Ohio Schools' Energy Stats Challenge LEED Debate
M+A was recently recognized for our work on Columbus City School's Georgian Heights Elementary School at a celebration for Ohio's first 100 LEED certified schools. We are thrilled to be a part of this progressive time for Ohio as it is recognized to be a front runner for designing schools that are, on average, are 35% more energy efficient, use 37% less potable water, and have diverted over 188,000 tons of construction waste from landfills. These are not general statistics from USGBC, these are hard numbers gathered from these real projects. We've all experienced how determined school districts are in raising money to maintain their facilities, which is necessary in order to provide an education that prepares students for success in our global community. Its a great service to have these facts gathered and exciting to see they validate how our tax dollars are responsibly being used for facilities construction and maintenance. What will be even more exciting (and no doubt more difficult to gather) is, as these buildings are occupied for education purposes, metrics on the quality of education a student receives in a better lit and healthier building compared to buildings designed under no such standard.
Recently our industry has been actively participating in conversations regarding the validity of LEED, and with perspectives from both sides of the argument. One positive characteristic of LEED is it provides us a framework for metrics to study the effectiveness of our designs. Without a rating system identifying design baselines, it is increasingly challenging to study the effectiveness. LEED certified schools in Ohio have provided us with a respectfully large data set to be studied and analyzed in determining whether LEED is worth the effort and expense. The regional USGBC chapters are currently in the process of gathering this information now.
Today, LEED's validity as a system for improving a building's bottom line is under refute in the State Senate. There is a resolution being considered in our Ohio government, literally as I write this, that could impact the future LEED certifications of taxpayer funded school projects. It's fascinating there is not more opposition to this resolution given the current trends toward government spending transparency. The rating system is not perfect of course, but that is why it is constantly under scrutiny to evolve and be updated - as we would expect from our basic building codes. It appears this is the underlying cause for the discussion in the Senate, and it is my hope Senators come to a realization and move the conversation outside of the proposed resolution. This would help against compromising the requirement to use the most comprehensive building rating system to holding our educators accountable for our tax dollars, and the health and education of future generations.
If you are interested in learning more and following along, there are countless posts (a few are following) online regarding the progress of Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 (SCR25). A quick Google search should get you going as well.