AIA and USGBC Advocate for Green Schools with Research, Education and Action: This Is One in a Series of Nation's Cities Weekly Articles Drawing on the Resources and Expertise of NLC's Corporate Partners

Article excerpt

One in five Americans go to school every day--as students, teachers, staff, or administrators. Developing high performance green schools that will positively affect a fifth of our population is a cause worth championing, particularly when the outcome will accrue to future generations. Our children deserve green schools.

Green schools are more than buildings. They are places where children learn the wonders of the world and teachers prepare the next generation of leaders and citizens. Green schools improve student performance and promote the health and well being of students in environments conducive to learning while saving money through energy and water efficiency. These high-performance schools enhance student achievement, save money and demonstrate environmental leadership. Green schools are transforming the environment in which our students learn and are creating a new generation of school buildings that will be centers of learning for the next 50 years.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) are working together on a report that explores how green schools are transforming local communities across America. The report--another in AIA's research series on local green building policy, called "Local Leaders in Sustainability"--provides a comprehensive research review of the economic and social benefits of green schools; the policy solutions being adopted at the local, state and federal level; and case studies of successful, cost-effective, well-designed green schools.

Schools can be designed to prepare students for a more successful future. In this latest "Local Leaders in Sustainability" report, green school case studies and best practices will be explored in every region of the country, from Cincinnati to Bryant, Alaska, to San Jose, Calif., and Charleston, S.C. Large cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C., are explored as are smaller communities like Hudson, Wisc., and Warren County, Ky. These schools in communities throughout country exemplify the power of designing green schools and the importance of integrating the lessons of these schools into the student curriculum.

In November, the USGBC in partnership with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), Local Governments for Sustainability and the Redford Center is holding a Green Schools Summit in Sundance, Utah. The summit, which AIA is sponsoring, will convene mayors and superintendents from 12 cities around America as well as educators and students, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and artists to engage in two days of learning, dialogue and shaping action plans that will address the importance and various challenges of greening America's schools.

The dialogue and outcomes of the summit will inform the final green schools report and provide the AIA and USGBC with local government input from mayors, superintendents and other experts in attendance, ultimately helping communities continue their impressive work greening America's schools. …