Green schools increase teacher retention.

Teachers in green schools report they are more satisfied with their school environments than teachers in conventional schools, helping to improve teacher retention. They cite indoor air quality, access to daylight and views and better acoustics as reasons they prefer these high-performing schools.

Retaining teachers saves money

A 2010 report by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF) estimated that the nation's school districts spent at least $7.2 billion a year on teacher turnover. Increasing teacher retention helps to lower a school district's personnel replacement, recruitment and training costs. In the four years since Great Seneca Creek Elementary School (LEED Gold) in Germantown, Md., opened as the first LEED-certified green school in the state, only one teacher made a lateral transfer to another school. In a recent survey, every member of the 100-person staff said they worked in a safe and healthy environment and that they would recommend the school to a friend for employment.

Keeping educators and education support professionals healthy

When toxic chemicals — often found in paint, flooring and furniture as well as conventional cleaning, pest management and snow removal products — are eliminated, students and staff report less eye, nose and throat irritation, and asthma-related incidents decline.

There are an estimated 40 to 60 chemical injuries per year for every 1,000 school custodians — mostly chemical burns to the eyes and skin and damage to the respiratory system. These injuries cost about $25 million each year in workers’ compensation and lost time. Another study of nearly 2,000 confirmed cases of work-related asthma found nearly 12 percent of those cases were directly associated with exposure to cleaning products similar to those used in schools, hotels and other commercial facilities. By requiring the use of green cleaning products and procedures, schools ensure safe and healthy work environments for both students and staff.

Optimizing classroom acoustics so children can hear is a primary foundation for learning, and helps preserve teacher health — the average teacher misses two days per year due to vocal strain, according to NCES. When working and learning in a high-performing acoustic environment, students and teachers are given the opportunity for effective communication. In this way, a green school provides an environment that lessens distractions, encourages participation, and instills a sense of pride and importance in all of its students.

“Through long-term and careful planning, high quality educational environments can instill a sense of pride, engage students in learning, and encourage strong parental involvement. Every child and school employee has the right to a school with healthy air to breathe and conditions that foster academic success.”
Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association