Kaid Benfield Archive


US mayors, USGBC join forces to green schools - sort of

Kaid Benfield

Posted October 21, 2008 at 6:21PM

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There is a story on the GreenerBuildings website that the US Conference of Mayors has formed the Mayors' Alliance for Green Schools, which will work with the US Green Building Council toward the goal of making the nation's schools environmentally friendly within a generation.  No one can argue with that goal.

The story goes on to mention green roofs, solar gardens, recycling programs, green jobs and infrastructure, and improving the environmental quality of facilities.  It cites with approval various existing programs, including those by the USGBC, the Clinton Climate Initiative, and Ecomedia.

high school in Fairfax County, VA (by: USGS)I don't want to rain on their parade too much, because these are all good things.  But what bugs me is the claim to "greenness" when neither the new initiative nor any of the programs they cite do anything whatever to address school sprawl (see my previous posts here and here), where automobile-dependent mega-campuses do more environmental damage than any building-centric focus can ever overcome.  In fact, USGBC is quoted in the story as bragging about the vast acreage of campus space it has certified in its programs as green, as if the vast acreage itself were something to celebrate.  It isn't.

In addition, by focusing its work on city mayors, the new initiative overlooks the considerable problems in the suburbs and beyond, where the worst damage occurs.  Yes, it's a start.  But let's call it that, and for once acknowledge that it won't get to some of the most serious environmental problems associated with schools.