Bill Clinton, Green Building Council Launch Effort To Green US Schools
Chicago - Today at the world’s largest green building exposition in Chicago, Greenbuild 2007, former President Bill Clinton announced a joint commitment to green all of America’s schools within a generation.
Earth Day Network (EDN) – a Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) partner – and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) joined former President Clinton in making this announcement to the American public and media. Today’s event formally kicked-off Earth Day Network’s national Green Schools campaign, which includes three major initiatives: greening all new and existing school structures within a generation; developing and building healthier play areas and recreational facilities for all students; and working to greatly improve the food children eat in K-12 schools. Along with USGBC and the Clinton Foundation, Earth Day Network will expand the green schools movement through legislation, education, and corporate and community volunteer greening efforts.
“Earth Day Network is proud to be a leader in the national green schools movement and to work with President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation to green America’s schools,” said Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers. “Today’s announcement is a major step forward towards providing every child with a healthy learning environment.”
For the past three years, Earth Day Network has aggressively promoted the greening of the nation’s K-12 schools. With an emphasis on low-income communities and focusing on greening school construction bond initiatives as well as greening school and outdoor recreational facilities, EDN has conducted a number of pilot projects in major US cities to test different models for greening U.S. schools. EDN draws on our organizational assets: community-based organizations, teachers, local and national corporate partners, green architects, and others. The success of the pilot projects and long history of working successfully with teachers, PTAs, and school administrators, led EDN to develop a long term national campaign to green all of the nation’s K-12 schools.
“Greening America's schools presents a unique opportunity to significantly address a number of societal concerns, from climate to health and even test scores, all at once,” stated Sean Miller, EDN’s Director of Education.
About Earth Day Network
Earth Day Network, www.earthday.net , seeks to grow and diversify the environmental movement worldwide, and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle for promoting a healthy, sustainable planet. It pursues these goals through education, public policy, and consumer activism. Current grassroots programs include the Climate Change Solutions Campaign, Campaign for Communities, and the National Civic Education Project. Earth Day Network works with more than 25,000 K-12 teachers in the U.S. alone. Earth Day Television, www.earthdaytv.net , greatly expands EDN’s reach to a global network of more than 17,000 partner organizations in 174 countries. More than one billion people participate in Earth Day civic activities, making it the largest secular civic event in the world. The 39th Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22, 2008.
Why Green Schools?
On average, a green school typically utilizes 33% less energy and 32% less water than a traditionally designed school – enough savings to hire two additional full-time teachers. The largest construction industry in the U.S. – approximately $80 billion in 2006-2008 – is school buildings, while buildings themselves account for 38% of U.S. CO2 emissions.
EDN is focusing on green schools as a key component to create healthier communities. Green schools have better teacher retention rates, and are increasingly credited with improving student performance.
The green building movement represents a unique worldwide opportunity to improve human health, conserve natural resources, educate the public, and fight climate change, and school greening is an essential part of this process. Why? Because every day, 60 million children attend U.S. schools: about twenty percent of the population. More than 25 million children receive almost 50 percent of their food from U.S. public schools. By the time students graduate from high school they will have spent more than 24,000 hours in buildings that overall are unhealthy. Because of crowding, budgetary restraints, and the intensity of the use, U.S. schools experience a much higher density every day than any other public buildings and an extraordinary degree of wear and tear.
A variety of factors, including changing demographics and other social change factors, combine to raise serious concerns about the educational facilities that our children attend. The demands on schools to perform academically have increased, placing additional burdens on school teachers and administrators. As a result, issues other than the structure, safety, and healthfulness of the nation’s school buildings are given priority in school budgets. But academic research now bolsters what we already know intuitively: a clean, quiet, safe, comfortable, and healthy environment is critical to successful teaching and learning. An effective and readily available solution to the environmental, health, and educational conditions in today’s schools is the adoption of green schools. School greening is an excellent way to promote on-site, interdisciplinary learning through projects that increase green space, green buildings, and biodiversity in communities. Green schools protect student and teacher health, improves student performance by as much as 25%, lower operating costs which can be used for teachers’ salaries and other improvements, and provide unique educational opportunities.
School-wide conservation efforts such as installing more energy-efficient products and building outdoor classrooms can help students build leadership skills, learn about environmental issues, and make conscious decisions that lead to better environmental stewardship. This process is catalytic, inspiring continued action and environmental learning that fosters civic action in the community by students and other community stakeholders. The benefits of green schools are astounding if one appreciates the sheer potential for change from an economic, educational, and environmental standpoint.
A green school (or building) can lead to the following annual emission reductions, not to mention health benefits, per school:
· 1,200 pounds of nitrogen oxides (NOx) – a principal component of smog;
· 1,300 pounds of sulfur dioxide (SO2) – a principal cause of acid rain;
· 585,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the principal greenhouse gas and the principal product of combustion;
· 150 pounds of coarse particulate matter (PM10) – a principal cause of respiratory illness and an important contributor to smog.
The educational rewards for going green are equally impressive. Green schools directly reduce teacher sick days and student absenteeism, increase state test scores and staff productivity, reduce social inequity, enhance student motivation in both the short and long term, and provide an educationally rich setting. In one landmark study by Turner Construction, student performance was depicted as “24% much better” and “47% somewhat better” under green design. Taken as a whole, sustainable school design provides an extremely “cost-effective way to enhance student learning, reduce health and operational costs and, ultimately, increase school quality and competitiveness.”
Green schools also offer a multitude of economic benefits. A recent review of 30 green schools nationwide found that “green schools cost less than 2% more than conventional schools - or about $3 per square foot - but provide financial benefits that are 20 times as large.” On average, a green school typically utilizes 33% less energy and 32% less water than a traditionally designed school – enough savings to hire one additional full-time teacher. EDN believes that education, especially environmental education, is fundamental to remedying the root causes of many environmental degradations and promoting a sustainable environment in all schools. Therefore, school greening offers an exceptional triumvirate approach (environmental, educational, and economic) to a multitude of problems and creates numerous possibilities for ultimately solving longstanding concerns.