U.S. Green Building Council to Release Green School Guidelines

February 27, 2007

by Rochelle Davis, HSC Executive Director

As more industries work to make their products and procedures
environmentally responsible, green certifications programs help guide both
industry and consumers.

Recognizing the special vulnerability that children have to environmental
exposures and the special considerations in constructing schools, the U.S. Green Building Council
created a committee to draft guidelines for constructing green schools. The
USGBC recognized many differences between standard commercial construction and school
construction needs. Such differences can be noted in the addition of acoustical
standards for classrooms and the requirement that schools are not to be built
on landfills as to prevent potential toxic exposures. Public comment period
closed on February 23.

We believe that LEED for Schools
will be an important step forward to creating schools that provide healthy
learning environments while cutting schools’ energy costs. However, we also
believe that there are many considerations that should go into a new school that
would facilitate a healthy school environment. Last year HSC released our Illinois Guide to Healthy,
High Performing School Construction
which included less traditional
construction issues, such as access to hand washing facilities, a minimum
student to cafeteria size ratio, recommendations on commercial kitchen design
to facilitate healthy food preparation, and standards for school health center design.