On the first full day of the conference, I participated on a panel discussion titled “How to Capitalize on the Green Movement”.  Rachel Gutter from the USGBC moderated, and other panelists were Andrea Falken of the U.S. Department of Education, Greg Cooney of Frank Cooney Company, Leigh Ann Clark of the Philadelphia School District, and Irene Nigaglioni of PBK Architects.  Andrea led off with a fascinating description of the Department of Education’s recently unveiled Green Ribbon Schools program.  This program will rely on three green pillars – Resource Efficiency, Healthy Learning Environments, and Environmental Literacy. Colorado, along with 34 states, has indicated its desire to participate. 

Leigh Ann spoke about Philadelphia’s efforts to upgrade their older stock of buildings (average age 63 years!), Irene mentioned the comprehensive CEFPI analysis of previous learning space research, and Greg spoke about challenges encountered in his career in furnishings and school design.  Rachel did a fantastic job of moderating our large panel, throwing appropriate questions to each of us, and getting the audience involved. 

For my portion of the presentation, I focused on the rapid evolution of the Green Schools Movement.  I believe we have moved through four stages in only the last ten years.  They are:

  • Stage One – Schools that save energy or avoid greenhouse gas
  • Stage Two – Schools that teach lessons in sustainability
  • Stage Three – Schools that display actual energy use in real time
  • Stage Four – Schools that empower students to become involved in energy management