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Green Schools

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#Green Schools #Sustainability at School and Work #Sustainable Buildings


Valencia Meredith

In an online search for “green schools,” seemingly hundreds of programs and certifications for sustainable school systems and management appeared in search results.  Each program has established its own criteria of sustainability and what it means for a school to be “green.” It seems necessary to question: what exactly is a “green school” and what does that entail? According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), there are various ways to describe a green school, but what they all have in common is that they are committed to environmental sustainability. Key features of a green school are a clean and healthy environment, resource efficiency, ecological courses integrated into the curriculum, nutritious food, and community sustainable practices (NAIS).

According to the Center for Green Schools, schools have a large impact on the environment and people. Its impact ranges from the quality of student learning to the health of staff and students. Did you know that 50% of American schools have reported poor indoor air quality (American Lung Association)? Low indoor air quality can result in health and respiratory issues that can cause asthma attacks, headaches weight gain, and cognitive impairment (USGB). No wonder parents are pushing for greener schools. Organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) eco-schools program and LEED’s Green School Initiative (GSI) are dedicating their resources to combating such issues through sustainable initiatives.

LEED’s Green School Initiative came up with a 7-step guide that a school can utilize to become a green school. Steps include: creating a green team; implementing an environmental vision and mission statement; conducting environmental audits; establishing an action plan; monitoring progress; integrating green curriculum; and “inform, involve, and celebrate!” (NAIS). The results of the guide should include improved utilization of available resources, better air quality through the elimination of toxins, healthy and nutritious meals, comprehension of sustainability, and more green spaces.

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