school districts to design, construct, and renovate schools to green certification standards.

    2. Create a clearinghouse of ideas and plans for school districts in (insert state) to use for design/ construction/ renovation of schools in the state, modeled on the CHPS program -

    3. Promote sustainable design including resource conservation to achieve an immediate 50 percent reduction from the current level of consumption of fossil fuels used to construct and operate new and renovated school buildings. This 50% reduction is possible through the use of CBECS standard:

    4. Include a comprehensive reporting requirement in which schools provide yearly data on student performance, facility maintenance, energy usage, and water usage.

Section (1) Definitions:

    a. “Green School” – School construction projects that receive certification from a green building rating systems, including the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System or the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes Green Building Rating System or comparable green building standard.

b. “High Performance School” - same as Green School, terms are interchangeable.

    c. “Environmental Benefits” - quantifiable and qualitative benefits received by students, teachers, and the community as a result of instituting high performance school programs. These benefits include less pollution, decreased water and energy usage, decreased sickness, and improved productivity.

    d. Green Building Certification Programs – LEED, LEED for Schools, Green Globes, and other comparable programs.

    e. USGBC - “USGBC” means the United States Green Building Council, a nationally recognized organization with a documented utilization record at the federal, state and local level that has developed sustainable building rating systems through transparent, collaborative, and consensus based processes that require independent certification.

    f. “LEED for Schools” – “LEED for Schools” means the LEED green building rating system designed by the USGBC that supplements LEED-NC with technical requirements that are specific to children’s health, school site issues, and educational facilities.

    g. “Public School” – “Public school” means schools owned, operated, or maintained by the __(insert state name)__, or a public charter school chartered by __(insert state name)__, and those schools’ educational facilities

h. “School Construction Project” –

    means the acquisition, development, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, improvement, architectural planning, and installation of capital facilities consisting of buildings, structures, durable equipment, and land for educational purposes.

    i. “Infrastructure Improvements” – improvements made to a school that enhance the current physical building stock. These infrastructure improvements can range from minimal to large-scale improvements.

Section (2) Incentives:

In order to promote the design and construction of green schools requirements must be matched with incentives. These incentives will vary, but the following can be adapted to individual states either alone or in combination. For example,

    1. Green building requirements will be applied to all new construction and renovation projects costing over $1 million with an increased reimbursement rate from the state to the local school district for said purpose. The reimbursement rate to municipalities for this purpose will be increased by five percentage points, such that if the current rate of reimbursement is 60% the new rate will now be 65%.

    2. A. There is appropriated from the general fund of the state each fiscal year for the fiscal period beginning July 1, 200X and ending July 1, 20XX the sum of $5 million to establish the green schools construction fund to be used exclusively for loans to school districts to construct schools that implement energy conservation measures, targets and green building standards as defined in this legislation.

    B. Concordant with this loan program a grant program will be established that provides $5 million yearly to school districts to construct schools to green building standards.

    C. These two programs will be administered through the __(insert state name)__ Energy Department. The Energy Department will be responsible for assisting schools in this state in installing renewable energy systems to provide electricity, energy savings, energy production, building heat, and educational opportunities to children in this state.

    3. The legislature recognizes that it is cost effective, beneficial for students health and educational achievement, environmentally advantageous, and an investment in __(insert state name)__ future to build schools that maximize energy efficiency, low water usage, renewable energy, and recycling technologies. Therefore the Department of Education will work with the __(insert state name)__ Energy Department to promulgate rules and standards for a maximum of three school districts in the first year of this program to participate in a green schools pilot project. These three school districts will be chosen by the State Board of Education by January 1, 2009 based on applications from school districts that meet the following requirements:

      a. One school district shall be in a county with a population of 1 million or more residents;

      b. One school district shall be in a county with a population of 250,000 to 999,999 residents; and

      c. One school district shall be in a county with a population under 250,000 residents.

Section (3) Rating Systems:

The legislature recognizes that green schools are beneficial to the state and its’ citizens due to their cost-effectiveness, health, and environmental benefits. As such, there is established the __(insert state name)__ Green Building Program which will utilize a recognizable green rating system, such as LEED for Schools, LEED, Green Globes, Energy Star, or other such equivalent rating system to certify schools. A locality may also train code or related building officials to certify such buildings in lieu of hiring a third party certification organization.

Section (4) Reporting Requirement:

School districts participating in the green schools program shall distribute to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a report which outlines the effects of green schools on student performance and health, operational costs, energy consumption, and the environment. This report shall be submitted exactly one year after a green school has been in full operation for a period of [2 or 3] years.


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