(Chantal Lovell of NPRI) – Las Vegas — The push to build “green” schools is growing in Nevada, but a new study raises questions about the payoff of meeting these costly construction standards.
The analysis — written by Todd Myers, a Wall Street Journal expert panelist and the environmental director at the Washington Policy Center — compares the construction and energy costs of schools in Clark and Washoe counties and finds that facilities built to “green” standards produce only nominal electricity savings and, in some cases, use more energy than schools not built to these costly standards.
When compared to non-green schools, Depoali Middle School — Washoe County’s one middle school built to green standards — performed well, but was not the most energy efficient. Another school, Cold Springs Middle School, took the spot for most energy efficient middle school in the district despite not having been built to green standards; Shaw Middle School, also a non-green school, tied Depoali for the second-most efficient middle school in the district.
Myers estimates it will take 40-100 years worth of energy savings to pay for the added construction costs of the green Depoali.
The four green elementary schools in the Clark County School District are more efficient than non-green schools built around the same time, but it could be decades before the district sees a payoff for its investment as well.
NPRI Deputy Communications Director Chantal Lovell issued the following comments about the study:
With Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Legislature just authorizing ten additional years of bonding without voter approval, it’s important that school district officials not waste taxpayer dollars on ‘green’ schools that fail to produce return on investment.
To spend millions on construction elements that may satisfy the demands of environmental activists but may never pay for themselves in energy savings would be a waste and undercut the school district’s stated priority of building new schools.
Schools built to green/LEED standards can cost anywhere from 1 to 3 percent more to construct, but take decades before the added construction elements pay for themselves. Before any school is built to ‘green’ standards, officials should ensure the added expense actually saves money, instead of limiting the number of schools that can be built.
The study does not consider the additional maintenance costs that energy-saving elements typically incur over the years, meaning the financial benefit of green buildings is even less.
To speak with the study’s author, please contact Chantal Lovell, whose information is listed above.
The full analysis can be read here: http://www.npri.org/docLib/
NPRI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that produces and shares ideas and information that empowers people. For more information, please visit www.NPRI.org.