Outlook 2010: Education facilities, operations should use resources more efficiently

The budget crunch facing most education institutions has reinforced the lesson that advocates of sustainable design and construction have been trying to hammer home for years: use resources wisely.

So even with funding restraints, education administrators have strong incentives to make facility improvements that maximize energy efficiency, reduce power consumption, conserve water and have minimal impact on the environment.

Efforts such as the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process and the Collaborative for High Performance Schools' recognition program have helped education institutions recognize the value of creating facilities that provide safe, healthful and environmentally sensitive learning spaces.

Numerous states, municipalities, school systems and individual institutions have adopted regulations that call for construction to follow accepted green building principles. For instance, a new law in Rhode Island states that all major public school facility projects that receive state funding must receive either LEED certification or meet the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools Protocol.

At the post-secondary level, more than 660 college presidents have signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, which calls on higher-education institutions to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pursue research and education efforts that will help reduce global warming and improve the earth's climate.

Kennedy, staff writer, can be reached at [email protected].

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