Read the full story at USA Today.
The Houston Independent School District took a big step in 2007 toward becoming environmentally friendly by designing two new schools to meet a coveted “green” standard set by a private-builders’ group.
The nation’s seventh-largest school district added features such as automated light sensors and a heat-reflecting roof, in hopes of minimizing energy use.
But the schools are not operating as promised.
Thompson Elementary ranked 205th out of 239 Houston schools in a report last year for the district that showed each school’s energy cost per student. Walnut Bend Elementary ranked 155th. A third “green” school, built in 2010, ranked 46th in the report, which a local utility did for the district to find ways of cutting energy costs.
Poor equipment maintenance plagued the schools built in 2007, a problem that districtwide improvements are now addressing, said Gavin Dillingham, the district’s energy manager until August.
“People have the mistaken impression that once buildings are LEED-certified, they’re always going to run energy-efficiently,” Dillingham said. “They don’t.”
The problems in Houston illustrate the little-discussed uncertainty of “green schools,” which promise huge energy savings and rising student performance, but do not always deliver, despite their extra cost.