Many American schools were built before World War II, and many more were built with cheap, non-durable, inefficient materials during the 1950’s and 1960’s. So, it’s no surprise that education is the leader in the non-residential building market for both new construction and renovation. Schools that have gone green have found that they not only save money, but they improve the health of their students and staff, boast higher teacher retention rates, and have students with higher achievements, better behavior, and improved attendance.
Over a quarter of the American population either works for, or is a student at, a school or a college. Enrollment in K-12 schools is expected to rise every year through 2019. The U.S. Green Building Council found that an average school could save $100,000 each year in energy costs, which is enough to hire two full time teachers to accommodate this increase!
A study, Greening America’s Schools: Costs and Benefits, reviewed 30 green schools and found that green building costs about $3 per square foot more than traditional building, but that the operating costs save $70 per square foot. The cost savings alone make it worth building green, but the improvement of student and staff morale is the icing on the cake.
Antiquated and overcrowded school buildings have higher teacher turnover rates, higher instances of crime, and students with poor behavior and attendance. Green school buildings offer improved indoor air quality, temperature control, and lighting. Not only is building quality correlated with student achievement and health, but buildings are often integrated into student curriculum to teach about sustainability and social responsibility. There is no question that building green schools is a winning recipe for a sustainable and successful future.