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Facilities/Construction Update

<li>Greening the Country's Schools <li>New Online Construction Resources <li>Ruling Could Simplify

Greening the Country's Schools

The Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) recently announced a partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to participate in a multibillion-dollar Green Schools Program to reduce energy consumption in educational facilities nationwide. Announced by former president Bill Clinton, who launched CCI in August 2006, the partnership includes professional education associations, K12 school districts and postsecondary institutions, such as Chicago Public Schools, Miami-Dade County (Fla.) Public Schools, Rio Rancho (N.M.) Public Schools, Earth Day Network, EcoAmerica and the National Education Association.

As one of several new partnerships forged by CCI to reduce the energy consumption of public and private properties worldwide, the program will accomplish its objectives by identifying and retrofit ting schools around the world with green technologies, Clinton announced.

Clinton and USGBC president Rick Fedrizzi called the green movement a "staggering economic opportunity" to create better energy conservation technologies and higher-paying jobs, and they refuted the claim that building green schools is more expensive than traditional construction and facility projects.

"Green schools are not unaffordable," said Clinton. "That's why we've mobilized dozens of organizations that are committed to greening America's schools."

New Online Construction Resources

A new Web site launched by the U.S. Green Building Council,, gives administrators, teachers, elected officials, students and community members a new resource in the effort to provide a future of green schools and environmentally sound building practices.

The site is filled with facts on the benefits and costs of green schools, profiles of schools that are already green, government policies to promote green schools, and even a social networking forum for the site's visitors.

The American Institute of Architects has also launched a new online resource,, to assist consumers in the architectural design process and the considerations involved in selecting and working with an architect. The site addresses sustainable building practices, focusing on energy efficient design strategies.

It also offers an in-depth look into how schools across the country are using elements of sustainable design to create healthier learning environments for students.

Ruling Could Simplify Pa. Projects

In the past, districts in Pennsylvania hired the companies they need for construction projects by bidding out each job separately. A new ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, however, has paved the way for districts to ask permission from the state to hire a single general contractor who would choose its subcontractors.

In 2000 the state allowed districts to seek waivers of the former multi-prime contracting requirement, which yielded 45 waivers and saved districts $80 million, but a group of subcontractors stopped the program in 2003. The state's General Building Contractors Association and supporters filed an appeal, putting the matter before the state Supreme Court, says Pennsylvania School Boards Association assistant executive director Timothy M. Allwein.

The decision's supporters, like Walter P. Palmer III, the president of the general contractors association, say the ruling will keep parties on the same page, coordinate work timing, and save districts and taxpayers millions of dollars.

But detractors-various associations of subcontractors-say the savings aren't assured and that the process will not be nearly as transparent.

"There's something to be said for being paid directly from the school district that contracts the work," says Stanley B. Edelstein, an attorney who represented the Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Pennsylvania. "It eliminates a layer you have to deal with in terms of changes and getting paid."

Allwein argues that hiring multiple contractors "often results in fi ngerpointing" when issues arise and makes it difficult to determine where the fault lies. "[This ruling] actually increases transparency," he adds.