Energy Conservation, Student Performance Top Reasons for Improving U.S. Public Schools

Energy conservation and improved student performance top the list of reasons why Americans believe the country’s public school buildings should be upgraded, according to a recent independent poll, commissioned by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and sponsored by Excel Dryer, Inc. Results also show an increase in support for green schools, finding that eight out of 10 Americans support schools that create a healthy environment conducive to learning, while also saving energy, resources, and money.

The Renaissance Academy in Virginia Beach, VA has achieved LEED Gold certification. (Source: Virginia Beach City Public Schools)

The results from the nationwide survey, which investigates attitudes toward quality of U.S. public school infrastructure and investments in modernization, were announced at the 2015 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in Washington, DC.

This is the first time energy conservation has topped the list since the survey was initially conducted in 2011 – its last iteration was in 2013. This year, saving energy was on par with improved student performance as the two biggest motives for change, followed closely by improved student and faculty health. Additional considerations included reducing environmental impacts, creating jobs, and saving tax dollars.

“These findings confirm that ensuring that all of our children have the opportunity to attend a school that is healthy, safe and efficient is a priority for Americans,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. “Green schools save energy and money and put dollars back into the classrooms where they belong. It’s staggering to note that utility bills are the second highest operating expense for a school district, second only to teacher salaries; but by implementing energy efficiency measures, precious tax dollars can be dispersed in a more meaningful way toward a quality education for our children.”

The findings of the poll point to a growing awareness of the need for better school buildings. Ninety-two percent of Americans across party lines agree that the quality of public school buildings should be improved, and nearly two-thirds of Americans feel it is very important to improve public school buildings.

“Excel Dryer is committed to improving the learning environment for our nation’s children,” said Excel Dryer’s Vice President of Marketing, William Gagnon. “The results from the survey this year show a significant increase in awareness about the importance of conserving energy. We are thrilled to be working with the Center for Green Schools to increase the adoption of energy saving solutions that reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment and also teach our children about the importance of protecting the environment.”

The independent survey of 500 U.S. residents was conducted via telephone from Nov. 3-8, 2015 and administered by David Binder Research, a public opinion research organization that specializes in qualitative research.