Ohio leads nation in green school projects

Industry council says state has 315 LEED-certified projects.

By Margo Rutledge Kissell, Staff Writer12:02 AM Monday, December 12, 2011

Ohio leads the country with more green school projects under way than any other state, the U.S. Green Building Council said in a report released today.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit released its first Best of Green Schools list recognizing recipients from across the country — from K-12 to higher education — for a variety of sustainable, cost-cutting measures including energy conservation.

In the state category, Ohio is the leader with 315 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building-registered and -certified projects, including 19 schools registered this year.

The rating system contains nationally accepted benchmarks for the design, construction and operation of high performing green buildings.

“It’s wonderful and such an honor to receive this award because it shows the rest of the United States what’s happening truly in our state,” said Sue Meyer, a spokeswoman for the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

She also credited OSFC partners, including school districts, architects and construction teams.

Ohio has spent about $9.4 billion on renovation and construction of schools, Meyer said.

So far, more than 860 new or renovated buildings have been occupied.

Approximately 175 schools are under construction and 60 more schools are in the active design phase, Meyer said.

An earlier Dayton Daily News analysis found that Miami Valley school districts have spent more than $1.8 billion on school construction, thanks to available state funding that helped fuel an unprecedented building boom in Ohio. In 1999, then-Gov. Bob Taft announced his plan to spend the state’s $10 billion tobacco settlement to rebuild schools.

Dayton Public Schools soon will complete its construction program, the largest in the region. The state is paying about 60 percent of the costs, with local funds coming from a $245 million bond issue passed by voters in 2002.

On Jan. 4, it will open the last of its 26 new schools — Wright Brothers PreK-8.

Dayton Public is home to two of nine schools in Ohio that have received LEED gold certification — Meadowdale High School and Edison PreK-8 School, Meyer said. The addition at Butler Tech in Hamilton also has received gold certification, currently the highest level that has been achieved in Ohio.

There also is silver level and a platinum status, which several schools are now striving to reach.

“We do believe we will see several in the early part of 2012,” she said.

The council estimates that, on average, green schools save about $100,000 a year on operating costs, including energy and water savings. That translates into the Dayton Public district saving an estimated $2.6 million a year for its new schools as well as better air quality and a healthier all-around environment for students and staff.

Meyer said these days it doesn’t cost more to build a green school than a traditional one.

“Probably in the early phases years ago when we were new at this and we didn’t know what to expect we actually did build in a little additional funding,” she said. “But we’re seeing now a lot of the LEED projects are coming in on budget or under budget, which is very exciting news for us.”

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2094 or mkissell@DaytonDaily?News.com.

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