Encouraging Schools to Make Green Building Choices

March 16, 2007

by Mark Bishop, HSC Deputy Director

A major part of HSC’s 2007 environmental health legislative agenda is Illinois’ Energy Efficient School Construction Act (SB505), which gives schools incentives to make green building choices.

It allows the state to allocate an additional 5 percent to a school’s construction grant index if the school meets specific green certifications. This would encourage schools that receive state funding to build healthier and more energy-efficient facilities.

And why does that matter? State and national models of schools built with healthier, energy-efficient standards show multiple benefits, including higher student test scores, increased average daily attendance, reduced operation and maintenance costs, lower utility bills, increased teacher satisfaction and retention, and less negative environmental impact.

HSC’s healthy, high-performance schools website and free guide also show the benefits of these building decisions and the how-to of implementing them in schools.

Last week, by a vote of 8-2, the Illinois Senate Education Committee approved SB 505 (read our press release). Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago) had introduced the bill with the support of HSC and a coalition of allies.

Seeing the bill move forward is exciting –- and it means that we have work ahead to continue building the coalition of organizations and elected officials who can bring the bill to a successful vote in the Senate and introduce it in the House. Stay updated with our efforts at a website section we created to track this bill and related issues.

And if you’re interested in learning how you can make your school building healthy and efficient, sign up for our Lunch & Learn event in Chicago on March 29. Speakers include Tracee Binion, health and safety director for the Jefferson County (Ala.) American Federation of Teachers; Stuart Brodsky, architect at OWP/P Architects in Chicago; and Janice Spears, school planning consultant.