National Attention for Green School Buildings

August 20, 2009

By Rochelle Davis, HSC Founding Executive Director

Tarkington1
Tarkington School

We recently had the opportunity to tour Tarkington School of Excellence
with Peter Grevatt, head of the U.S. EPA Office of Children’s Health;
Kate
Tomford, Director of Sustainability for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn; and
Suzanne Carlson, Director of Environmental Affairs for Chicago Public
Schools. Tarkington is the first green school in Chicago to be
certified by
the US Green Building Council under their
LEED program. (You can check out photos of the tour here.)

After hearing from Tarkington principal and HSC board member Vincent Iturralde and our student docents, it became even more clear what a positive impact
a green school can have on student performance and the environment. 

Unfortunately, most children do not have an
opportunity to learn in such a healthy environment. 

That is why I was so pleased to see both the
U.S. House and Senate take action to provide school districts with funds to support
green, energy efficient schools, focusing on schools that serve under-resourced
communities.

On the Senate side, Senator Harkin (D-IA) has introduced the School Buildings
Fairness Act of 2009 (S1121)
, which would provide $6 billion in grants for renovation, repair, and
construction of schools in 2010, and additional funds, as needed, through 2014.
These grants focus specifically on high-need schools and aim to encourage
the use of green, energy efficient practices. 
On the House side, Rep. Miller (D-Ca) introduced a bill
which would make $4.1 billion in grants available over two years for school modernization, renovation, and
repair.  This bill also establishes an Advisory Council on Green,
High-Performing Schools. 

Both of these bills would commit federal dollars to the
repair, renovation and maintenance of our nation’s existing school buildings as
well as to the construction of the next generation of healthy, high-performing
schools. In addition, the funds would be tied to the use of proven strategies for
energy efficiency and environmental sustainability – providing a healthier
environment for our students and teachers, as well as their wider communities.

This legislation is a vital next step for healthier school
environments, and HSC urges our legislators to sign on as cosponsors of these
bills.

You can be part of the national movement for green, healthy with Through Your Lens, HSC’s effort with our partners to show Congress why safe, healthy school buildings are so important. You can submit a photo or story about your school (winners will be exhibited in Washington, DC during the policy debate) or use the Through Your Lens Action Center to contact your elected officials and to the media.

Tarkginton2

Tarkington School