Sunday, February 3, 2008

Journal #5: LEED Schools Program

So after learning a little more about LEED at the Focus the Nation lectures, I decided I should become way more acquainted with some of their practices. This was a goal of mine from the beginning of the semester as I was registered to take the Archie LEED course which was dropped a week before classes further reinforcing my distrust for their profession.

I checked the U.S. Green Buildings Council website and took a look at the only presentation I could get to work on my computer. It was a powerpoint on LEED certification in U.S. Schools. First I was unaware that schools were the greatest economic sector of the construction industry in 2007. However, most of the schools are built only to meet requirements and are subject to continual expensive maintenance practices. With about 20% of the population spending 6 hours a day in schools, it seems that much attention could be given to make the schools more accommodating.

So then they pitch the usual LEED buildings things of reducing waste, energy consumption, and making a more naturally comfortable environment. The effects on the building users are what I felt would be most different in schools than other LEED buildings. The presentation boasts that LEED schools have a 3% increase in user productivity and a 3% decrease in teacher turnover. I don't really feel that these will be the most beneficial effects. It would be interesting to see if there was a real decrease in high school dropouts in a school that was recently upgraded into meeting a lot of LEED standards. Also, I feel the greatest benefit would be the early environmental education that the LEED building would reinforce for students. At an early age kids could be fully aware of our environmental problems and what needs to be done to change things, and hopefully this could make an entire generation environmentally conscious from the start. This could trickle out to parents and communities easily, even though the change would be slow. This aspect goes along with my other post of how AASHTO is trying to educate the worker, not the manager. It is more important to educate on the seemingly lesser scale to really see an impact.

The LEED dudes also cite that meeting standards reduces costs by $100,000 a year on average. Although this is a great pitch, it might just result in government reduction of the education budget, which would be a tragedy. Still, I am glad to see the USGBC striving to see change in the schools.

1 comment:

Deanna said...

as long as the $100k gets put towards education! yes, green buildings should be everywhere, including schools, but as we'll see not all the leed criteria have a life cycle perspective.