Congressman Jim Matheson this week announced the Capitol Hill kickoff of the Green Schools Caucus, drawing attention to the environmental, educational and health advantages of “green” schools. Matheson co-chairs the caucus with Representatives Robert Dold of Illinois and Ben Chandler of Kentucky.
“Energy-efficient schools cost less to operate. In Utah, where our resources are stretched thin, cost savings are critically important to the bottom line in our local school districts,” said Matheson.
Matheson notes that green schoolsвЂ”on averageвЂ”save $100,000 per year. That’s enough to hire two new teachers, buy 500 new computers or purchase 5000 new textbooks. With the cost on average less than $3 per square foot more to build, construction costs for a green school can be recouped in the first year of operation, based on energy savings alone.
Matheson was one of the original founders of the Green School Caucus when it formed several years ago as a way to educate and inform members of Congress on the benefits of improved energy-efficient construction on the nation’s new and existing school buildings.
The U.S. Green Building Council, which has established the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, says that a LEED-certified school:
- Uses 30-50% less energy than conventional schools
- Uses 30% less water
- Has better lighting and temperature controls, which promotes higher student achievement.
- Has a more comfortable indoor environment, improved ventilation and indoor air quality.
“With all the new schools on the drawing board in Utah, it makes a lot of sense to go green for students, teachers, parents and taxpayers,” said Matheson.