Green Schools Bill Moves to the Senate

A bill that will create greener schools cleared the house, but faces a tough fight in the Senate and President Bush's veto.

Last month, to far (FAR) less attention than it merited, the House of Representatives (facing an Administration veto threat) passed the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act with $20 billion for greening public schools across the nation.

Taking aggressive action to green schools is about one of the smartest steps the nation can take, action that should go beyond bipartisanship to true unity of action as it is a win-win-win-win strategy along so many paths:

  • Save money for communities and taxpayers

  • Create employment

  • Foster capacity for ‘greening’ the nation

  • Reduce pollution loads

  • Improve health

  • Improve student performance / achievement

And, well, other benefits. In the face of these benefits, “The White House threateneda veto, saying it was wrong for the federal government to launch a costly new school-building program.”

About the bill

The legislationpassed on a vote of 250-164, a substantial majority but not veto proof and awaits Senate action. It would provide $20 billion in the coming five years for school construction across the country (with $100 million per year allocated specifically for Katrina/Rita impacted areas). A major focus of this legislation is to drive greener design and building practices within schools, with 50% of funding in 2009 and 90% in 2013 “for public school modernization, renovation, or repairs that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating standards, Energy Star standards, or equivalent standards.” It also provides for a far more aggressive Department of Education effort to foster such green practices throughout America’s school infrastructure.
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