We make the case for green schools, by digging into the most pressing topics facing schools as they deepen their work to become greener—including facilities operations, environmental health practices, and sustainability education—to give policymakers and school leaders what they need to make smart decisions for greener schools.
We unite and empower individuals to advocate for greener schools. USGBC local staff, community members and volunteers around the country work toward improving buildings and community infrastructure in their own backyards. Individuals with passion and know-how ask for our help in advocating for issues pertinent to their school or district and get connected with their local USGBC community doing the work on the ground.
- Contact your U.S. Representatives and Senators to encourage and/or appreciate their support of the Rebuilding America’s Schools Act, which would allocate funding for school construction for high-need school districts. See if your Members of Congress are already supportive by looking at co-sponsors on the House and Senate bills. You can also learn more and sign on to support funding for school facilities through the BASIC Coalition.
- Contact your U.S. Representatives and Senators to encourage and/or appreciate their support of climate change education through the Climate Change Education Act. See if your Members of Congress are already supportive by looking at co-sponsors on the House and Senate You can also learn more and sign on to endorse the bill yourself to show your support.
- Contact your state legislators to encourage them to allocate or increase funding to support local school districts with construction or repair of their school buildings, including to reduce energy usage and improve indoor air quality. For ideas, see our recommendations for state legislators.
- Encourage your local school board to adopt sustainable practices through a climate action plan, whether comprehensive or in pieces. You can find help in approaching your school board in our school board advocacy guide.
The Center for Green Schools provides clear analysis and research-backed recommendations for policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels who want to support health, resiliency and sustainability within their communities’ schools.
State legislators and green schools
The Center for Green Schools provides expertise and information to a large network of state legislators interested in policies and action to support green schools, including through our work with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. Read our 2021 recommendations for state legislators, and reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for direct assistance from USGBC’s Advocacy and Policy team.
The list below provides an overview of resources available from USGBC’s Center for Green Schools and Advocacy and Policy teams; these are updated regularly and form the backbone of our work with lawmakers.
School facilities information
- The 2021 State of Our Schools report details the need for investment in our nation’s schools by illustrating the gap between spending on capital and operations and the amount required, including through state-by-state detailed profiles. Following the previous 2016 State of Our Schools report, working groups of school facilities experts convened over the course of eight months to propose a menu of solutions at the federal, state and local levels. These recommendations can be found in the report Adequate and Equitable U.S. PK–12 Infrastructure: Priority Actions for Systemic Reform.
- The Impact of School Buildings on Student Health and Performance pulls together findings from dozens of studies over the past 20 years to illustrate the various impacts that buildings have on student health and learning, including how they hear, breathe, see, feel, think, learn and move. Additional research can be found in the Harvard School of Public Health’s paper Schools for Health, released in 2017.
Policy summaries and analysis
- Perspectives on Implementation and Effectiveness of School Green Cleaning Laws summarizes existing state laws and uses national survey data and original research to provide an analysis on the effectiveness of the laws and give guidance for future efforts.
- State-level Legislation to Support Energy Efficiency: Dedicated Funding for Existing K–12 Schools offers a comparison of state laws that provide funding to support energy efficiency in existing schools. The report summarizes program data and stakeholder interviews to help lawmakers understand the pros and cons of each state’s approach.
- One solution for state-level policy to support school facilities investment is highlighted in the summary paper School Facilities Policy Spotlight: Georgia’s Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. The Georgia SPLOST enables localities to levy a small sales tax to pay for specific projects on public facilities, such as schools.
- Perspectives on State Legislation Concerning Lead Testing in School Drinking Water examines the effectiveness of existing state laws to help advocates and state legislators develop comprehensive laws to combat lead contamination in schools. The paper includes a table of bills that have been enacted, interviews with stakeholders and a point-by-point analysis of important elements of each law.
For more information, or to be added to the network of state legislators interested in green schools, please contact us. Core resources about green buildings and infrastructure, more generally, are available from USGBC’s Advocacy and Policy team.
Alongside USGBC’s Advocacy and Policy team, the Center for Green Schools advocates for support and resources for U.S. public school buildings and priorities that support school environmental sustainability, occupant health, and sustainability literacy. In recent years, we’ve worked to successfully demand that facilities become an allowable use of federal COVID-19 relief funds, and we advocated in the U.S. Congress for federal funding for the nation’s under-resourced school facilities, for climate change education, for electric school bus resources, and more. Read our 2021 Legislative Priorities.
Pulling on our close relationships with school districts across the U.S., we bring real-world and on-the-ground knowledge of what is happening in school facilities management to federal policymakers and agencies. For example, in 2021 we published Preparation in the Pandemic, our report from a national survey we released with ASHRAE to collect information about school indoor air quality (IAQ) decision-making and implementation, which revealed the structural challenges that schools were having in implementing IAQ recommendations to combat COVID-19. The report highlights the need for facilities funding to be included in decision-making about federal COVID relief funding. Our 2022 follow-up report, Managing Air Quality During the Pandemic, reinforced these findings and additionally highlighted the impact on low-wealth and more rural school districts. Looking for specific information about our federal advocacy? Contact us.