The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating systems are the ultimate in green building standards.  In 2007, a new rating system was released specifically for K-12 schools.  The LEED for Schools checklist can be used for both newly constructed buildings as well as the renovation of existing buildings.

"Green schools are healthy for students, teachers and the environment. Built right, green schools are productive learning environments with ample natural light, high-quality acoustics and air that is safe to breathe.  Schools everywhere are going green, nurturing children while saving money." Source: USGBC

The LEED for Schools checklist has a maximum of 79 points available.  A school receiving 29-36 points will be LEED certified, 37-43 points will qualify the school for LEED silver certification and schools that score 44-57 points will receive LEED gold certification.  LEED platinum certification is reserved for schools that score between 58 and 79 points.

The ratings checklist is similar to other LEED certification programs, but there are a few key differences.  In the Indoor Environmental Quality section, there are separate categories for daylight and views in classrooms and other spaces within the building.  An emphasis is placed on natural lighting in the classrooms with two additional points available for schools that have daylight in 90 percent of the classrooms.

The LEED for Schools Indoor Environmental Quality section also includes credits for enhanced acoustical performance and mold prevention.  These two categories are not found in the LEED for New Construction checklist.

As a parent, I would love to see more schools strive for LEED certification.  Although the economy may prevent many schools from doing so at this time, the provision for funding energy efficiency upgrades in K-12 schools that is in the recovery package will certainly help get the process started.

Photo by mrpbps

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