When Global Green USA started greening schools more than a decade ago, there were still a lot of questions about how and why, and whether or not the investment was worth it.
We’ve come a long way since then, but those questions still arise. After we launched our first Green School Makeover Competition, we came up with our 3 R’s of green schools:
- Rise in student performance levels and teacher retention
- Reduction in carbon emissions and toxins
- Renewed hope in education and the future
Let’s start with health, a topic that is affected by all three of these R’s. A green school is built with more natural daylight, better ventilation, and healthy green building materials, such as tiles, carpeting, insulation, and paint that are formaldehyde-free and low-VOC. Non-toxic cleaning supplies also make green schools healthier and more comfortable environment for students, teachers, and other school employees. We hear time and time again that attendance is up in green schools because of better indoor air quality – and that reports of asthma attacks and allergies are down.
We have also learned that green schools increase student performance, with a marked rise in test scores. Studies have shown that student test scores can improve up to 20% when kids learn in green classrooms that provide more natural day lighting, improved classroom acoustics, and healthier building materials that don’t release toxic chemicals into the air. This can also improve teacher retention and provide more stabile learning environment for kids.
Sometimes, the bottom line is what impresses the most. Take, for instance, this startling fact: In the United States, we spend more on energy costs for schools than we do on textbooks and computers combined. Thankfully, green schools reduce utility costs by an average of 20% and also save on resources such as water. The winner of our first Green School Makeover Competition, the Texas School for the Deaf, installed water filtration systems so they could eliminate the cost of spending $20,000 a year on plastic water bottles.
Reduced energy usage means a big reduction in carbon emissions as well. Our work on green schools began in Los Angeles (where we have our headquarters) and we estimated that building 34 new green schools in LA would reduce 94,000 tons of CO2 – the equivalent of eliminating more than 15,000 cars from the road every year, or planting more than 280,000 trees.
When schools – and parents – take the extra step of educating their children about the benefits of green living, our work can have reverberating effects. Because we’re fighting climate change and protecting our planet for future generations to enjoy a healthy planet, we will be empowered if we educate and engage the next generation.
Take action! Enter Global Green’s Green School Makeover Competition before March 30: www.globalgreen.org/makeover2013
For more on green schools, visits www.GlobalGreen.com/GreenSchools.