LEED® in the Classroom

More than anything else, sustainability is a living, growing and nurturing experience. Schools and colleges are finding that students and faculty respond to green initiatives. To add a touch of incentive to these educational awareness programs, the U.S. Green Building Council has approved the award of one LEED® point for every 10 hours of classroom instruction per year.The point award is received under the Innovation and Design component of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) rating system. What the USGBC has noticed is that students like to know about green initiatives. At one Texas school, familiarizing the students with the school’s solar panels, rainwater storage drums and recycling programs paid big dividends as students not only embraced the principles but also launched their own green initiatives.Soon carpooling helped to reduce traffic and additional bike racks were installed to accommodate a dramatic increase in cyclists. The President of Sustainaissance International summed it up; “The kids are excited. When it comes to green efforts, it’s almost like you should just move over and let them do it.”Joseph Sanchez is the facilities management director for the School District of Palm Beach County in Florida. One of the school board’s he sits upon had two doctors. The physicians were instrumental in encouraging green cleaning practices throughout the school system.Sanchez had become a believer. Attendance has improved, and everyone, including the student body, is helping. Sanchez has found that green cleaning is actually less expensive than conventional cleaning practices. Green products are usually either concentrates or foam soaps and are less expensive in the long run.What Sanchez has found is that green initiatives work in schools. The key is to create a team of students, faculty and administrative representatives and to brainstorm about green strategies. Sustainability guidelines need to be defined. When the group structures programs, the initiatives need to be taken to the school board for approval.The way Sanchez has sold green programs to school boards is to relate the savings to teacher’s salaries. In these days of budget stress, showing how sustainability can save jobs works for everyone.

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