Friday, May 10, 2013

The Compelling Case for Green School Construction



Harrison Middle School LEED Cafeteria in Albuquerque, NM. Image Credit:
Is it finally time for schools in Canada to turn to green construction? As staunch believers in green construction, we at Norsteel have talked at length about the benefits of green construction for commercial, industrial, and home buildings. But there is one more category we have not covered: schools.

People have been talking about green schools for quite a while now. Even green certification body LEED has released a LEED for Schools protocol. There are a number of organizations that support the idea of putting up more green schools as well, like the Alliance to Save Energy, the Green Schools Alliance, and the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association.

So, why should we divert our attention to green schools? There are several benefits that stakeholders—from the students to government officials—stand to gain by converting to green construction. As early as in 2006, a report entitled “Greening America’s Schools: Costs and Benefits” has outlined the positive benefits of green schools.

1. Energy and Water Savings

Just like commercial and industrial buildings, green schools will result in huge energy savings. In fact, the report showed that as much as 33.4% annual energy savings were gained from 30 green schools as compared to conventional schools. The same goes for water savings, where there was a reduction of water usage by as much as 32.1%.

2. Health Benefits to the Students, Faculty, and the Staff

The most compelling benefits, perhaps, are health improvements. According to case studies, there was as much as 15% reduction on common illnesses like asthma, colds, and flu. This is particularly beneficial for children, as roughly 1 in 10 children suffer from asthma.

3. Productivity Benefits to Occupants

The benefits to the occupants are not only limited to health benefits. Even their productivity will be improved. Case studies in Oregon and Washington showed that there was as much as a 15% improvement in test scores! These findings are not remote because the same have been reported in places like Washington, DC (4%) and Cearview, Pennsylvania (19%).

Obviously, these benefits are too hard to dismiss. Without a doubt in our minds, green school construction is a definite must!

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