LEEDing by Example: Conference Keynote has Passion for Green, Healthy, and Sustainable Schools
Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and Founding Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is not a stranger to the ins and outs and daily challenges faced by schools. His wife, Cathy, a third grade teacher in the Syracuse, NY public schools system, has inspired in him a passion for green and healthy schools, as well as a desire to enrich students’ lives and empower teachers through sustainability education.
As head of USGBC, Rick has been deeply involved in the development and expansion of the LEED building certification program, and its application to the specific challenges of schools was one of Rick’s early goals. However, for green schools to take root, it was soon apparent that the rating system was just the starting point. Policy at the local, state, and national levels, as well as education and resource development for school districts and parents, were necessary initiatives. Thus, Rick established the Center for Green Schools at USGBC to expand the Council’s programmatic work into these areas.
From the beginning, the Center for Green Schools Executive Director, Rachel Gutter, saw an opportunity to go beyond operationally high performing buildings, and find ways to create facilities that are conducive to eco-learning. This has inspired efforts to embed environmental education into classroom curriculum so that the next generation of students are the kind of sustainability natives the future requires.
Rick believes in inspiring community involvement and that everyone—from students and teachers, to parents and whole communities—benefits when we insist on healthier, high-performing schools. This belief is exemplified through the work of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, which supports community engagement through programs such as the Green Apple Day of Service.
Rick is excited and honored to be part of the green schools movement and to participate in this year’s Green Schools Conference and Expo (GSCE). He sees the conference as an opportunity to convene people across the green schools movement to share their passion and ideas for equipping the next generation with the 21st century skills they need to address the challenges of the future. Rick’s clear vision for a more sustainable future will be an inspiring kick-off for our GSCE, and will set the stage for two full days of rich idea exchange and connections that will push our movement forward.