The Center for Green Schools report: The state of public school buildings

14 Mar

Moi has written about the state of public schools in Toxic dangers in schools:

Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Because children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of societies’ problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family. Environmental Lawyers.Com describes the types of environmental risks in schools in the article, Environmental Hazards at School:

An environmental hazard is a chemical or pollutant in the environment that causes you to become ill or injured. While American’s have become more conscious of hazardous material in the environment as a result of the rise in environmental litigation, plenty of environmental hazards still exist.

Types of Environmental Hazards in Schools

In 1954, the school board in Niagara Falls New York built a school on top of 21,000 tons of toxic waste. The school boards knew about the toxic waste, and choose to build the 99th Street School anyway. This school was part of the Love Canal Disaster, and students began coming down with illnesses including asthma, epilepsy, and even leukemia.

While Love Canal was a long time ago, potential environmental hazards still exist in schools today. Many of these hazards result from improper retrofitting of school buildings, and could potentially give rise to environmental litigation if students develop health problems as a result of exposure to contaminants.

Lead Paint Exposure: Some older buildings, including schools, still have lead paint. Exposure to lead paint can lead to learning disabilities and other problems, especially in children.

Contaminated Water: Schools that have lingering lead paint may also have older lead arsenic pipes. The lead in these pipes can lead to contaminants in the drinking water. While most schools test water periodically, it may be a good idea to send your child with bottled water to avoid lead effects.

Toxic Mold: Like lead paint, toxic mold and mold poisoning is a problem that plagues older buildings. Mold exposure can cause mold symptoms ranging from asthma to a severe lung infection that makes breathing difficult.

Asbestos: Prior to the 1970’s, asbestos was widely used in insulation and building tiles. Removal of asbestos is dangerous and expensive, and as a result there is still asbestos present in many schools. The EPA does not mandate that schools removal all asbestos, but does require schools with asbestos material to have periodic inspections and file regular reports on the results.

Pesticides: Pesticides are used on the lawns and grounds of schools. Children may be more susceptible to injury from exposure to pesticides, since their brains are still developing.

Air Pollution: Tightly sealed schools without proper ventilation can also create situations where children are exposed to airborne hazards. The EPA has provided an Indoor Air Quality Kit for schools designed to help schools test the air quality and ensure it is safe for kids to breathe.

Environmental Justice and Hazards in Schools

Some evidence suggests that economically disadvantaged neighborhoods tend to be more adversely affected by environmental hazards. School buildings in lower income neighborhoods tend to be older, and there may be less money for construction and updating the building. As a result, there may be more environmental contaminants and hazards present.

The EPA recognizes this disproportionate impact, and Environmental Justice Groups are working to help correct the inequalities.

The Healthy Schools Coalition advocates for healthier and safer environments in schools.

The position paper of the Healthy Schools Coalition describes school environmental issues

Philip Elliott reports in the Huffington Post article, School Maintenance Report Shows Need For $542 Billion To Update, Modernize Buildings:

WASHINGTON — America’s schools are in such disrepair that it would cost more than $270 billion just to get elementary and secondary buildings back to their original conditions and twice that to get them up to date, a report released Tuesday estimated. In a foreword to the report, former President Bill Clinton said “we are still struggling to provide equal opportunity” to children and urged the first federal study of school buildings in almost two decades.

Clinton and the Center for Green Schools urged a Government Accountability Office assessment on what it would take to get school buildings up to date to help students learn, keep teachers healthy and put workers back on the jobs. The last such report, issued in 1995 during the Clinton administration, estimated it would take $112 billion to bring the schools into good repair and did not include the need for new buildings to accommodate the growing number of students.

Here is the press release from the Center for Green Schools:


Marisa Long, Public Relations Director; 202-552-1500


Mallory Shelter, Communications Specialist; 202-742-3806

Follow us @usgbc and @mygreenschools

2013 State of Our Schools” Report from the Center for Green Schools at USGBC

Calls for Immediate Examination of America’s School Facilities

Report includes foreword from former President Bill Clinton and highlights $271 billion deficit to bring school facilities up to working order

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 12, 2013) –The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) today released its first “State of our Schools” report, highlighting the critical need to modernize school facilities to meet current health, safety and educational standards.

The report, featuring a foreword by former President Bill Clinton, states that schools are currently facing a $271 billion deferred maintenance bill just to bring the buildings up to working order – approximately $5,450 per student.

The last comprehensive report on America’s school facilities was conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 1995 and indicated that 15,000 U.S. schools were circulating air that at the time was deemed unfit to breathe. The USGBC report calls on the GAO to conduct an updated survey on the condition of America’s schools in order to paint a more complete picture of the scale and scope of today’s needs. The USGBC report also estimates that the cost to both bring schools into good repair and address modernization needs is $542 billion over the next 10 years for Pre-K-12 school buildings. “The places where our children learn matter. This report is a critical first step to taking action and creating healthy, sustainable school buildings,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “Schools are the backbone of our communities, and it is unacceptable that we would allow any of our children to show up in classrooms that compromise their ability to learn. We must do more.” “Approximately 50 million students attend the nearly 100,000 public elementary and secondary schools in the United States. Many of these schools barely meet today’s standards, yet it’s been

an astonishing 18 years since the last comprehensive study on school conditions was conducted,” said Rachel Gutter, director, Center for Green Schools at USGBC. “We are confident Congress will take up the charge to commission a new report on the state of educational facilities across the country. We can’t continue to ignore a problem just because we don’t understand the extent of it.”

The Center for Green Schools at USGBC is urging the GAO to commission another survey on the condition of America’s schools, with support from 24 organizations, including the 21st Century School Fund, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Lung Association, the National Education Association (NEA) and the National PTA, among others. “Our job—as educators, as parents and as elected officials—is to remove barriers so that all students can succeed,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “This means investing in the

right priorities. Children need and deserve safe and healthy environments so they can learn. It’s

not more complicated than that.”

Key recommendations from the report include:

Expand the Common Core of Data (a set of academic expectations collected annually by the National Center for Education Statistics that define the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each grade level) to include school level data on building age, building size and site size.

Improve the current fiscal reporting of school district facility maintenance and operations data to the National Center for Education Statistics so that utility and maintenance expenditures are collected separately.

Improve the collection of capital outlay data from school districts to include identification of the source of capital outlay funding and distinctions between capital outlay categories for new construction and for existing facilities.

Provide financial and technical assistance to states from the U.S. Department of Education to incorporate facility data in their state longitudinal education data systems.

Mandate a GAO facility condition survey take place every 10 years, with the next one beginning immediately.

Please visit to download the full report.


About the Center for Green Schools at USGBC

The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council is making sure every student has the opportunity to attend a green school within this generation. From kindergarten to college and beyond, the Center works directly with staff, teachers, faculty, students, ambassadors, elected officials and communities to drive the transformation of all schools into sustainable places to live and learn, work and play. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter at @mygreenschools, and like us on Facebook


About U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. USGBC works toward its mission of market transformation through its LEED green building certification program, robust educational offerings, a nationwide network of chapters and affiliates, the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and communities. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @USGBC, and Facebook at

Download the report »

This society will not have healthy children without having healthy home and school environments.

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©


Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr.

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