State, Local Leaders Highlight Cost Savings, Job Creation Potential, Environmental Benefits of Modern, Green Schools

Local school officials, state, labor and environmental leaders held a press event at American Canyon High School today to call for state and federal investments to modernize schools.

December 13, 2011

 Event at American Canyon High School Will Showcase Benefits of Modernizing Public School 

AMERICAN CANYON, CA (December 13, 2011) — Local school officials, state, labor and environmental leaders held a press event today to call for state and federal investments to modernize schools. They gathered to discuss the cost savings, health and environmental benefits, and job growth potential of modernizing and greening California’s schools. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that modern, green schools can save $100,000 per year on operating costs — enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 textbooks. High performance, green schools also use, on average, 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than other schools.

The American Canyon High School served as the backdrop for the event. It is the first school in the nation to complete the certification process for the Collaborative for Performance Schools, a green compliance standard. The campus features natural day lighting in all classrooms, low flow water fixtures, and utilizes both photovoltaic solar and geothermal energy.

“With strategic investments we can modernize our schools and make them greener, helping our students, teachers and support staff by giving them a safer and healthier learning environment, while reducing pollution and waste,” said State Assemblymember Mariko Yamada. “We’re also creating jobs, both in construction and in other industries that supply the materials for these upgrades.”

The American Canyon campus produces as much as 66 percent of its own energy, dramatically impacting costs to taxpayers for energy. According to school officials, an average high school of its size spends $200,000 to $300,000 per year on energy alone.

“When we didn’t have a school here, students were bussed miles out of the city to go to school,” said Patrick Sweeney, Superintendent of the Napa Valley Unified School District. “Now, they can walk to this neighborhood green school, that is a shining example of innovation in green space.”

“We’re exceptionally proud of this facility that not only is saving taxpayer dollars but also is reducing pollution and energy waste,” said Don Evans, Director of School Planning and Construction, Napa Valley Unified School District.

“Rebuilding our current schools to be more efficient and healthy needs to be a priority for government at all levels,” said Belia Ramos Bennett, City Councilmember from the city of American Canyon.

Construction on the school began in 2008 and it was dedicated in 2010. Members of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Union (SMWIA) — a partner in the BlueGreen Alliance — constructed the facility. The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of 11 labor unions and four environmental organizations working to expand the number and quality of jobs in the green economy.

“Our members are exceedingly proud to have built this great school,” said Brett Risley, Business Manager for SMWIA Local Union 104. “Many other schools in our state need to be modernized and made more green, and that’s an opportunity not just for better schools, but also for good jobs for thousands of construction workers in our state that have been stuck on the bench waiting to work.”

“We should focus on greening our schools in every area,” said Carl Pope from Sierra Club, a co-founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “From energy and water efficient buildings to transportation to educating our young people about the importance of the environment, modernizing and greening our schools will help us build a brighter future for the youth of America.”

“The technologies that are cutting edge today will be commonplace tomorrow,” said State Assemblymember Michael Allen. “By being forward-thinking and making wise choices now, we can create a more sustainable California for generations to come.”

“Making our schools more modern will create good jobs that people in our state desperately need,” said Lisa Hoyos, the California Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “California’sGlobal Warming Solutions Act of 2006 envisioned buildings like this school — ones that reduce carbon emissions and energy use. In more ways than one, we’re investing in our kids.”