As Simple as ABC: Going Green in EducationStudents are our future – whether they are just entering kindergarten or about to graduate college, you can’t argue with that fact. So much time, energy and money are spent on education to ensure that we are raising up the leaders our world needs for tomorrow… According to the National Center for Education Statistics Digest of Education Statistics of 2010, the United States is home to some 140,000 schools (elementary, secondary & post-secondary) and over 85 million students in public & private schools. Educating our future leaders on the basics shouldn’t be our only goal while they are in school – we should be setting an example for them, including how we treat the environment. And we can start by greening our schools.
We already put money into our schools and they are doing just fine.
Why do they need more money?
We are already putting money into our schools, this is true, but our schools are not fine. Take a look at these staggering statistics:
- 60% of US schools have major building features in disrepair
- 33% of America’s schools have buildings in need of extensive repair or replacement
- 43% of schools have unsatisfactory indoor environmental conditions
- 20% of schools have unsatisfactory indoor air quality
Okay, so they need help… But why should I support “greening” my school?
Isn’t that more investment than it’s worth?
Looking for more of a reason than to set a good example for 85 million students while keeping them in a healthier environment? Take a look at these statistics from the Green Schools Leadership Center:
- Green schools may cost less than 2% more than conventional schools (about $3 per square foot) but they provide financial benefits that are 20 times as large
- A green school saves an average of $100,000 annually – enough to hire 2 new teachers, buy 250 new computers, or purchase 5000 new textbooks
- Teacher Retention increases by an average of 3% and teachers experience a 7% decrease in sick days
- Test scores and learning ability improves on average 3-5% – equating to an annual earning increase of $532 per student
Yes! The statistics are right there and they’ve been verified. Green schools have more benefits and a higher ROI than we give them credit for, even starting with something seemingly small like recycling more.
Fantastic! How do I get started greening my school?
Whether you are a parent, teacher, superintendent or concerned citizen, we suggest speaking to someone who has authority over your school about improvements that could be made to address the green initiative while also providing benefits to the school. The Green Schools Leadership Center mentioned above is a great resource to look through as well as checking out LEED credits that your school can earn through simple adjustments. Though the GSLC was originally created to raise funding to build new green schools, their resources have since expanded to offer help to existing schools looking to implement green processes wherever they can.
Since energy and electricity are some of the biggest environmental bullies, we suggest starting by looking at your energy systems and electric appliances and then moving on from there.
- Do you have any renewable energy systems – do you have a good spot for a couple of solar panels?
- Are you recycling all the materials you can recycle (plastic, aluminum, paper, cardboard, glass, batteries etc.) and are you incorporating recycled materials into your everyday processes?
- Which areas in your building require the most electricity or energy and are there products out there to reduce the amount you are using?
- What types of foods are served in your cafeteria or dining areas and could more fresh or organic produce be used?
- What are you doing with the property around your school building? Is there space for an educational school garden? Could you replace some of the recreational equipment with certified “green” playground equipment?
What types of products of services should I be looking into?
Products and services which feature recycled materials, energy reduction, are biodegradable or can be recycled themselves are a great start. The reason green schools save so much money each year is that they reduce the amount of energy, electricity and water used while also providing a way to use renewable energy sources. In terms of hand hygiene and restroom hygiene, Workplace Essentials strives to be a green leader with its innovative products and services which are perfect for educational institutions.
Whether in your restrooms or in your food service areas, the Foam Hand Soap Service offers a Green Seal Certified formula that meets industry standards and reduces waste.
Earn LEED credits with the help of the EcoDri Automatic Hand Dryer, a touch-free hand dryer which dries hands in 15-20 seconds while using 80% less energy than conventional hand dryers.
Keep your female teachers, teenage and adult students safe from bloodborne pathogens with the Sanitary Disposal Service. A masking tray inside the unit shields and protects the user from the contents while reducing the risk of drain blockage since users will not need to flush sanitary products. Inside each sanitary disposal unit is an EcoCard Sanitary Waste Neutralizer, a biological alternative to hazardous chemicals which reduces exposure to toxins while neutralizing waste with vapor release technology. The EcoCard is made from 100% recycled, biodegradable products.