Whilst the importance of this issue is beyond question, we must once again stand back to see what we are trying to achieve.
This is to enable the creativity for us to grow as individuals and contribute to solving our problems as societies, whilst continually reducing the resource intensity required to do this.
Measures of success are important, but they must be relevant to achieving this aim and measures, such as payback on construction investment and reading test results are not self-evidently so.
Success must be measured by how well students engage with their learning environment and its community, whilst being intimately aware of its functioning rather than isolated.
This is the essence of Education for Sustainable Development, defined here as “the leadership and management of educational institutions to maximize creativity and the value added to society, whilst working to continually reduce the resources used to enable it. The resource intensity of creativity.
Why (Green) Schools Matter
As this column was being written, Senate and House conferees were ironing out the final version of the stimulus bill. An unresolved issue is funding for school construction and related technology improvements — the House bill provided $21 billion, $15 billion of it for grades K-12; the Senate provided no funding.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine was one of the senators who called for axing school construction from the stimulus bill, calling it a worthwhile objective but saying that building and renovating schools didn’t create jobs and was misplaced in the economic recovery measure……….
…………But job creation isn’t the only benefit from green schools construction. Recent national metrics on the costs and benefits of green schools are extremely positive. The October 2006 report, “Greening America’s Schools: Costs and Benefits,” evaluated the green building experiences of 30 schools in 10 states from 2001-2006. Positive outcomes associated with green schools include:
• Energy Savings. The 30 schools evaluated reported a 33.4 percent average annual energy savings from going green.
• Water Savings. The 30 schools reported an average annual reduction in water usage by 32.1 percent. ……………
…………• Student, Faculty and Staff Productivity Benefits.Green buildings have also been associated with heightened teacher retention (up 5 percent in a Washington State study). Improved student attendance (reported improvements of 15 percent in Oregon and Washington State case studies) and test scores (3 percent-4 percent in Washington, D.C. and Chicago; 19 percent in Clearview, Pennsylvania) also have been associated with green schools. In Statesville, North Carolina, the percentage of elementary school children reading at grade level increased from 60 percent to over 80 percent after the children were placed in a new, green school……….
…………All told, Greening America’s Schools found that energy and water savings over a presumed 20 year holding period had an average net present value of $9.84 per square foot, more than three times the $3 per square foot average cost premium to build green. The energy and water savings alone were paid back within six years.
These investment metrics are compelling: New school construction is a good bet for job creation and student achievement, and green school construction is even better. Let’s hope that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle catch on sooner rather than later.
Complete article at http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2009/02/12/green-schools