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AIA, USGBC Release ‘Guidepost’ for Green Schools

’’Our mission is green schools for all within a generation.’’ - Jason Hartke, U.S. Green Building Council

NEW ORLEANS (AIA) - The American Institute of Architects and the U.S. Green Building Council released a five-point national action plan that mayors and local leaders can use as a framework to develop and implement green schools initiatives.

The plan comes as part of a report - Sustainability: A Special Report from Sundance - unveiled at the 2011 AIA National Convention, where it was the topic of a two-hour panel discussion yesterday.

“This report should serve as a guidepost for many communities throughout the country that are looking for ways to implement green initiatives but fear the expense involved,” said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA. “In reality, the average school is 42 years old, and energy inefficiencies cost it approximately $100,000 a year, money that could be better spent on teachers, education materials, books or computers.”

The steps are based on tangible actions and are drawn from conversations that took place at Sundance and successful green schools initiatives from across the United States and include:

    • Connecting with the green schools movement.

    • Engaging stakeholders and raising awareness.

    • Building community support and capacity.

    • Making it happen, with benchmarking, policies and financing.

    • And celebrating success stories.

This special report stems from outcomes at the Greening of America’s Schools Summit, which took place November 2010 at the Redford Conference Center at Sundance, Utah. USGBC and its Center for Green Schools; the Redford Center, founded by Robert Redford; and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA, collaborated to host the Greening of America’s School Summit, which brought U.S. mayors and superintendents from cities across the country, along with leaders in green design, education, arts and green school advocacy to take part in an intimate discussion on the importance of greening school districts.

Jason Hartke, vice president for national policy at the U.S. Green Building Council, told the convention session audience that while progress has been made America’s schools are in a state of disrepair and there is a ‘’very strong need to take action now.’’

‘’This is the land of equal opportunity and if 15,000 schools have air that is unfit to breath we are not providing our children with that equal opportunity,’’ Hartke said. ‘’Our mission is green schools for all within a generation, within this generation.’’

Martin J. Chavez, Executive Director of the ICLEI, called the five-point plan and the green school initiative critical to America’s students.

‘’The Greening of Americas Schools Summit marked an important first step in realizing that the environmental quality of our schools is essential to our future and long-term well-being,’’ he said. ‘’As a result, Mayors and Superintendents came together to chart a new course toward healthy, sustainable schools where our children can grow and excel.’’

The report, which can be downloaded free-of-charge from aia.org/localleaders or centerforgreenschools.org/actionplan, notes that schools represent the largest construction sector in the United States, valued at $80 billion between 2006 and 2008. But it says most schools are designed to meet minimum standards, waste millions in energy consumption and fail to meet children’s needs.

Green schools, it says, can conserve energy and natural resources, save taxpayers money, improve indoor air quality, remove toxic materials from places where children learn and play, employ daylighting strategies and improve classroom acoustics, use sustainable purchasing and green cleaning practices and improve environmental literacy in students.

 
 
 

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