Green Schools Summit promotes environmental responsibility in schools

Submitted by New York State Governor's office
2007-10-15 22:27:47

October 15, 2007
Green Schools Summit promotes environmental responsibility in schools
Governor Eliot Spitzer and First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer today joined Congressman Steve Israel in highlighting the importance of “green” construction – a key component of the administration's energy conservation agenda. Congressman Israel's initiative would provide incentives in the form of federal matching funds to school districts implementing state guidelines through investment in energy efficiency upgrades and the use of renewable energy technology. The summit held at Farmingdale State College detailed the resources available for green construction and the importance of teaching energy efficiency and environmental responsibility in schools.
Green buildings are a major component of the administration’s efforts to fight global warming, reduce energy consumption and promote environmental sustainability. The energy use in buildings accounts for 39% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, 7% of which is attributable to school buildings. Green school improvements reduce operating costs, improve indoor air quality, conserve natural resources, and enhance the learning environment by making schools healthier and more comfortable places to work and learn.
“By promoting green schools, we instill in the next generation that environmental sustainability and stewardship are important values,” said Governor Spitzer. “In an economy that rewards knowledge, innovation and creativity, we cannot miss the opportunity to provide kids with safe and healthy learning environments.”
Congressman Steve Israel, a Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, which sets funding levels for federal energy spending, said: "Many schools were built when energy prices were low. This aging infrastructure is blowing tax dollars out the windows. By incentivizing schools to retrofit with energy efficient technologies and renewable resources, we can save tax dollars, create new energy markets, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to provide federal matching funds to school districts that implement the state energy efficiency guidelines announced last month right here on Long Island."
First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer focused attention on green buildings earlier this year by announcing her “Greening the Mansion” initiative – a project to transform the Governor’s Mansion into a certified green building. The project will also include a high-tech, inter-active educational component that will help school children understand energy efficiency, renewable energy, and global warming.
First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer said: "Building green schools can help us achieve our goal of making New York a more energy efficient state and foster a healthy learning environment for our next generation. Today's summit demonstrates that New York State is ready to lead the way in this effort and looking ahead, our environmentally-friendly schools will serve as powerful educational and economic models."
Paul D. Tonko, President and CEO of NYSERDA, said: “Implementing energy efficient and environmentally responsible improvements in schools not only improves the environment as a whole, but enhances the learning environment within schools. Green schools are healthy, energy efficient and comfortable, and have been shown to contribute to reduced absenteeism and better teacher and staff retention.”
Long Island Power Authority President and CEO Kevin Law said: “The Green Schools Summit offers the opportunity to learn about the resources available to help New York State schools become more energy efficient and green. Accessing these resources can bring significant benefits to a school in terms of lower energy costs, a healthier environment for students and faculty, and will be educationally valuable, helping the school community better understand the importance of saving energy and reducing their impact on the environment.”
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis said: “We know that green buildings use less energy, require less material costs, use less natural resources and emit less pollution. Forums like this help encourage schools across the state to move toward green buildings, helping to create smarter, cleaner and healthier communities.”
Green buildings generally meet several criteria for sustainability – energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable materials, recycling and smart land use practices, among others. Green schools, in particular, emphasize the importance of green cleaning products, fresh and nutritious organic food, and clean indoor air.
This announcement follows a series of environmental and energy initiatives that the Spitzer Administration has undertaken to reduce energy demands and reverse global warming. The Governor's “15 by 15” plan was initiated to reduce energy demands 15% from projected levels by 2015. The plan includes: new and expanded efficiency programs; improved building codes; legislation that would provide incentive payments to New Yorkers who build or renovate their homes to meet green building standards; legislation to increase energy efficiency standards for appliances; and a new policy at the State Dormitory that all new Dormitory Authority buildings will meet green building standards. Together, this package of initiatives will result in a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of more than 12 million tons each year.
The Green Schools Summit was convened together with NYSERDA, LIPA and Congressman Israel.

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