Imagine a future where children wake up excited to go to school. Imagine that when they get to school, they are met with clean fresh air, classrooms with good natural light and acoustics that allowed them to hear their teachers. Imagine test scores going up, reading retention rates rising, absences related to respiratory illnesses like colds and asthma going down, behavior improving, teachers that are better able to teach and students better able to learn.
If this sounds too good to be true, then you might be surprised to learn that it is already happening in schools across the country. Schools like Stoddert Elementary right here in the nation's capital, which is on track to be the first LEED certified "green" school in Washington, D.C., and which will provide a shining example for other schools to follow.
And because of the example it has set - a historic renovation of this beautiful building with great cultural significance, we used it as the backdrop today to launch the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, putting a fine point on our mission to ensure every student has the opportunity to attend a green, high-performing and healthy school within this generation.
Across America, the next generation of leaders walks into classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, study and lecture halls that are compromising their ability to learn - not enhancing it, as they should. The Center was established to change that dynamic. Since we first launched the National Green Schools Campaign in 2007, USGBC has been a strong advocate for green schools. The campaign inspired a number of initiatives, some related to more visibility in the government sector for the need for green schools, such as the 50 for 50 state legislative caucuses; the Coalition for Green Schools that brings together the national PTA, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and others; the training and deployment of more than 1,000 green schools advocates in every state; the development of materials and case studies that help administrators build and operate green schools, and so much more. The Center for Green Schools rolls up these efforts into a powerful center of gravity for attracting expertise and resources to help deliver these schools for our kids and for the teachers who lead them.
Through a multi-year, multi-million-dollar financial commitment from the Center's first Founding Sponsor, United Technologies Corp., we will be able to lead hundreds of schools across the nation to becoming green and more energy efficient and will help build hundreds of LEED registered education projects in the next few years.
As the President of USGBC, I've witnessed the profound impact green buildings have on our lives and the innovations they have poured into the marketplace, and I believe no other market speaks more powerfully to the benefits and potential of green buildings than our schools. And as the husband of a Syracuse, New York public school teacher and the father of two, there are few issues to which I'm more committed than providing children with a world-class education in a healthy environment.
By their very nature, schools demonstrate our hopes for the future. What better way to demonstrate our commitment than making sure every child attends a green school within THIS generation?
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