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Quantifying the Impacts of Green Schools on People and Planet

Format PDF
Type Reports
Authored by Ihab Elzeyadi
Published by U.S. Green Building Council
Published on 14 Nov 2012

This paper reports on a state-of-the-art study quantifying resource consumption, health, and human impacts of LEED credits achieved in K-12 schools on student’s health and performance of educational environments. The study attempts to quantify an important yet not scientifically proven assumption concerning the relationship between green building certification and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) strategies in schools and their impacts on a number of metrics concerning children’s activity levels, obesity rates, disruptive behavior, indoor comfort, and sick building syndrome complaints. The specific hypothesis tested is; that children with more livable and connected school sites as well as better IEQ strategies in their classrooms will have more activity levels, better health metrics, have fewer obesity rates, are more comfortable,and have fewer Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) symptoms than those with poorer connected schools and in classrooms with poor IEQ metrics. A corollary hypothesis is whether LEED credits related to sustainable sites, energy and Atmosphere, and indoor environmental quality could also play a role in explaining the number of SBS symptoms and body mass index disparities related to poor IEQ conditions and poor activity levels of children in both elementary and middle schools. This is an objective to answer and quantify a long debated hypothesis regarding the importance of green schools and LEED credits earned on the triple bottom line impacts for people, profit, and planet.

This paper reports on a comprehensive multi-year comparative study evaluating the performance of 16 LEED and non-LEED schools in the Pacific Northwest. For the first systematic study of this scale, we assessed LEED credits earned of schools, land use and site variables, transportation patterns, indoor environmental quality together with their impact on school’s resource operations data, carbon expenditure, obesity rates, activity levels of children, health, and human performance. To control for organizational and economic variables, the comparative pairs of LEED/non-LEED schools were matched to control for climatic, organizational, as well as socio-economic disparities between schools within the same districts. The paper will report on the findings from a statistical correlational model of performance data across the 16 comparative schools (8 LEED and 8 non-LEED), impact of LEED credits achieved, as well as lessons learned in design, construction,
and operation of green schools to deliver evidence-based strategies for green schools of the future.


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