Why Green Schools Make Sense

The Facts about America’s schools

  • There are 60 million students, faculty, and staff in schools = 20% of U.S. population.
  • 60% of U.S. schools have major building features in disrepair.1
  • 33% of America’s schools have buildings in need of extensive repair or replacement2
  • 43% of schools have unsatisfactory indoor environmental conditions.3
  • 20% of schools have unsatisfactory indoor air quality.4
  • $322 billion are needed to modernize America’s schools.5
  • School building construction represents the largest construction sector in the U.S. – $80 billion in 2006-2008, about 27% of the U.S. construction market.6
  • Buildings use 72% of electricity, 39% of energy, 40% of raw materials, 14% of potable water, and produce 30% of waste.7

Financial benefits of Green schools

  • Green schools cost less than 2% more than conventional schools – or about $3 per square foot ($3/ft²) – but provide financial benefits that are 20 times as large.8
  • A Green school saves on average $100,000 annually – enough to hire 2 new teachers, buy 250 new computers, or purchase 5000 new textbooks.9
  • Green schools utilize 33% less energy and 32% less water than traditional schools.10

Health and Academic benefits of Green schools

  • Test scores and learning ability improves on average 3-5% – equating to an annual earning increase of $532 per student.11
  • Students with the most daylight progress 20% faster on math and 26% on reading tests.12
  • Asthma incidence decreases by 25%.13
  • Teacher Retention increases by an average of 3%.14
  • Teachers experience a 7% decrease in sick days.15
  • 75% of senior executives believe green schools improve a school’s ability to attract and retain teachers.16

Environmental savings of Green schools

  • 1,200 lbs of nitrogen oxides (NOx) – a principal component of smog.17
  • 1,300 lbs of sulfur dioxide (SO2) – a principal cause of acid rain.18
  • 585,000 lbs of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the principal greenhouse gas.19
  • 150 lbs of coarse particulate matter (PM10) – a principal cause of respiratory illness.20
  • 74% reduction in waste. 21

Conclusions on Green schools:

  • Green school design provides an extremely “cost-effective way to enhance student learning, reduce health and operational costs and, ultimately, increase school quality and competitiveness.”22
  • “Greening public schools creates an opportunity to improve the health and educational settings for all students, regardless of income or background, a process with clear moral benefits.”23

  1. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Condition of America’s Public School Facilities: 1999. NCES 2000-032, by Laurie Lewis, Kyle Snow, Elizabeth Farris, Becky Smerdon, Stephanie Cronen, and Jessica Kaplan. Bernie Greene, project officer. Washington, DC: 2000. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2000/2000032.pdf.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. School Facilities: “Condition of America’s Schools.” United States General Accounting Office. February 1995. http://www.gao.gov/archive/1995/he95061.pdf.
  5. “Modernizing our Schools: What will it Cost?” National Education Association. Washington, DC: 2000. http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/16/66/53.pdf.
  6. “Global Green Building Trends SmartMarket Report.” McGraw Hill Construction. 2008.
  7. Environmental Information Administration. EIA Annual Energy Outlook. June 2008. http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/demand.html.
  8. “Greening America’s Schools: Costs and Benefits.” by Gregory Kats. October 2006. A Capital E Report. http://www.cap-e.com/ewebeditpro/items/O59F9819.pdf.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. “Daylighting in Schools: An Investigation into the Relationship Between Daylighting and Human Performance.” Heschong Mahone Group. August 1999. http://www.coe.uga.edu/sdpl/research/daylightingstudy.pdf.
  13. “Greening America’s Schools: Costs and Benefits,” by Gregory Kats. October 2006. A Capital E Report. http://www.cap-e.com/ewebeditpro/items/O59F9819.pdf.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ibid.