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Neo

Eco-friendly classrooms?

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An interesting project that I knew nothing about until today came across my screen. Carolina International School was just given approval of a conditional use permit to build a $5.5 million eco-friendly classroom facility by Cabarrus County. Carolina International School is a North Carolina public charter school in Harrisburg, NC.

I'm questioning whether or not funds should be used for eco-friendly facilities for entire school systems and whether or not tax payers would approve such structures within entire school systems given the already constrained funds for our public school system. I can't see how such eco-friendly buildings would improve education since that lies in the hands of the teachers and administration, but are there underlying benefits to such designs?

Rendering of the new facility for Carolina International School:

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post-1-1179505074_thumb.jpg

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well, we toured this school (CIS) this winter - hoping to get our daughter enrolled (lottery). unfortunately, we were not selected. the plans for this school are superb and well thought out... the school focuses on environmental sciences - so, in that regards - i think their efforts certainly benefit. also, the plan for this school calls for classrooms to be predominently lit up by sunlight. the dean (principal) of the school cited studies that show higher grades and longer attention span - in classrooms lit with natural light. i think this protype of school is the way of the future.

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I can't see how such eco-friendly buildings would improve education since that lies in the hands of the teachers and administration, but are there underlying benefits to such designs?

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I think the key to seeing more changes like this is to tie the "green" design into cost-efficiency. As has been pointed out above, it's possible to save money by sunlighting rooms, using more efficient electrical systems, etc. Once it becomes cheaper to build "green", support for it will become overwhelming.

But if it's more expensive, I'd say that cost efficiency outweighs environmental concerns. There are only a handful of schools within any given community (only a few in some entire counties), so it's not like they're leaving a huge environmental footprint to start with. The school systems are already stretching their budgets enough (thanks Bush); the biggest gains will be made by putting more pressure on developers, auto manufacturers, and large corporations to become more earth-friendly.

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