208731 Evaluating the impact of green schools on the health of teachers and staff

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 9:15 AM

Barbara Berney, PhD, MPH , Urban Public Health, Hunter College, New York, NY
Darryl Alexander , American Federation of Teachers, Washington, DC
Paula Schenck, MPH , Center for Indoor Environments and Health, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
We are experiencing an unprecedented boom in school building construction, spending more than $20,282,987,000 in 2005-2006. Increased enrollments ensure that this boom will continue despite difficult financial times. Although funds designated for school construction and remodeling were removed from the economic stimulus package, State Fiscal Stabilization Fund moneys can be used for these purposes. The boom in building and renovation of schools provides an opportunity to have a positive impact on staff (and student) health while addressing education and health disparities by improving the air quality, lighting, temperature control and other environmental characteristics of public schools that affect 3.5 million public employees not covered by OSHA. Reports of occupational asthma identify significant risk to teachers and staff. It is imperative that definitions of green environments encompass building principles that support healthy indoor air quality. So far, they have focused on energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. School buildings need to be environments that support the health of faculty, staff and students and enhance their performance. The elements of green schools that affect health are not yet clearly identified and no systematic methods for evaluating them are used. A consensus around what characteristics to measure and how to measure them could focus research and improve the case for investing in safe and healthy schools.

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify specific characteristics of green schools likely to affect health and best methods for measuring them. 2) Identify health outcomes likely to be affected by green schools and best methods for measuring them 3) Develop model objectives for evaluating green schools and their health impact. 4) Identify resources that would guide evaluation- including building science and health risk.

Keywords: Occupational Health, Healthy Buildings

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I do research on green schools.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.