Where Schools Go, Others Follow

August 24, 2009

By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director

In a notable win for the environment, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently signed a series of legislation to help green the state.

I'm proud of two bills in particular because I like to think HSC played a role in getting them passed.

    The Green Buildings Act – requires all new state-funded building construction and major renovations     of existing state-owned facilities to meet green building practices

    Green Cleaning Act – requires every state-owned building to use only environmentally preferable     cleaning products

You see, in 2007, with our partners, HSC introduced and championed two bills that became law. One bill required green building practices and the other required green cleaning, both for all Illinois schools. So I'd say we helped pave the way for these new laws. I mean, if we can get schools to do it in 2007, shouldn't our state government do it as well today?

After taking that minute to pat ourselves on the back, I have to say this: the real message here is that schools are an important microcosm of our society. Where schools go, others follow. When we teach healthy practices in schools, students bring those lessons home to their parents. When we pass health-promoting policies for our schools, the political barriers to broader implementation are reduced.

At HSC, we believe that schools are the most important place for promoting health and environmental policy; they may also be one of the most effective places for beginning broad policy changes.