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Green schools enhance learning.

Good teachers are the most important factor in improving student performance, but healthy school facilities contribute significantly as well. Healthy indoor air quality and classroom acoustics are just two elements of green schools that can contribute directly to enhanced student and teacher performance. Fewer sick days for teachers and students means a better education for our kids.

Indoor Air Quality

  • Students in America miss approximately 14 million school days per year because of asthma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Controlling exposure to indoor environmental factors, such as carbon monoxide, dust, and pollen, could prevent more than 65 percent of asthma cases among elementary school-age children, reports the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
  • More than 20 percent of public schools reported having unsatisfactory indoor air quality, according to the Department of Edication. Carnegie Mellon University has shown in studies that there is an average overall health improvement rate of 41 percent due to improved indoor air quality.
  • Asthma is the leading cause of disease-related absenteeism in U.S. public schools. By improving indoor air quality, green schools can improve the health of students, faculty and staff, potentially decreasing sick days. With public schools relying on average daily attendance rates to receive federal funding, improved attendance is of particular importance.
  • When toxic chemicals — often found in paint, flooring and furniture as well as conventional cleaning, pest management and snow removal products — are eliminated, students and staff report less eye, nose and throat irritation, and asthma-related incidents decline.
  • There are an estimated 40 to 60 chemical injuries per year for every 1,000 school custodians — mostly chemical burns to the eyes and skin and damage to the respiratory system. These injuries cost about $25 million each year in workers’ compensation and lost time. Another study of nearly 2,000 confirmed cases of work-related asthma found nearly 12 percent of those cases were directly associated with exposure to cleaning products similar to those used in schools, hotels and other commercial facilities. By requiring the use of green cleaning products and procedures, schools ensure safe and healthy work environments for both students and staff.

Classroom Acoustics

Optimizing classroom acoustics so children can hear is a primary foundation for learning, and helps preserve teacher health — the average teacher misses two days per year due to vocal strain, according to NCES. When working and learning in a high-performing acoustic environment, students and teachers are given the opportunity for effective communication. In this way, a green school provides an environment that lessens distractions, encourages participation, and instills a sense of pride and importance in all of its students.

Reproduced with permissions from the Center for Green Schools