By Rachel Gutter, Director, The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council
(This article appears in the September, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)
There are more than 3,800 projects participating in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building program on campuses across the United States. In fact, colleges and universities have a higher percentage of LEED-certified green space than any other sector, including government, retail and hospitality. While notable, colleges have only just begun to scratch the surface of transforming their aging campuses. Today, there are more than 83,000 college buildings comprising 3.48 billion square feet on campuses across the country. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has a vision to ensure green schools for everyone within this generation and, new this year, USGBC is launching its Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. The Center will support sustainability and green building for everyone from the kindergartner entering the classroom for the first time to the Ph.D. student performing research in a lab.
Under the umbrella of the Center for Green Schools, USGBC will continue to implement its Green Campus Campaign and work directly with staff, faculty, students and administrators to expedite the transformation of all campuses into sustainable places to live and learn, work and play. USGBC defines a green campus as a higher education community that improves energy efficiency, conserves resources and enhances environmental quality by educating for sustainability and creating healthy living and learning environments. The Center for Green Schools at USGBC was established to elevate and accelerate important conversations with campus stakeholders, collaborate with leading organizations and utilize tools and resources to help make this transformation possible. We are working to ensure that students of all ages will have the opportunity to learn in an environment that enhances their academic experience.While every institution’s path will be different, the core commitment of colleges and universities to create greener campuses transcends school type, size and location. The Center for Green Schools provides guidance, programming and resources for all members of a campus community, including:
- The Roadmap to a Green Campus: The Roadmap is a strategy for using the LEED® green building certification program as a framework for developing and evolving campus-wide sustainability plans. LEED provides a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green campus solutions. The Roadmap references more than 100 tools and resources to support campus greening efforts, profiles institutional success stories and was created with the support of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
- The Paid-from-Savings Guide to Green Existing Buildings: This guide helps facilities managers and energy service companies leverage utility cost savings to fund comprehensive green building retrofits. The resource provides detailed information on how to aggregate green improvement measures and achieve LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance certification.
- Hands-on LEED: Guiding College Student Engagement(coming soon): This document is for campus staff and faculty to learn how to involve students in green building projects and facilitate their contributions to the LEED certification process. Specifically, the guide outlinesthree options for engaging students – course work, internships and volunteer opportunities – and provides implementation options for each.
The Center for Green Schools is eager to continue the work of advancing green building at under-resourced, higher education institutions, including minority serving institutions and community colleges. In 2011, the Center will collaborate with Second Nature, the United Negro College Fund and the American Association of Community Colleges to support opportunities and resources for these institutions. Building upon our existing programs and resources, we will extend the knowledge and benefits of green building in these communities.
At USGBC, colleges and universities are our allies in the green building movement, and we expect to see continued results and innovation as institutions address existing building needs with carbon reductions in mind. A green campus is bigger than the lifecycle of its buildings, grounds and infrastructure. The ability to utilize research, pioneer technological innovations, engage the community and encourage partnerships provides a unique opportunity to serve as leaders for the creation of new and revitalized green communities.
Our vision of green schools for everyone within this generation will require an integrated approach to planning and implementing sustainability initiatives. To learn more about the ways the Center for Green Schools at USGBC can serve as a central resource for your institution, please visit our new website: centerforgreenschools.org.