Schools Make the Green Grade


The first net-zero energy school in Texas and a Georgia college dedicated to restoring the global ecosystem are among this year’s newly anointed best green schools.

The third annual “Best of Green Schools” list comes from The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The award recognizes top educational institutions, individuals and initiatives across the United States for environmental efforts.

Building-Technology Leaders

The Lady Bird Johnson Middle School in Irving, TX, was named the best green school in the K-12 category.

The school features an array of energy-efficient building technologies, including a super-insulated building envelope, passive solar interior daylighting, and advanced controls system monitoring, according to project details.

The winner in the Higher Education Institution category was Emory University of Atlanta, GA. Currently, many of the schools' buildings are being retrofitted to incorporate green attributes.

In addition, the university has set an ambitious goal of reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent (an 85 percent reduction per square foot) by 2050, according to the Center for Green Schools.

List of ‘Champions’
This year's nominees include thousands of "champions who are catalyzing the green schools movement," said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools.

"This list represents exemplary leadership from schools, campuses, students, policy makers and more who are raising the bar when it comes to creating healthy, safe and resource-efficient schools," she said.

And the Winners Are...

The “Best of Green Schools 2013” list follows. Details and commentary are provided by the Center for Green Schools.

Additional images and project information may be obtained by clicking on the award name.

K-12 School: Lady Bird Johnson Middle School (Irving, TX):  LEED Gold-certified Lady Bird Johnson Middle School is the first net-zero energy school in the state of Texas. At 152,250 square feet, the campus is the largest net-zero educational facility in the country.

Higher Education Institution: Emory University (Atlanta, GA): Emory University has identified sustainability as one of its top priorities—to help restore the global ecosystem, foster healthy living, and reduce the university’s impact on the local environment. Emory has among the highest number of square feet of LEED-certified space of any campus in America.

Ambassador: Lori Braunstein, Delaware Valley Green Building Council (DVGBC): As director for green schools at DVGBC, Braunstein has developed an effective and comprehensive strategy for engaging and supporting teachers, students, facilities managers and administrators around sustainability programs in schools. She also initiated the statewide Pennsylvania Green & Healthy Schools Partnership to bring together key stakeholders from the green building, environmental education, and health and wellness fields around an agenda for green and healthy schools.

Lori Braunstein Andy Kerr

Lori Braunstein, winner of the Ambassador award, launched the Pennsylvania Green & Healthy Schools Partnership; Colorado State Sen. Andy Kerr, who received the Policy Maker honor, is a longtime proponent of green schools.

Policy Maker: Colorado State Sen. Andy Kerr: Kerr has been one of the strongest proponents of green schools in Colorado and nationwide for many years. In the spring of 2013, he successfully passed SB 13-279, requiring all school districts in the state to build new schools or to reconstruct schools to the highest possible energy efficiency.

Moment for the Movement: California Proposition 39, the Clean Energy Jobs Act: Under the landmark Clean Energy and Jobs Act, $2.5 billion over the next five years will be directed toward energy-efficiency projects and repairs to promote healthy, high-performing schools in California.

Business Leadership: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH): HMH is helping to transform learning environments by driving the conversation around sustainability education and the Common Core. HMH also serves as a partner of the Center for Green Schools’ Green Apple program, making a financial contribution in honor of school customers who switch from physical textbook samples to the virtual alternative.

Community Event: Green Apple Day of Service at Duckett’s Lane Elementary School (Elkridge. MD): Grimm + Parker Architects joined Dustin Construction and the students, principal and staff of Duckett’s Lane Elementary School on Sept. 29 to host and coordinate a student-led scavenger hunt for environmental features in and around the new school. Stations were set up to demonstrate how the building and site are teaching tools for their environmental literacy curriculum.

Collaboration: Celebrate Sustainability: This "green partnership" includes Virginia Tech; the town of Blacksburg, VA; and Sustainable Blacksburg, a local citizen's group. Every year, the three organizations come together to program a week's worth of events that recognize and celebrate the sustainability achievements of the school and the town over the previous year.

Transformation: The Green Schools Academy (as led by Jenna Cramer, vice president of green schools for the Green Building Alliance): The Green Schools Academy program brings together private, public, parochial and charter schools to work toward a culture of sustainability and transformation in healthy schools for all children.

Student Leadership: Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council (Fayette County, KY): The Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council is a project-based organization composed of students from all Fayette County high schools. The council meets monthly to discuss collaborative environmental outreach projects, partnership prospects and leadership, and post-secondary opportunities in all areas of sustainability, including energy management, outdoor classrooms, waste management, water quality and air quality.

The Center for Green Schools was launched in 2010 by the USGBC. The Center’s goal is to facilitate change in the design, construction and operation of the country’s schools to generate savings through improved energy efficiency and enhance student performance.


Tagged categories: Awards and honors; Color + Design; Energy efficiency; Environmentally friendly; Green building; Schools; U.S. Green Building Council

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