Accelerating our Green Building Efforts

Published on: 
19 Apr 2013
Chris Pyke

It was a big day in Ohio this week when professionals from across the region were convened by USGBC's Central Ohio Chapter for Design Columbus. Set in the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) Center, the conference featured examples of ambitious green practices and efforts to improve project design and delivery.

I was honored to be on hand to give the day's keynote address titled 'Green Building in an Emerging Era of Big Data.' I shared with the audience some thoughts about the on-going evolution of our industry toward an experimental, data-driven, outcome-oriented style of practice. We discussed the role of emerging tools, such as the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) to provide transparency and context for the actions and outcomes that make LEED projects green.

The big news of the day was the recognition of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) for the completion of 50 LEED certified schools with 300 registered. Lisa Laney received a plaque commemorating their accomplishment, and she reflected on their on-going efforts to provide superior learning environments for Ohio's kids. This recognition is particularly timely following the recent release of a comprehensive report from McGraw-Hill Construction detailing the health and productivity benefits of green schools. This included survey results showing that 91% of green K-12 schools self-report improved health and well-being for their students with 70% reporting higher test scores.

The benefits of green schools policies extend beyond the classroom. Last year, Harvard Business School researchers Timothy Simcoe and Michael Toffel published a paper analyzing the role of public sector green building leadership on the private sector. They found that government policies encourage private-sector investment in complementary services which can reduce green building costs to private developers. This means that public policies can accelerate private sector adoption and reduce costs.

I was privileged to honor Lisa Laney and her colleagues at OFCC. I'm inspired by their leadership, and I hope we can share their success and inspire others to expand and accelerate efforts to create green schools that benefit kids, teachers, and the environment.