The High-Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus Coalition (HPBCC) is a private sector coalition providing guidance and support to the High-Performance Buildings Caucus. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) were lead sponsors of this briefing and are members of the HPBCCC. Co-sponsors of this briefing include the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Carpet and Rug Institute, American National Standards Institute, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Ecobuild America, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Green Building Initiative (GBI), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Green Mechanical Council, National Institute of Building Sciences, Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC), and Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance.
On October 21, the High-Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus Coalition held a briefing to discuss how some school districts are building facilities that save thousands of dollars a year on energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impact, and are "healthier" and safer than conventional schools. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) and Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), co-chairs of the High-Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus, provided opening remarks, each noting the many benefits of high performance green schools and that this is "truly a bi-partison issue."
- "High performance" considers a broad array of design objectives: sustainability and all the elements of green design, accessibility, cost effectiveness, safety and security, functionality, productivity, aesthetics, and historic preservation.
- Schools typically spend five times as much on operating costs than on construction costs for their buildings, which can be attributed to utility bills and maintenance costs.
- High performance green schools can be built with minimal upfront costs, which are recovered through energy savings over the life cycle of the building.
- Green schools create more productive learning environments. The implementation of proper daylighting and acoustics has proven to improve student attendance, teacher satisfaction, and academic performance.
- Green schools also create healthier learning environments. Advanced ventilation systems and air filters reduce airborne allergens and the risk of asthma. Green schools reduce liability exposure by using eco-friendly paints and flooring, as well as enforcing stricter policies for school bus emissions and idling.
- A key to minimizing upfront costs of implementing these measures is to use a holistic approach and integrate the high performance design goals in the first stages of new construction.
- It is also essential to use energy analysis tools to optimize the energy performance of existing buildings. When you measure energy usage, you can manage it much more effectively.
- States and municipalities have begun to fund programs such as the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), which provide essential resources for schools to go green.
- LEED for Schools has become an important rating system guiding the construction of new high performance schools. The Green Globes rating system and CHPS also certifiy green schools.
- The National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities also provides a wealth of information.
- There is virtually no federal support for school construction, even though studies have criticized crumbling school facilities and praised green schools for improving student health and achievement, conserving natural resources, and saving energy and money for school systems.
- In 2008, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act and the No Child Left Inside Act. Key federal legislation on high performance green schools was included in the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140), which, if funded, would provide grants for healthy school environments and outreach.