As of 2013, 50 percent of the carbon emissions in the United States were contributed by buildings; they use over half of all electricity produced, and each day go through billions of gallons of potable water. In a time when resources are used more quickly than they are made, it is important to teach future generations about conservation and environmentally friendly decisions. What better way than to teach them in a school that uses sustainable methods to power and maintain itself?
Research shows that a new movement of teaching students in green buildings, or buildings that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly, are likely to know more and care more about conservation. These green, conscientious youths are more likely to make decisions with environmental goals later in life. This early education and exposure makes the students more likely to carry their environmentally conscientious habits into their adult life, leading them to make conservative and green decisions.
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Green buildings work toward sustainability in three key ways: through energy efficient practices (such as using solar power and lowering water consumption), low material utilization through careful design, and protection of the ecosystem through native plantings and careful plot selection.
Green buildings are great teaching tools, because they expose children not only to the issue of excess energy consumption, but also to viable solutions for over-consumption. Many green buildings display real-time data for utility usage, which encourages children to reduce their contribution by turning off lights, recycling, and other efforts to reduce their footprint. By engaging our children in the sorts of conservation-related activities we should all be doing, perhaps one day we’ll all pitch in to help save our planet. After all, it all starts with education.