New City School's River Kids help plant the school's green roof in order to reduce water run-off. The school administrators want to save energy and provide a learning opportunity. Parents like the additional green space for their kids in an urban area. Looks like a winner all around. The segment by KMOV featured above provides some nice video of the plants on the roof. I like that the students worked on planting it instead of having it installed professionally. Kudos to New City School!
I have previously challenged districts with building initiatives like Rockwood to include green elements. Parkway is having public meetings where residents can voice their opinions. I'm sure other districts are also considering renovation projects.
Missouri is a bit behind with no LEED certified schools although one is expected to open in Kansas City next year. In St. Louis County, most schools are renovating, not constructing new buildings, which makes the LEED certification trickier. Ohio is requiring all new schools and major renovations to be LEED Silver certified and is helping with funding.
Julia Feder, a green schools advocate for the U.S. Green Building Council St. Louis Chapter, spoke last night (Tues. Feb. 12) to the Clayton school district about the advantages of building green and the "triple bottom line."
Good for environment
Good for economics
While building green costs 3-5% more, the payback time is 5-7 years. Obviously, schools last longer than that, so taxpayers benefit. The average green school saves $100,000 per year in operating costs.
❝Analysis of the costs and benefits of 30 green schools and use of conservative and prudent financial assumptions provides a clear and compelling case that greening schools today is extremely cost-effective, and represents a fiscally far better design choice. Building green schools is more fiscally prudent and lower risk than continuing to build unhealthy, inefficient schools.❞ (Greening America's Schools: Costs and Benefits, Gregory Kats, Capital E Report, pdf)
Good for health and wellness
An AIA (American Institute for Architects) report gives some promising data: 38.5 percent reduction in asthma because of improved air quality and 1.41 fewer teacher work days missed. (eSchool News) Improving kids' health because of better building design and implementation is a moral obligation.
Illinois has passed the Green Cleaning for Schools Act, which will help all schools take steps toward making schools a healthier environment. Will Missouri step up?
A Heschong Mahone Group study showed that daylighting, contrary to previous assumptions, doesn't decrease learning. Instead, students showed a 20-26 percent faster learning rate. I remember the middle school I attended with its miniscule windows. Sigh.
Studies have linked a decrease in ADHD behaviors to time spent in the outdoors. Outdoor classrooms are another component to green schools.
USGBC-STL is giving a presentation "Greening Your School and District 101: What do you need to know to take the first steps?" at Crossroads Preparatory School April 3 8-10 a.m.