ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 70 - 08/27/2010

New 'Greening Our Schools' Guide Designed to Help State Legislators

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has publishedGreening Our Schools: A State Legislator's Guide to Best Policy Practices, debuting it earlier this month at the National Conference of State Legislatures' annual Legislative Summit.

 

The guide is intended to serve as a first-of-its-kind toolkit for green schools, a comprehensive guide for state lawmakers "who are developing policy solutions that improve the health, productivity, efficiency, and fiscal responsibility of schools in their state," USGBC stated. The toolkit is a product of USGBCs 50 for 50 Green Schools Caucus Initiative and is sponsored by the Turner Foundation.

 

"This toolkit will be instrumental in helping us achieve our goal of a green school for all children within this generation," said Illinois State Rep. Karen May (D), chairperson of the National Advisory Council for the 50 for 50 Green Schools Caucus Initiative.

 

"Green schools caucuses in 32 state capitals across the country are driving transformational policy that is being felt at the heart of communities across the nation," USGBC Chief of Staff Roger Limoges said.

 

USGBCs 50 for 50 program was launched in October 2008 to draw focus and attention in state legislatures to "the very real and powerful benefits of healthy, productive, and efficient school buildings."

The launch of the toolkit, and its peer-reviewed legislative menu of options for advancing a green schools agenda, supports state lawmakers who are working to develop and implement "smart and effective policy" in their states.

 

USGBC Official Provides Additional Comments
In an interview with GBI, Rachel Gutter, director of USGBC's Center for Green Schools, provided the following additional comments:

 

GBI: Besides the NCSL Legislative Summit and a press release, how else is USGBC making the availability of this guide known to state legislators? Is USGBC mailing the guide to all key state legislators?

 

Gutter: USGBC is sending copies of the guide to an established network of leading state lawmakers who are working to advance green schools within their legislatures. USGBC is working with its national network of chapters to reach additional legislative contacts. USGBC is making the guide available to all state legislators by request.

 

GBI: What additional information can you provide about the guide's content in terms of what specific facets of green construction are covered, what specific types of recommendations are made, etc.?

 

Gutter: To assist state legislators in their advocacy to advance green schools, USGBC developed Greening Our Schools: A State Legislators Guide to Best Policy Practices. This one-stop resource includes a broad sampling of best policy practices, the need-to-know details on successful green school initiatives, and a comprehensive communications and messaging guide. Additional resources include a glossary of key terms, a sample green schools resolution, project profiles, and fact sheets. Greening Our Schools incorporates recommendations from the 2009 USGBC Green Schools State Legislative Summit. Funded with the generous support of the Turner Foundation, USGBC convened 30 leading legislators from 25 states to discuss legislative solutions to green our nation's schools. The summit provided an opportunity for legislators to strategize with leading green building and education experts, and together share success stories and generate ideas to promote healthy, high-performance schools in this challenging economy.

 

GBI: What statistics, if any, can you provide regarding the number of states that have laws already in place that mirror what USGBC advocates for green schools, the current total number of green schools across the U.S., the number of schools out there that are without green certification of some sort, etc.?

 

Gutter: As of April 2010, 12 states and the District of Columbia have adopted green school policies for new construction based on LEED, including Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Washington, and Washington, D.C. For the latest list of public policy efforts, visitwww.usgbc.org/government. Already, over 2,000 schools have registered or certified with the LEED Green Building Rating System, with an additional 1-2 schools registering or certifying each day. For the latest listing, visitwww.greenschoolbuildings.org/. As of March 1, 32 states had formed green schools caucuses or working groups in their legislatures: Arizona; California; Colorado; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Maryland; Massachusetts; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Virginia; Washington; Wisconsin; and Washington, D.C.

 

GBI: What additional information can you provide about the 50 for 50 initiative in terms of what it is doing, what it has accomplished thus far, and how much of a success it has been thus far in USGBC's opinion?

 

Gutter: For additional information, visitwww.usgbc.org/50for50. Here is a fast fact on the 50 for 50 Green Schools State Legislative Summit: of the 350 green building bills that have been introduced in 2010 in state legislatures across the country, approximately 100 include specific green standards for schools, representing a dramatic 50 percent increase from prior to the USGBC State Legislative Green Schools Summit. Across the country, state legislators are playing a critical role to help ensure that all children will be educated in a green school within this generation. It's a privilege to work with the bi-partisan group of leading lawmakers who are part of the 50 for 50 Green Schools Caucus Initiative.

 

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