In October of 2009, SHP celebrated receipt of LEED Silver certification for Pleasant Ridge Montessori- the first LEED certified public K-12 school in the state of Ohio. That first LEED project was not an accident or a whim. It was the result of dedication by SHP Leading Design, the Ohio School Facilities Commission, and Pleasant Ridge to providing the healthiest, most energy efficient schools possible for the kids of Ohio. The LEED green building certification system is not free, there is an up-front cost associated with it for registration and certification review fees, not to mention the extra time and effort required to document it. I’m quick to tell you that LEED is not a prefect rating system- there are ways to “game” the system and too often it becomes about chasing points not creating the best, most sustainable buildings possible. That being said, LEED is so much better than the alternative- doing nothing. LEED forces conversations about designing buildings that are good stewards of occupant health and state dollars.
Since that first LEED school in 2009, the state of Ohio has mandated a minimum of LEED Silver certification for all school building projects that receive state funding. SHP has been a part of the successful LEED certifications of 20 additional public schools in Ohio and is working on almost three dozen more. The success stories are amazing- reduced sick days for students and staff, reduced disciplinary actions, increased enrollment rates and decreases in energy costs. The enrollment of Pleasant Ridge Montessori for instance has doubled and the school is already looking at ways to expand. The community has also embraced their new green school and property values have risen. What is the cost of all of this? A 3% increase in the amount of money the state provides for these school projects. That seems to be a small price to pay when green schools have been shown to drive economic development, improve student health and conserve resources for our children and grandchildren, and many of these schools will also see a financial return through reduced energy costs immediately.
Last Thursday, October 31, legislators introduced a bill into the Ohio Senate that would ban the use of the LEED Rating System on all public buildings. The passage of this bill would bring all of the progress we have seen toward healthy, energy-efficient schools in our state to a screeching halt or at the least act as a giant speed bump. It is still unclear when this piece of legislature called SCR 25 will be put up for a vote, but it could happen as soon as this week.
If you are interested in ensuring that Ohio schools continue to be healthy, happy, fiscally responsible places for our children to learn, you can help. A petition has been set up on change.org at the link below. On this page you will also find information on how to contact your local representatives to encourage them to vote no on SCR25.
Sign the Petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/act-now-against-toxic-schools