Green school trend sweeping US

Large windows and slanted ceilings to let in more light and toilet stalls made from recycled bottles and cans are just two of the green building techniques that have been used at Great Seneca Creek Elementary School.

The school, in Maryland, in the US, was the first school in the state to be awarded LEED Gold Status – but according to the US Green Building Council (USGBC) it is one of a growing number of schools that are turning green.

Tens of thousands of students across the country will be heading back to school this autumn to find that their classrooms have won certification under the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) scheme for schools.

Nearly 1,000 school buildings have met or are seeking LEED certification, with applications growing at a rate of more than one a day, the USGBC said.

In July alone, it certified more than 8m square feet of school space.

“Schools across the country are going green,” said Rachel Gutter, education sector senior manager for the USGBC.

“Green schools save operating costs for the district, create a better workplace for teachers, provide a healthier learning environment for students, and support a more sustainable community.

“Every school in America needs to be green, and increasingly our school boards, teachers, PTAs and students are demanding it.”

Figures green building firm Capital E has suggested green schools save an average of $100,000 a year – enough to buy 200 new computers or 5,000 new textbooks.

A study in North Carolina by green building consultants Heschong Mahone found two out of three students in classrooms with lots of daylight had consistently higher test scores.

A number of states and cities have begun to enforce green building requirements in all public schools.

Ohio requires all new schools and major renovations to earn LEED certification, and schools being rebuilt in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina are also being built to high environmental standards.

Kate Martin

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