Cost Analysis of Green School Initiatives

Cost Analysis of Green School Initiatives

Thomas J. McCormack (Columbus State University, USA), Pamela Lemoine (Columbus State University, USA) and Deirdre Greer (Columbus State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6312-1.ch022


It is the intent of this chapter to present information and strategies that will assist readers in comparing conventional school construction and energy sources and costs to those defined or identified as being green. It is hoped that parents, school administrators, school boards, and legislators will benefit from access to a cost analysis of green school initiatives and use this information in their decision making process for future school construction initiatives.
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Attempts to compare conventional school construction costs with those defined as being “green school initiative” can be very difficult. Vincent and McKoy confirm this when they state that, “…The literature on school construction costs is minimal as few researchers have investigated the subject. Most analysis comes from the construction industry itself and as such, availability of data poses a major challenge to research at national and local levels…..part of the difficulty lies in the fact that school construction costs are often not systematically tracked and/or reported. In states where they are, these procedures are typically too new to allow for any longitudinal analysis of cost trends. The second issue is making sure that costs are being compared adequately. Because construction costs can be defined in numerous ways, comparison must ensure an “apples to apples” analysis. Often across sources, this can be difficult to assess, especially in separating the differences between “hard” and “soft” costs and in the case of “hard” costs, whether or not the amount reflects the construction bid or whether it is the final construction expense change orders” (Vincent, p10).

According to the National Center for Education Statistics web page student populations are increasing (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012). At the same time school budgets are shrinking (Johnson, Oliff & Williams, 2011). As school boards look to provide the much needed classroom space for expanding enrollments they must consider their fiscal responsibilities and expend the public funds in the most efficient and effective manner possible. This will require school boards to educate themselves regarding cost analysis of renovating schools, new school construction, and the long term benefits of various “green” school designs.

The current trend is to design and build new schools that are “green.” These new schools are being designed and built to reduce the daily maintenance and operations costs and at the same time provide learning environments that are healthy, comfortable, and productive. Because of shrinking school budgets, one of the problems with the green school design is that green schools are usually more expensive to build than schools built with conventional school designs (Kats).

Facing reductions in funding allocations some school boards are opting to renovate and/or retrofit existing school facilities rather than the more costly option of building new school facilities. Renovations can cover a multitude of facility needs like the lack of adequate classroom space, lowering energy costs, and creating healthier and safer learning environments. Like new school construction, when the decision is made to renovate existing schools, school boards must consider the financial benefits, long term maintenance benefits, and the sustainability benefits of using green school design to renovate or retrofit existing school facilities (Greim, 2005).

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