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Study Results: Energy-efficient Schools Lower Costs, Improve Air Quality

November 2006 - Energy Efficiency

Building energy-efficient schools results in lower operating costs, improved test scores and enhanced student health, according to a new report, Greening America’s Schools. The report, produced by Capital E and co-sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), concluded that schools that are designed to be environmentally friendly would save an average of $100,000 each year.

Click here for the full report.

The report includes a detailed analysis of 30 green schools built in 10 states between 2001 and 2006, and it demonstrates that the total financial benefits of green schools are 20 times greater than the initial cost.

Findings documented in the report include:

• Green schools use an average of 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than conventional schools.
• Green schools typically have better lighting, and temperature control, improved ventilation and indoor air-quality which contribute to reduced asthma, colds, flu, and absenteeism.
• A study of Chicago and Washington, D.C., schools found that better facilities can add 3-4 percentage points to a school’s standardized test scores.
• Greening all school construction would create more than 2,000 additional jobs each year from increased use of energy efficiency technologies.
• The green school in Dedham, Mass., saved the town $400,000 in new sewer-system infrastructure by reducing stormwater runoff from the school grounds.
• A review of five separate studies by Carnegie Mellon University found a 38.5 percent asthma reduction in buildings, such as green schools, from improved indoor air-quality.
• One school district in North Carolina experienced a 33 percent increase in the percentage of students testing at grade-level for reading and math after moving to a green school.

"This study underscores the enormous cost of poor design and the critical impact that good design and operation has on the quality of our children’s education," says Kate Schwennsen, AIA president. "The findings indicate that there are tremendous benefits from energy-efficient school design, not only from an economic standpoint, but from increased student test scores and far healthier environments through improved indoor air quality."


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