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AIA and USGBC advocate for green schools with research, education and action: this is one in a series of Nation’s Cities Weekly articles drawing on the resources and expertise of NLC’s Corporate Partners.

One in five Americans go to school every day–as students,

teachers, staff, or administrators. Developing high performance green

schools that will positively affect a fifth of our population is a cause

worth championing, particularly when the outcome will accrue to future

generations. Our children deserve green schools.

Green schools are more than buildings. They are places where

children learn the wonders of the world and teachers prepare the next

generation of leaders and citizens. Green schools improve student

performance and promote the health and well being of students in

environments conducive to learning while saving money through energy and

water efficiency. These high-performance schools enhance student

achievement, save money and demonstrate environmental leadership. Green

schools are transforming the environment in which our students learn and

are creating a new generation of school buildings that will be centers

of learning for the next 50 years.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the U.S. Green

Building Council (USGBC) are working together on a report that explores

how green schools are transforming local communities across America. The

report–another in AIA’s research series on local green building

policy, called “Local Leaders in Sustainability”–provides a

comprehensive research review of the economic and social benefits of

green schools; the policy solutions being adopted at the local, state

and federal level; and case studies of successful, cost-effective,

well-designed green schools.

Schools can be designed to prepare students for a more successful

future. In this latest “Local Leaders in Sustainability”

report, green school case studies and best practices will be explored in

every region of the country, from Cincinnati to Bryant, Alaska, to San

Jose, Calif., and Charleston, S.C. Large cities like Chicago and

Washington, D.C., are explored as are smaller communities like Hudson,

Wisc., and Warren County, Ky. These schools in communities throughout

country exemplify the power of designing green schools and the

importance of integrating the lessons of these schools into the student


In November, the USGBC in partnership with the International

Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), Local Governments

for Sustainability and the Redford Center is holding a Green Schools

Summit in Sundance, Utah. The summit, which AIA is sponsoring, will

convene mayors and superintendents from 12 cities around America as well

as educators and students, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and artists

to engage in two days of learning, dialogue and shaping action plans

that will address the importance and various challenges of greening

America’s schools.

The dialogue and outcomes of the summit will inform the final green

schools report and provide the AIA and USGBC with local government input

from mayors, superintendents and other experts in attendance, ultimately

helping communities continue their impressive work greening

America’s schools. A facilitated discussion at the upcoming NLC

Congress of Cities on green schools also will provide the AIA and USGBC

with the opportunity to discuss the report outcomes with the conference

delegates who are and will continue to be the nation’s green

schools champions.

“In my mind, the issues that we are facing in the environment

and education are inextricably linked and I believe that this convening

can lead to creative ideas and bold solutions and that people like you

are key to creating them,” said Robert Redford, chair of the

Redford Center and host of the summit.

The Green Schools Summit is meant to provide decision makers with

effective tools for greening schools and education. The objectives of

the summit are to first understand the complexity of greening

America’s schools and, as a result, positively explain the

importance of making it happen.

Local government leaders can make a tremendous impact on student

health, school operational costs, test scores and the environment. The

green school itself also serves as a teaching tool by demonstrating

practical ways that we can create healthier, more efficient and even

less costly learning environments for students, faculty and parents.

Brooks Rainwater is director, local relations, for AIA, and Jason

Hartke is vice president, national policy, for USGBC.

NLC Corporate Partners Program

The NLC Corporate Partners Program promotes the exchange of ideas

between corporate leaders and the leaders of America’s cities in

order to strengthen local government, encourage economic competitiveness

and promote corporate civic engagement. For more information, visit

www.nlc. org

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is the national

organization representing members of the architectural profession. With

membership of more than 80,000 and nearly 400 state and local chapters

nationwide, the AIA works to achieve a better, more sustainably built

environment and unites the profession behind policies aimed at creating

a higher quality of life.

The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a

501 c3 nonprofit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable

future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green

buildings. With a community comprising 78 local affiliates, more than

18,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 140,000 LEED

Professional Credential holders, USGBC is the driving force of an

industry that is projected to contribute $554 billion to the U.S. gross

domestic product from 2009-2013.

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