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green schools

Lady Bird Johnson Middle School opening in the Irving (Texas) Independent School District this August is named after the Texas native and former First Lady, who died in 2007. The 152,000- square-foot school is designed to be a net-zero school, which means it will produce as much energy as it consumes. In fact, it will be the largest net-zero middle school in the nation. Irving ISD is located in a suburb of Dallas and has 34,000 students and 37 educational facilities.

The Gloria Marshall Elementary School

The new Gloria Marshall Elementary School, opening this fall to 730 pre-K5 students in the Spring (Texas) Independent School District, will sport an aquatic pond for students to study its ecosystem, a butterfly garden, an above-ground cistern to collect rainwater, and a wind turbine. Inside will be a computer in the school lobby allowing students to view the amount of energy the roof's solar panels are harnessing. It will be one of the greenest schools in Texas and the first in Houston to use geothermal heating and cooling.

Three of nine school buildings that have won the latest Educational Facility Design Awards from the American Institute of Architects' Committee on Architecture for Education stand out from the crowd of other school buildings because they are sustainable and are connected to the nature that surrounds them. The awards program is designed to identify trends and emerging ideas, honor excellence in planning and design, and disseminate knowledge about best practices in educational and community facilities, according to the AIA.

In an effort both to fight the ever-rising costs of fuel and to go green, Lee’s Summit (Mo.) R-7 School District has become the first district in the United States to operate an all-electric distribution fleet. After beginning a discussion in 2008 on ways to reduce its dependency on oil, in August 2010 the district received four delivery trucks, one van, and one refrigerator truck—all powered by electricity. After converting the cost of electric power to the cost of diesel, the district spends roughly $ 0.11 per gallon compared to $2.25.

Anyone who doubts that adjusting thermostats or turning off computers can make much of a dent in utility bills should have a chat with administrators of the Council Rock School District in Bucks County, Pa. In the past four years, thanks to comprehensive policies and procedures, CRSD has cut energy usage by nearly 50 percent and achieved more than $9 million in total savings. The 12,000- student district has been honored for its practices with federal EPA-sponsored Energy Star awards three years in a row.

When President Obama first signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he took much criticism for spending more money—$787 billion more—when the nation was reeling from decades-old debt, a more than 9 percent unemployment rate and a mortgage crisis. But this measure has allowed public school district leaders to invest in cost-effective, energy-efficient facilities projects faster than they would have if they didn't have the federal funds.

The newly opened South Warren (Ky.) Middle and High School is is the largest insulated concrete form building in the nation.


What is Disney's Planet Challenge?

Disney's Planet Challenge is a free, project-based environmental and science competition for grades 3-8 that encourages students to make a difference in their schools, their communities and at home.

In a first-of-its-kind move, three school districts in Illinois have bonded together to be in the business of wind power. Their joint project not only could benefit the environment but could save millions of dollars.

In what is its third and final phase of an ambitious plan to renovate their district, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) will be putting the final touches on 25 refurbished buildings that the district expects will receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification seal of approval. IPS, encompassing 65 schools and over 34,000 students, began its comprehensive sustainability project in 2001 to update infrastructure and reduce energy costs.