DETROIT — State Rep. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) has introduced a bill to encourage schools to conduct energy audits of buildings every three and 10 years. The bill is part of a seven-bill package that aims to create healthy environments in schools to help students learn and grow. The other bills in the package are sponsored by Reps. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township), Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) and Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park). The bills would help schools improve the health and wellness of students and staff, reduce their environmental impact and energy costs and address environmental and sustainability literacy. The legislators will also create the Better Classroom Caucus to address the environmental and health factors in schools.
“Energy audits determine what improvements need to be made to school buildings to lower energy costs,” said Yanez. “Lower costs and more efficient uses of energy not only improve our children’s learning environment, but allow more money to be spent in the classroom, and reduce the overall burden on taxpayers.”
The seven-bill package consists of the following bills:
- School Energy Audits: Encourages each school building in a district to conduct an energy audit every three years and 10 years to identify potential efficiencies and conservation improvements. (Yanez)
- School Siting: Requires environmental assessments be conducted for any proposed school construction site or additions to an already acquired site. (Chang)
- Air and Water Testing: Requires the state Board of Education to revise its model local wellness policy to include a plan for testing the water and air quality in every school.(Camilleri)
- Environmental Testing Assistance Fund: Creates a one-time $9 million supplemental appropriation for water and air quality testing and remediation in schools. (Camilleri)
- Energy Efficient School Loan Fund: Creates a loan fund enabling schools to make renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. (Hoadley)
- School Lighting Standards: Suggests a lighting standard in newly constructed schools that would be in line with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) efficiency standards. (Wittenberg)
- Environmental Literacy Task Force: Creates the Environmental Literacy Task Force to develop an environmental literacy model curriculum designed to help students understand and address environmental challenges, contribute to students’ healthy lifestyles, improve existing environmental curriculum, and provide activities and programs that advance environmental education.
Legislators announced the package at a Detroit press conference earlier today and were joined by Emile Lauzzana, Director of Community-Michigan for the U.S. Green Building Council; Professor. Paul Mohai, from the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan; Professor. Byoung-Suk Kweon, from the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland and Michigan State Board of Education member Pam Pugh.
“U.S. Green Building Council is proud to support this effort and the Better Classrooms Caucus," said Emile Lauzzana, Director, Michigan Community USGBC. "States with green school policies teach students to lead in a changing world and demonstrate a commitment to fiscal responsibility, good job growth, and healthy, high-performance facilities.”
According to the USGBC, 18 Michigan schools have already achieved LEED standards and efficiency in their buildings. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, there are currently 13 states that have adopted policies similar to those proposed here in Michigan for new construction: Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Washington and Washington D.C.
"As a member of the Michigan State Board of Education and a Public Health Professional, I fully recognize the need for legislation that calls for greater assurance that ALL Michigan students have access to safe and healthy school environments, where children spend much of their day and during the most critical developmental stages of their lives,” said Pugh.