Education Week - November 29, 2017 - S15
Built Into Mission
At 'Green Schools'
Designs aim to save money while
boosting climate for students, staff
hile it was still in the design stage, plans for
Discovery Elementary School in Arlington, Va.,
included making it the largest zero-energy
elementary school in the country-meaning it
produced as much energy as it used-and the
first in the mid-Atlantic region.
The school not only accomplished those
goals under budget, it generated more clean energy than it used in 2016,
making it what's known as a "net-positive" building that feeds electricity
back into the local grid.
So-called "green schools" like Discovery can save money, protect the
environment, and positively impact student performance and health,
say advocates, educators, and architects with experience in school
construction. But districts and schools must consider both design and longterm operation and maintenance of a building in order to create a truly
"If you're spending money on resources but aren't being smart and
strategic about how you're using them, you wind up being wasteful,"
said Anisa Heming, the director of the Center for Green Schools at the
U.S. Green Building Council, which developed the Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system to evaluate a building's
There are 1,883 LEED-certified K-12 schools in the U.S., including
approximately 30 net-zero energy schools. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich
last month recognized the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission
for surpassing 300 LEED-certified K-12 schools in the state-well
ahead of second-place California's 148. The recognition followed a long
process for the facilities commission, which first mandated the use
of environmentally friendly design techniques in state-funded K-12
projects in 2007.
"There has been a great deal of natural interest in these concepts from
our state's architectural community, which has made our implementation
of these design elements a lot easier than one might expect," said Rick
Savors, a spokesman for the commission.
Other states that have emerged as leaders in the green-school movement
include Texas, despite its hot climate, and Kentucky, which has both
IMAGE: Paula Ospina/Education Week
BY ROBIN L. FLANIGAN