Few issues facing our society are more important than creating schools that are healthy, conducive to learning and sustainable.
Yet our schools are often unhealthy and neglected, impairing our children's learning and undercutting our educational system. Through the greening of America's Schools, we have the opportunity to improve the health and education of our children, inspire future leaders and create a stronger America. We know the only way forward is together. In November 2010, the U.S. Green Building Council in partnership with the American Institute of Architects, the Redford Center and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, held a Greening of America's Schools Summit with mayors, superintendents, educators, students, artists and community leaders to better understand the steps needed to green America's schools and how to best lead the charge.
Local Leaders in Sustainability: A Special Report from Sundance outlines a national action plan that mayors and local leaders can use as a framework to develop and implement green schools initiatives. The report also provides a comprehensive review of the benefits of green schools; a summary of local, state and federal policy solutions; leadership profiles of green school advocates; and case studies from both large cities and small communities. Together, these resources serve as a roadmap on the journey to green schools.
In my mind, the issues that we are facing in the environment and education are inextricably linked, and I believe that this summit in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council and ICLEI can lead to creative ideas and bold solutions to tackle our education challenges.
We need to develop a novel, invigorating approach that links education and the environment to benefit America's next generation of students and this unique gathering of experts and local government officials from across the nation will represent a major first step in establishing that goal.
At USGBC, we understand the profound impact green buildings have on our lives and the innovation they have poured into the marketplace, and we believe no other market speaks more powerfully to the benefits and potential of green buildings than our schools. Engaging educators in creating sustainable learning environments for their students and applying solid research to inform leadership — from school boards to college presidents — about the benefits of healthy, high-performing schools is one of the most important things we can do.