LEED Certification for Schools

By Robert J. Kobet

As schools emerge as a key part of the growing green building movement, board members and district officials should have a healthy discussion about the costs and benefits of investing in our facilities. 

Major initiatives such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Schools, the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, and the Department of Energy’s Rebuild America schools program influenced the current green movement you see today. These and other complimentary programs have contributed to a growing number of case studies and a burgeoning body of literature that praise the qualities and attributes of high performance green schools.

I became part of the green school movement in 1981, when I joined a group of volunteers that developed the country’s first Master of Science in Sustainable Systems program at Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University. My thesis was on the design and construction of Harmony House, a place where graduate students can experience a living laboratory and examine the relationships between human, natural, and building ecology. I had no idea then how this experience would influence my life.

Since 1995 I have worked internationally in the field of sustainable design and as an educator. Today, much of my work is with high performance school initiatives in the US and other countries.

What I have experienced and learned can be summed up as follows: High performance green schools are most effective and return the greatest benefits when they are based on the relationship between community, facilities, and curriculum. We must understand how these elements relate.

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