At USGBC, we know that state legislators are some of the most influential decision makers in the movement for healthy, high-performing schools. Each year, state lawmakers surpass expectations and prove themselves to be leaders capable of driving real change. That’s why we’ve created specific resources to help this audience most effectively act to bring the benefits of green schools to their communities.
Last week, during the 2013 National Conference of State Legislatures, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC staff co-hosted a breakfast with our friends at the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators and released a report highlighting a landmark volume of green schools activity in state legislatures around the country.
Here’s the short of it: since the beginning of 2013, we've followed more than 125 bills across 34 states that seek to advance healthy, high-performing schools. At the time of this blog, at least 25 of these bills have been passed by state legislatures and/or signed into law, with many more still being debated this year.
This activity represents an increase in volume from last year and is impressive in its own right, but more importantly, it brings forward substantive new resolutions, laws and appropriations to accelerate this movement to new heights. Some of the triumphs from 2013 include:
- Resolutions in Georgia and Arizona encouraging statewide participation in the Green Apple Day of Service
- A new law in Colorado requiring school renovation and construction to attain the highest energy efficiency standards practicable
- A one billion dollar investment for the much-needed modernization of Baltimore City Schools
- Appropriations made in Texas to support a clean school bus program and a corresponding health effects study, and in Wyoming to advance environmental education.
- In California, the state legislature is still debating bills, including some relating to the implementation of up to $550 million for healthy, high-performance schools through California Proposition 39, the Clean Energy Jobs Act, passed by voters in 2012.
Along with this report of legislative activity, we have also just released an updated Green Schools Menu of Options for State Legislators to reflect current national priorities and activities. At the encouragement of state lawmakers during the 2013 Green Schools State Legislative Summit, we’ve reorganized this resource to align with the three pillars of the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Award. We hope these resources help community leaders continue their important work to advance green schools, and as always with these living documents, we invite feedback.
You can view the full list of state activity here.