Since the U.S. Green Building Council launched LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Schools certification in 2007, building sustainable, eco-friendly facilities has become the norm for new construction and is statewide policy in 13 states. However, there is still much to be done with the approximately 99,000 existing public schools across the United States. According to “A National Action Plan for Greening America’s Schools” (Sundance, 2011), on average, green schools save $100,000 per year on operating costs. Over 10 years, America’s schools could save $20 billion.
According to the Green Schools Initiative, green schools strive to be toxic-free; to use resources sustainably; to create green, healthy spaces; and to teach students and staff about environmental education. Many of the products listed here may help districts retrofit their buildings to become more environmentally friendly and cut costs on energy.
Extensive Garden Roof, contact Hydrotech for pricing
Hydrotech’s Extensive Garden Roof is a cost-effective, eco-friendly and lightweight covering. The garden roof, made up of herbs, grasses and other vegetation that can endure harsh growing conditions, provides storm water management by retaining 50 to 90 percent of rainfall on the roof and improves energy efficiency by enhancing insulation of the building. This garden roof does not require any regular maintenance and can be installed on just about any existing flat or sloped roof.
Green STEM Academy: Student-Directed, contact Pitsco Education for pricing
Sustainability is moving into the classroom with Pitsco Education’s Green STEM Academy. This student-directed curriculum includes 10 standards-based topics for middle school students, including carbon footprint, changing oceans, eco-architecture and sustainable agriculture. Each lesson is hands-on and engaging for students. A teacher-led curriculum is also available.
GreenBuilt Solar Vert-I-Pack, starting at $18,000
The GreenBuilt Solar Vert-I-Pack is a solar-powered waste compactor with performance comparable to standard units. It can be placed anywhere there is regular sunlight, since it’s off the grid and features eco-friendly biodegradable hydraulic fluid. Schools also have the option to choose a hybrid model, which can connect to the power grid as a backup. These units may help schools qualify for grants and funding from state or federal sustainability programs.
EnergyReports, pricing varies
Automated Logic’s EnergyReports is a user-friendly reporting tool that allows facility managers to produce a variety of reports illustrating a building’s energy use. Users can compare energy consumption or demand over different periods of time with dynamic and animated color graphs.
Smart Thermostats, contact ecobee for pricing
The wireless ecobee Smart Thermostat enables schools to manage heating and cooling, service reminders and view reports from anywhere at any time through a Web portal or an iPhone, iPod or Android app. The ecobee Smart Thermostat is user-friendly and can save a school up to 30 percent on heating and cooling costs.
Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Retrofits, pricing varies Energy efficiency retrofits optimize and modernize buildings by introducing effective solutions that reduce energy use and operating costs. Johnson Controls evaluates systems to identify energy and operational efficiency opportunities that will increase a building’s performance, cut costs and lower the carbon footprint.
Energi TriPak, contact Lutron for pricing
Lutron’s Energi TriPak manages light levels in the classroom as activities change throughout the day and dims or turns off the lights when they are not in use. Beyond saving energy, situation-specific lighting provided by Energi TriPak ensures that students can view a projected image, watch video presentations, and participate in classroom instruction with the best light quality. The Energi TriPak includes three components: a Pico wireless control, a PowPak dimming module that responds to wireless sensors and controls provided by the Radio Powr Savr sensor.
starting at $199.50
IdeaPaint is an environmentally responsible dry-erase paint that allows schools to turn any surface into a whiteboard where students can collaborate and explore. IdeaPaint’s two-part coating can be applied directly over any existing wall, blackboard or surface. It’s formaldehyde-free and does not produce any harmful gas once it’s dry.
EcoSmart Roof, contact Sika Sarnafil for pricing
Sika Sarnafil’s EcoSmart Roof is cost-effective and good for the environment. This long-lasting roof is made from a thermoplastic membrane, Styrofoam brand insulation and a gypsum roof board. The white reflective surface of the membrane minimizes solar heat gain into the building, saving energy. The thermoplastic membrane can be recycled when it reaches the end of its service life, which is typically 35 years.