U.S. Mayors Champion the Greening of America’s Schools
Summary: To support the health and well-being of America’s students, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), unanimously supported a green schools resolution last month at its 75th annual meeting in Los Angeles. The resolution, introduced by Mayor T.M. Franklin Cownie of Des Moines and co-sponsored by 16 additional mayors, urges Congress to fund K-12 green school demonstration projects as well as new research to understand better the environmental, economic, and health benefits of green schools.
Citing the urgent need for healthier and more productive places of learning, the mayors issued the resolution on behalf of the 55 million students and 5 million faculty and staff who spend their days in school buildings. “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,” said Mayor Cownie. “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.”
In addition to significant health benefits, green schools cost less to operate and greatly reduce water and energy use, which generates significant financialsavings. “We’re in urgent need of action on this issue, so it’s great to see mayors take the lead,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO, and chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). “Green schools are healthier for students and teachers, better for the environment, and cost less to operate and maintain. We owe it to our children—and ourselves—to make all our schools green.”
To date, more than 30 schools have received LEED certification, and nearly 300 more are on a waiting list for certification from the USGBC. A recent study by Capital E, a national clean energy technology and green building consulting firm, indicates that a typical green school involves a 2 percent increase in cost, but would save $100,000 per year in energy costs alone—enough to hire two new teachers, buy 500 new computers, or purchase 5,000 new textbooks.