As Cincinnati Public Schools rebuilt and updated its fleet of school buildings from 2002-2014, the district added environmentally friendly elements to the construction specifications, creating “green” buildings that are models of efficiency and conservation.
CPS now has one of the nations' largest concentrations of school facilities built to sustainable design standards, which means using a resource in a manner that doesn't deplete or permanently damage it.
These green school buildings serve as learning opportunities for students, who are surrounded by shining examples of such kind-to-the-environment things as solar power, proper management of storm-water runoff, and recycling and waste reduction.
"As a former science teacher, I'm delighted about the opportunities that green schools provide as living classrooms," said Superintendent Mary Ronan. "Our students can learn about energy efficiency, conservation and alternatives to fossil fuels — issues that are attracting national attention."
"Going green will give the district lower operating costs and educational opportunities, while also adding to CPS’ value as a good neighbor."
Michael Burson, CPS' Director of Facilities, Planning and Construction during the Facilities Master Plan
CPS Buildings Earning LEED Certification
The move toward green buildings began as CPS entered the final phase of its Facilities Master Plan (FMP), a 10-year, $1-billion rebuilding program that ended in 2014. About two dozen buildings were built to LEED Silver, or higher, standards. This LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) creates buildings that make excellent use of daylight; have high indoor-air quality; and conserve energy and water for lower operating costs.
CPS Adopted Ten Initiatives for Sustainable Design
- Storm-Water Management — reducing impact of runoff with permeable surfaces, vegetative green roofs
- High-Performance Gyms — saving energy with heat-reducing roofs, ample daylight, ceiling fans
- Geothermal Energy — reducing energy costs using earth’s thermal properties
- Indoor Air Quality — reducing levels of environmental toxins such as mold
- Transportation — reducing the impact on the environment from district transportation
- Native Wood — recycling harvested timber from local parks for such things as case work, cabinetry
- Renewable Energy — using wind and solar power to generate electrical power
- Water Efficiency — reducing water usage, including reusing storm water
- Daylight — saving energy demand with more natural light and fewer light fixtures
- Zero-Waste Schools — maximizing reduction and reuse of waste, and recycling and composting
CPS sought LEED Silver certification, the second of four levels and the level that the Ohio School Facilities Commission agreed to help fund, for about two dozen buildings — far more than most districts, said Ron Kull, CPS’ Project Manager for the $1-billion Facilities Master Plan. The new building for Pleasant Ridge Montessori School, which opened August 2008, was CPS’ first LEED Silver-certificated school and was the first public school in Ohio to seek it.
Districtwide Dedication to Being Environmentally Friendly
The Board of Education passed a resolution on September 10, 2007, embracing green design and LEED certification. Read Resolution
Other examples of how the Cincinnati Public School District is creating environmentally friendly schools include creating furniture, flooring and shelving from trees cut down in Cincinnati parks and neighborhoods, as part of a partnership with the Cincinnati Park Board and the Hamilton County Solid Waste District.
Duke Energy donated solar cells that convert solar energy into electricity at Pleasant Ridge Montessori — the first of three Ohio schools to receive the cells in 2008. Together with energy-efficient lighting from GE, Midway School installed lightweight ceiling fans made of nine five-foot-long aluminum fan blades, to help make its high-ceiling gymnasium and cafeteria more energy efficient than when the building opened in August 2005.
All certified schools will display LEED plaques, a nationally recognized symbol that the building is environmentally responsible and a healthy place to spend time.
Lessons on sustainable design will be explained in signage around these green buildings and, where possible, taught as part of classroom curriculum. A district committee is finding and creating resources about green construction and sustainable design that align with Ohio’s content standards in science and math. For example, the committee looked into lesson plans developed by the Ohio River Foundation and the Hamilton County Storm Water District to see how the lessons aligned with state standards.
Green Schools Update (5/11)