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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
LEED schools
(wgvu) - LEED-ing the way for schools

Nov. 8, 2007

By B. Candace Beeke

Grand Rapids is part of a national push to build greener schools in
conjunction with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

The western Michigan chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council is
calling on schools throughout the region to discuss the new LEED for
Schools campaign, said Renae Hesselink, marketing chair for the chapter
and vice president of sales management at Nichols Paper and Supply Co.
in Muskegon.

The response I'm getting so far on trying to set appointments with
superintendents and facilities directors everyone's wanting to
talk, Hesselink said. Right now we're focusing on Kent County,
but I've already gotten interest from Muskegon County.

Schools represent the largest construction category in the United
States, the USGBC reports. Building a green school compared to a
conventional school costs two percent or about $3 per square foot
more, but yields 20 times more financial returns.

But when it ultimately comes to supporting it financially, school
boards and parents need to push it, Hesselink said.
Many public schools remain rooted in the lowest-bid mentality.
It's a mindshift, Hesselink said. They feel like they have
to be fiscally responsible to taxpayers, (but) only looking at the price
of the product is not the true picture.

LEED-certified buildings, according to the USGBC:
Use 30 to 50 percent less energy
Use 40 percent less water
Reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 38 percent.

Green schools save $100,000 per year on average, and student test
performance, as well as health, often increases substantially.
USGBC unveiled the new standard in April and gathered some 65 chapter
affiliates, including Hesselink, in September for training.

It's going to take a lot of education, she said. My first
goal is to form a core committee. It's going to move fast. We need to
get other people trained to talk about it.

That committee, which will train later this month, already includes
architects and a school energy manager.

Western Michigan schools that have or are pursuing LEED
Forest Hills Public,
Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids Public
West Ottawa Public, Holland
Grand Rapids West Catholic
Kalamazoo Public
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