Last month, the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act (H.R. 2187) passed out of the House and was sent to committee in the Senate. The Act would allocate $6.4 billion in its first year to build and modernize public schools with a focus on energy efficiency, health, and safety upgrades. The main school systems targeted would be public schools that serve low-income families.
Those who oppose the bill state that it costs too much and cite the underfunded Title I program as well as the woefully underfunded Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act as examples of great ideas that are faltering due to funding issues.
Despite the naysayers, the bill did pass through Congress with mostly partisan support. While the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions sits on the bill, companies across the United States are prepared to step up to the plate to green up America’s schools should the funding get approved. Two such companies are architectural design firm Perkins+Will and Limbach, a 100+ year-old engineering firm.
Perkins+Will has received quite a bit of recognition this past year for its award-winning green designs including two of the ten projects on the American Institute of Architect’s top green projects list, one of the projects cited by TIME as a 2009 top green architecture project, and several LEED certified projects including the LEED Platinum Ohlone College Newark Center.
While Perkins+Will can be a design force behind new construction projects, Limbach has the experience needed for green renovations including energy efficiency upgrades and energy audits. Limbach employs several LEED Accredited Professionals and has worked on the LEED Gold certified Pittsburgh Convention Center and the LEED Platinum certified National Resources Defense Council Robert Redford Building in Santa Monica, California.
These companies are just two examples of businesses that are ready to help the nation’s public school system take advantage of the $6.4 billion in proposed funding, should it pass the Senate.
Regardless of one’s thoughts about the price tag on the bill or the lack of adequate funding for other government-funded education projects, there is no question that the nation’s schools need to be made more energy efficient as well as be built with the children’s health and safety in mind.