By Harriet Blake
Green Right Now

The first daughters’ new school, Sidwell Friends in Washington, has been awarded the top LEED rating of platinum. But learning institutions across the nation are joining the ranks of LEED-qualified schools, as educators recognize both the health benefits for children and the long term energy savings of building greener.

Sidwell earned 57 out of a possible 69 points on the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rankings. At the recent Green Build conference in Boston, the USGBC recognized several schools, including Sidwell, for their green advances.

Photo: U.S. Green Building Council

Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, Colo., received a silver LEED (36 points) designation for new construction in 2005 by becoming 60 percent more energy efficient and saving $11,500 in annual water savings. They accomplished this by putting in lighting occupancy sensors, connecting heating and air conditioning systems to occupancy and using “heat wheels” for heat recovery.

The school makes and stores ice during the night so it can cool the building during the day. Carbon offsets are achieved by wind power purchases. Since water conservation is a huge issue in Colorado, the school uses a raw water pond for campus irrigation, installed low-flow faucets and toilets and also uses artificial turf for the athletic field.