For years, much controversy has existed for the toxic environments provided with school buildings. Air quality, mold growth, broken and outdated furniture, lead in pipes and paint, and asbestos-containing materials are only a few of the items that contaminate the buildings. New technology and recycled clean materials provide options for refurbishing or constructing new school buildings. The health of students, staff, and visitors is a main consideration for the maintenance of healthy buildings. Respiratory and other environmental illnesses have evidenced increased rates of occurrence and have prompted lawsuits as well as new designs for materials and building.
One activist is Dr. William Rea. Well respected as an environmental health advocate, Rea has written several books regarding including considerations for healthy construction and these items are equally applicable for schools. The U.S. Green Building Council offers numerous resources for school construction that includes information for resources and contacts for different states to support the concerns for healthy school environments. As well, featured school projects are included such as the Irving, Texas, Lady Bird Johnson Middle School. The energy-efficient design of the building is the first in the state. Educating students, parents, school administrators, and community members about healthy living is an important responsibility and Center for Environmental Education (CCE) provides instructional materials that foster discovery of information.
The CCE curricula are designed to enhance awareness of alternative choices for building and maintaining healthy environments. Students are encouraged to use concepts from all subject areas to enhance discovery methods for the location of alternative energy sources as one component of the different options provided with the curricula. Innovative school design and lesson planning is a must for the demands of current education and awareness of healthy living and building. School policy-makers require access to information and resources that afford them responsible choices for implementing and assessing the changes necessary to enhance the educational opportunities and advancements for students and all involved parties. Healthy buildings and healthy-living instructional materials are affordable. As more school agencies support such initiatives, students are afforded with future opportunities to become well-educated, healthy, and new proponents of ideals that sustain creative alternatives for the future.