Legal Issues for Green Schools

Legal Issues for Green Schools

Robert Waller (North Georgia College and State University, USA) and Elaine M. Artman (Mercer University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6312-1.ch020


School systems will need to stay abreast of the various levels of legal changes as global green sustainability programs expand during the 21th century. This chapter explains the legal guidelines and legislation that direct green school design, green operations, connection between environment and cognitive functioning, and equity. The final topic in this chapter is supportive legislative currently in place to support green schools and suggestions for future legislation needed for future green school construction.
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Current Investments In Green Schools

Between 2002 and 2012 over $20 billion on average had been spent annually for school construction (Abramson, 2012). Although investment in school facilities had fallen off by 2012, as had all construction during the Great Recession, K-12 school districts still spent $25.2 billion on major renovations and new construction (Abramson, 2013). However, estimates of continued deferred maintenance (Filardo, Vincent, Sung & Stein, 2006; Abramson, 2013) find the annual rates of capital investment do not meet the minimal building needs of school districts. This disparity has led advocates to lobby for federal appropriations, grant programs and other legislative funding measures to support green school construction and renovation (Baker & Bernstein, 2012). School districts often find themselves in the precarious position of having to choose between curricular resources and facility resources, often without adequate information to make informed decisions (Center for Green Schools, 2013).

Even with restrictive budgets, spending on school construction projects in 2012 was slightly higher than the previous year–$12.9 billion in 2012 compared with $12.2 billion in 2011–however, the spending for new construction declined from $6.9 billion to 6.2 billion. The $6.2 billion that had been spent on new schools accounted for 47.6 percent of all the construction dollars and was the first time in 12 years that spending for new construction as less than spending on existing facilities.

The increase in spending for facility investments was attributable to a major increase in spending for additions to existing schools and a major increase in spending for renovations and upgrading to existing buildings (Abramson, 2013). Abramson speculated that the renovations were prompted by the president’s request Congress provide funds for upgrading the nation’s infrastructure problems, including deteriorating schools. However, when Congress failed to act, school districts that had plans in place and projects were ready to go may have moved forward with reconstruction and retrofit using local funds, “hoping, perhaps, that federal dollars might still come their way” (Abramson, 2013, p. CR3).

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