HISD’s Green Schools Initiative was honored Monday at the 29th Annual Mayor’s Proud Partners Luncheon for its commitment to building healthy and sustainable schools.
The school district received the J. Howard Rambin III Founder’s Award, which recognizes efforts to improve the city through projects that help beautify and transform Houston. “This is a celebration of people in the community doing great things,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who lauded the efforts of organizations, volunteers and corporations at the event, sponsored by Keep Houston Beautiful. The luncheon drew more than 400 community leaders and volunteers.
HISD’s Green Schools Initiative drew recognition for its ongoing efforts to construct new schools to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, which were developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to provide guidelines for sustainable buildings.
To date, HISD has more than two dozen schools that are either LEED certified or pending. Most of those facilities were built under the 2007 bond program. The district is hoping to greatly expand its LEED portfolio in the 2012 bond program, when it will build or renovate 40 schools, thanks to $1.89 billion in voter-approved funding.
“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the district,” said HISD Chief Operating Officer Leo Bobadilla. “Our goal is to create sustainable facilities that provide a healthy learning environment because we know these buildings make a big difference for our students.”
Studies show that schools with better indoor air quality, high-quality acoustics, temperature-control systems, and natural light help boost student achievement and attendance, he said. They also help save money, which means more money can be spent on education, rather than utility bills.
Also at Monday’s luncheon were seven students from HISD’s Woodrow Wilson Montessori School to help lead the audience in the pledge to the American and Texas flags. The students also attended to celebrate the recognition of their school’s new SPARK Park, which received a Proud Partner Award at the event.
The Wilson Wonderground SPARK Park features a new playing field, rubberized track and dry creek bed to provide a space for hands-on learning.