Healthy, Efficient and Innovative: Green Schools Legislation Draws Broad Support

June 19, 2008

by Rochelle Davis, HSC Founding Executive Director

Thanks to all the legislators who made big strides this month toward creating a high-quality learning environment for America’s public schools, reducing schools’ negative impact on our environment, and keeping cash in our schools’ coffers to use for education rather than high utility bills.

The 21st Century Green High-Performing Public Schools Facilities Act, just passed by the House of Representatives, would provide school districts nationwide with $6.4 billion to modernize and renovate school buildings — improving schools’ energy efficiency, bringing schools closer to green building standards, and promoting a healthier environment for students and teachers.

This act marks the first time since 2001 that schools would receive meaningful funding to upgrade facilities, and the first time ever that lawmakers have put green facilities front-and-center, a move that will save significant cash over time. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, energy-efficient schools can reduce their energy usage by 25 percent, creating a nationwide savings of $1.25 billion and 23 million fewer tons of carbon emissions.

By 2013, 90 percent of this act’s funding would be put toward green projects, ensuring that benefits will keep rippling through school districts as they improve indoor air quality and use greener construction methods.

HSC works to promote healthy, energy efficient schools through resources such as our Guide to Healthy, High Performing Schools and events such as our recent breakfast briefing on schools and climate change. HSC also successfully advocated for legislation requiring that all new schools built in Illinois meet energy-efficient green design standards.

We applaud the lawmakers who supported this important federal legislation, and look forward to continuing the work of helping schools protect our environment while providing the best possible learning experiences for children.