Green Schools Make Cents

Almost one quarter of America goes to school every day. Unfortunately way too many of these students and teachers attend schools that are inefficient do not foster learning in the best environment possible and are exposed to unnecessary health risks. These schools are also often wasteful of our resources and miss obvious opportunities to reduce operational costs. Fortunately now, both public and private schools are realizing that going green is a no-brainer.

Going green can often easily reduce $100,000 per year in operational costs. While that doesn’t always sound like that much in comparison to our total school budgets, think of that savings in terms of a couple new teachers salaries, thousands of additional textbooks and hundreds of new computers for that school. That is worth striving for and a great reason to go green. By promoting the greening of all schools, not only can we make a tremendous impact on the environment but we can also improve teacher retention, student health, and test scores while reducing school operational costs. So what are the key areas we should focus on?

Every child deserves to go to a school with healthy air to breathe and conditions that encourage learning. Green schools are healthy for kids and conducive to their education. Four key areas that these schools focus on include daylight, indoor air quality, acoustics and thermal comfort. Green schools encourage daylight and outside views since studies show that daylight improves student performance. It also keeps teachers healthy and happy and that reduces teacher absenteeism and teacher turnover which amounts to huge savings over the lifetime of a school.

Green schools also strive for better indoor air quality because we know that improves health. Building green means better acoustics because it improves learning potential and poor acoustics have been shown to negatively impact both the teacher and the student. Good acoustics in classrooms ensure that teachers can be heard without straining their voices. Finally, comfortable indoor temperatures have shown to increase all building occupant satisfaction but if done correctly, building methods can also reduce energy usage while improving thermal comfort. Our nation’s students and teachers deserve healthy and effective spaces for learning and teaching. You can make a difference by letting elected officials know our schools should be built, operated, and maintained green.