The Green Schools Movement Has Come of Age

At its second annual conference, the green schools movement today witnessed an informed and passionate keynote from none other than Arne Duncan himself, the U.S. Education Secretary. In it, Sec. Duncan proclaimed that green schools are “engines of innovation” and “critically important” to paving the way for America’s educational system and student-body to be competitive in the 21st century. The Secretary also declared that the “green schools movement had come of age” and that this conference, along with the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program, represented “a turning point”. Green schools are going mainstream and “debunking the myth of skeptics” that there have to be any “trade-offs” with respect to green school-related investments. For example, the Secretary cited the now common data point that a certified green school can save $100,000 per year on operating costs – the equivalent of 2 full-time teacher salaries on average, 250 new computers or 5,000 new textbooks.

Earth Day Network’s Education staff were in attendance at the conference and were excited to hear that our leadership, along with the U.S. Green Building Council, the National Wildlife Federation and the Campaign for Environmental Literacy, was highlighted by Sec. Duncan as exceptionally praiseworthy for advancing the green schools movement. Furthermore, the Secretary also emphasized the work that our Education team has done with Raymond Kellis High School in Glendale, AZ instituting a renewable-energy vocational program and also our early efforts in 2006 to mandate all new schools built in Ohio to be “green”. With respect to the Ohio example, 315 schools have gone through the green schools process statewide since the 2006-2007 school year, and the Secretary noted a recent finding that the first 250 schools alone will save Ohio taxpayers $1.4 billion over the next 40 years! Now that’s an investment worth talking about and replicating nationwide!

We are especially proud to hear the U.S. Education Secretary declare so loudly and effectively that “green schools are a win-win” investment for school communities across the nation. Earth Day Network believes this to be true as well, and we are excited to further advance the green schools movement into all school communities nationwide in the coming years.


See the full speech by Sec. Duncan here: