Focusing on sustainable learning environments and building off of a number of initiatives already underway, the USGBC has launched the Center for Green Schools (centerforgreenschools.org). United Technologies Corp. of Texas has signed a multiyear, multimillion-dollar commitment as the founding sponsor of the center.

“At USGBC, we understand the profound impact green buildings have on our lives and the innovation they have poured into the marketplace, and we believe no other market speaks more powerfully to the benefits and potential of green buildings than our schools,” says Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the USGBC. “The Center for Green Schools at USGBC is engaging educators in creating sustainable learning environments for their students and applying solid research to inform leadership–from school boards to college presidents–about the benefits of healthy, high-performing schools.”

The center was created to provide guidance, programming, and resources for all members of the education community. Its initiatives will build upon work started by the USGBC through its Green Schools campaign and its Green Campus campaign. Through the center, the USGBC also plans to escalate its work on green school caucuses in the U.S. Congress and the 50 for 50 Initiative, launched in 2008 to encourage the formation of a green schools caucus in every state legislature. It also will continue the organization’s work with the Mayors’ Alliance for Green Schools, and its work with the Coalition for Green Schools, an alliance of educational and environmental associations that meets monthly to discuss new school construction, critical retrofits of existing facilities, green cleaning, metrics-based programs to track energy consumption, and experiential learning opportunities. The center also will create tools for USGBC student groups on college campuses nationwide and will provide training and resource to K-12 schools serving lower-income families, under-resourced institutions, and community colleges.

An advisory board and honorary advisory board consisting of green advocates, experts, educators, philanthropists, and other stakeholders, has been formed for the center.

“We see an opportunity to educate a new generation of leaders we call sustainability natives, who are capable of driving global market transformation toward green schools,” says Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools. “Our job is to equip the people who make the case, the people who make the decisions and the people who get things done by elevating and accelerating important conversations with district and campus stakeholders and providing the tools and resources to help make transformation possible. We believe every child in America and throughout the world should have access to an environment that greatly improves their learning experience.”

According to the center's website, a green school is a building or facility “that creates a health environment that is conducive to learning while saving energy, resources, and money.” It should:

• Conserve energy and natural resources
• Save taxpayer money
• Improve indoor air quality
• Remove toxic materials from places where children learn and play
• Employ daylighting strategies and improves classroom acoustics
• Employ sustainable purchasing and green cleaning practices
• Improve environmental literacy in students
• Decrease the burden on municipal water and wastewater treatment
• Encourage waste management efforts to benefit the local community and region
• Conserve fresh drinking water and helps manage stormwater runoff
• Encourage recycling
• Promote habitat protection
• Reduce demand on local landfills.

For more information on the Center for Green Schools, visit centerforgreenschools.org.