Page E3.1 . 18 April 2007                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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    Green School Economics

    by ArchitectureWeek

    When architects are asked to articulate the economic benefits of "green" buildings, they may say something like: "they may cost more in construction than conventional buildings but will more than make up the difference in the long run." This claim seems reasonable, but how do we know it's accurate?

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    A recently published study about the benefits offered by green schools confirms the claim and provides solid statistics to back it up. "Greening America's Schools: Costs and Benefits" was written by Greg Kats and Jon Braman of the research firm Capital E.

    There is a crisis in funding public education in the United States, and some of the problem is expressed in deteriorating school buildings. These crumbling, overcrowded environments affect children's learning in a variety of ways. Noise and poor lighting affect attention spans; mold, poor ventilation, and temperature swings harm children's health; demoralizing conditions make it hard for school districts to retain the best teachers.

    Certainly fixing the most egregious problems will solve some of these problems, but how can green schools go still farther to boost student learning? And how can sustainability practices help reduce costs during a time when U.S. funding priorities are neglecting education?

    Despite the widespread belief that green buildings are much more expensive than conventional ones, the report of 30 green schools (LEED certified or equivalent) "demonstrates that green schools cost less than 2 percent more than conventional schools... but provide financial benefits that are 20 times as large [as that difference]."   >>>

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    Ash Creek Intermediate School in Monmouth, Oregon, by BOORA Architects, Inc., is one of the 30 green schools in the Capital E study.
    Photo: Sally Painter

    ArchWeek Image

    Daylit corridor in Ash Creek Intermediate School.
    Photo: Sally Painter


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