Report Challenges the Benefits of Green Schools

Various studies and local jurisdictions have touted the benefits of green schools, a recent article in USA Today challenges the correlation between new environmental standards for schools, education performance, and energy savings.  USA Today performed its own review of available data to come to the conclusion that there is not a strong correlation between green buildings and other improvements.

. . . a USA TODAY review of school-test records, LEED-certification documents and research reports shows little correlation between “green schools” and student performance or energy use. Buildings can get certified by following standard school-construction practice and adding features unrelated to energy use or the interior, such as steps to reduce car trips and water use, ease light pollution and heat reflection, and limit parking capacity and storm-water runoff.

The most comprehensive report on green schools found no studies showing that they improve student learning or teacher success. The National Research Council in 2007 said that health, learning and productivity are “influenced by many individual family and community factors,” making it difficult to pinpoint a building’s effects. The report says students could benefit from school buildings that are dry, quiet, well-ventilated, temperature-controlled and clean.

In Maryland, LEED Silver is the standard used by the Interagency Committee on School Construction to determine a high performance school.  According to the regulation, “All new schools receiving State capital construction funding shall be high performance schools unless waived by the Interagency Committee on School Construction.”

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