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October 03, 2011
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Home » Is your kid’s school good enough for Dora?

This year Dora, the famed preschool explorer, will do something cartoons rarely do:  age.  Since 2000, Dora and her backpack have helped the world’s preschoolers get ready for school and now she’s getting ready for bold new adventures as a full-blown tween-aged middle schooler.

Few people have done as much to advance the cause of sustainability as Dora and her cousin Diego.  They’ve raised the consciousness of a whole generation to the point that every parent I know has had some version of a “Dora moment” – your kid calls you out for not recycling, using plastic bags, or committing some other sin of carelessness.

As Dora gets ready for middle school, it’s made me wonder: is my kid’s school good enough for Dora?  Would it hold up to her scrutiny not just as a place that recycles, but is it the kind of clean, safe, and sustainable environment Dora would approve?

This line of thinking led me to one of the other people who’s done a lot to shape the very foundations (pardon the pun) of green thinking: Rick Fedrizzi and the US Green Building Council.

According to USGBC’s Center for Green Schools:

  • Over 20% of the nation’s population goes to school every day as teachers, students, coaches, administrators, or staff in nearly 140,000 schools, colleges and universities.
  • Thousands of these buildings are barely built to code and few of them meet “leadership standards” like USGBC’s LEED standard.
  • Students in America miss approximately 14 million school days per year because of asthma[1]. Controlling exposure to indoor environmental factors, like carbon monoxide, dust, and pollen, could prevent more than 65% of asthma cases among elementary-aged children[2].

While many of us have focused on The Environment with capital letters in the macro sense we’ve missed the environment in the micro, namely the environments we send our children to every day.  Improving these micro-climates could do wonders for our national health, contribute to our communities, and raise, in the word’s of the Center’s director Rachel Gutter, “…a generation of leaders we call sustainability natives…”  Again, according to the Center:

  • Removing toxic chemicals — often found in paint, flooring and furniture as well as conventional cleaning, pest management and snow removal products — results in students and staff reporting less eye, nose and throat irritation, and asthma-related incidents.
  • Green schools use 33% less energy and 32% less water than conventional schools, significantly reducing utility costs over the average lifecycle of a school.
  • On average, green schools save $100,000 per year on operating costs — enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 textbooks.
  • If all new U.S. school construction and renovation went green today, the total energy savings alone would be $20 billion over the next 10 years.

That’s why I’m so pleased that Rick will be announcing a major new initiative of the Center for Green Schools on September 26th at the COMMIT!Forum in New York City.  I hope you’ll join Rick in the conversations that will flow throughout the Forum.  Because right now, it’s not “just” about the environment.  It’s about the environment in our kids’ schools.  The air they breathe, the water they drink, the places they learn, play, and interact.  These places not only nourish their bodies and minds, they shape the thinking of an entire generation of citizens and leaders.

Click here to find out what makes a school green

To join USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi, UN Assistant Secretary for Human Rights John Ruggie, author of the Big Thirst Charles Fishman, and many others at the COMMIT!Forum register now:

[1] Source: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[2] Source: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

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