[PLUGGED IN] Going green and saving green
Harvest some greenbacks.
Yes, making your district’s building more energy efficient will help save the earth—but it could also save a lot of money if you follow recent federal initiatives. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating is awarded to schools that meet the criteria of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to save water and energy and improve air quality, resulting in boosting learning potential as well as increasing financial savings. USGBC reports that if all new school construction and school renovations went green starting today, the energy savings alone would add up to about $20 billion over the next 10 years.
One green facility is Fossil Ridge High School in the Poudre School District (PSD) in Fort Collins, Colorado. Opened in 2004, it was the second high school in the nation to receive LEED certification. Utility costs for the 297,000-square-foot building are approximately 40 percent less than for comparable PSD high schools. The building combines principles of sustainable design and systems with high-performance school learning environments to create an aesthetically pleasing school with three unique small learning environments. Jerry Wilson, superintendent of Poudre School District, says that students have noticed. “Students describe how features like natural lighting contribute to a positive learning environment in their classrooms,” he says.
Examples of other schools that have earned LEED certification around the country include several in Minnesota’s Elk River Area School District that utilize recycled building materials; Tarkington Elementary in Chicago, where the roof of the gym supports a flower garden to help insulate the building; Clackamas High School in Clackamas, Oregon, which sports an array of solar panels; and Arabia Mountain High School in suburban Atlanta, which features naturally lit classrooms. All of these schools are making their learning environments greener and, at the same time, more economical.
For information on green schools, go to www.usgbc.org.