Top 5 Reasons to Build an L.E.E.D. Certified High School

By Rob Papke, Mt. Lebanon Council PTA Environmental Chair

  1. A "Green" School = Healthy Students. The American Lung Association has found that American school children miss more than 14 million school days a year because of asthma exacerbated by poor indoor air quality. It costs nearly three times more to provide health care for a child with asthma than a child without asthma. In 2006 dollars this amounts equals $1,650 per child-costs borne not by the schools but by the students but by the student's family. A recent Carnegie Mellon review of five separate studies found an average reduction of 38.5% in asthma in buildings with improved air quality.*
  2. Mt. Lebanon as a Visionary Leader. Even though Pittsburgh is
    ranked #4
    in the country for the number of L.E.E.D. certified buildings located here, there are no L.E.E.D. certified schools in South-Western PA. Just as the Fine Arts Building and our astro-turf field set the standard many years ago, a L.E.E.D. certified building will give Mt. Lebanon something that no other school district has had the vision to build.
  3. State Reimbursement Incentives. The state offers reimbursement incentives to help defray the extra costs associated with L.E.E.D. certification.
  4. The extra costs are much lower than one would assume. According to the Green Building Alliance, green school construction costs less than 2 percent more than a conventional school, about $3 per square foot.
  5. ...And the #1 reason to construct an L.E.E.D. certified High School is? the drum roll please?

  6. There would be substantial savings to the taxpayers. On an average, green schools use 33 percent less energy than conventional schools. Lower energy and water costs, improved teacher retention and lower health costs directly save green schools about $12 per square foot, four times the additional cost of going green.*

If any one of these reasons is important to you, please email our school board members. More than ever, we need to let our school board members know that L.E.E.D. Certification is an important component to the up coming High School construction project. Thank you.

* For further information on Green School Design, check out Gregory Kats' article Green School Design: Cost-Effective, Healthy and Better for Education. More information on green building in general can be found at the Western Pennsylvania Green Building Alliance.


Fen had sent an email to the

Fen had sent an email to the Board last week. I responded to him about the possibility of employing a Public Private Partnership to accomplish his goal. There have been many examples of successful PPPs with School Districts and we are fortunate to have someone from the Niagra Falls School District down in our area tomorrow night (Tuesday) to talk about how they built an $85 million school without increasing taxes.

While I have reached out to the Niagra Falls School District for more information, what I know today is based on this recent article from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

If family committments allow, I will be at this meeting.

Many people know that I have floated the idea of a Public Private Partnership in relation to the high school project. It is my personal opinion that no matter what option is chosen for the project, the District needs to make sure it turns over every rock to find ways to lessen the tax impact on the residents of Mt Lebanon as much as possible.

Over the course of the last year I have had numerous meetings with companies and organizations that deal with PPPs and it is my sincere hope that I can bring some of these people to Mt Lebanon to talk about ways that they can benefit both the school district and the municipality.

I hope to have more information in the coming months.

When the 7 MtL Elementary

When the 7 MtL Elementary Schools were renovated, beginning in 2003, some Green technology was incorporated into their design: digitally controlled thermostats, UV glass/windows, sensors on hand facets, low flow toilets & light sensors in the classrooms. However, these are pretty much standard procedure for most construction projects today.
To move forward MtL now needs to take the next step and go LEED w/the HS building project. There is a segment of our taxpayers that are uniformed w/regards to Green technology. Also, our commissioners have virtually no say in what the district does.
The School Board needs to hear from us (either via email or at the school board meetings). Please talk w/your neighbors and friends, we need to flood them with our interest. Make your voices heard.

Fen, Great idea. I mentioned


Great idea. I mentioned retrofitting the existing schools in Mt Lebo with solar panels and energy saving devices to one of the Mt Lebo commissioner. They said that they believed that the schools were recently updated and that unfortunately they had failed to include any green design in the upgrades. I think a big problem with our idea is the taxpayers, especially taxpayers here in Western PA, who don't want to pay more for LEED or green design even though in the long run it will save them money in the form of lower energy costs and a cleaner environment. Check out my blog "Green is Good" and let's discuss some ideas for a greener Mt Lebanon.


Fen, unfortunately I will not

Fen, unfortunately I will not be able to attend tonight. Please let me know if you want to get together and talk about what they say at the meeting. Hopefully it will show some promise.


Cool! This post has been

Cool! This post has been linked to from Blog-Lebo, Mike Madison's top-shelf blog of all things Mt. Lebanon.

Thanks, Mike!

My letter to the school board

My letter to the school board follows:

Hello -

My family and I recently moved to Mt Lebanon from San Francisco, California for three primary reasons: great public schools, affordable (certainly compared to California!) real estate, and proximity to a city with major colleges and culture. During our almost two years of research to determine where in the country was the best place to move - summed up on my blog - the fact that Pittsburgh was leading the country in the number of L.E.E.D. certified buildings also played a key role in making our decision.

While I strongly urge L.E.E.D. certification for our new high school - as I think it will provide a great boost to Mt Lebanon as a visionary leader - I find it imperative that we build a green school, primarily for health reasons. I suffer from mild asthma and I would like my son to escape my fate. Green schools have cleaner air, and many studies have shown that poor air quality leads to greater occurrences of asthma. And of course, green buildings use less energy for heating and cooling, and thus are better for the environment (and the taxpayer!).

In these times of environmental crisis, I would love to see my son in a L.E.E.D. certified high school learning how to take better care of the earth. What an incredible lesson for our children!

Thank you,
Fen Labalme

Side note: Philadelphia

Side note: Philadelphia Proposes Record-Breaking New Green Skyscraper:

the designers are planning on making the Philly landmark a green building, even hoping to earn an impressive gold certification (same as the Hearst Tower in NYC) from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program. That means a high degree of energy and water efficiency, which should save millions of dollars in operating expenses over the years, as well as result in a much reduced ecological footprint.