If mayors from across the country have their way, every child in America will be attending a green school within a generation. In a move to better support the health and well-being of America's students, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), which represents more than 1,100 mayors, unanimously supported a green schools resolution last week at its 75th annual meeting in Los Angeles.

The resolution, introduced by Mayor T.M. Franklin Cownie of Des Moines and co-sponsored by 16 additional mayors, also urges Congress to provide funding of K-12 green school demonstration projects as well as support new research funding to better understand the environmental, economic and health benefits of green schools.

Citing the urgent need for healthier and more productive places of learning, the mayors issued the resolution on behalf of the 55 million students and 5 million faculty and staff who spend their days in school buildings.

"Studies show that children in green schools are healthier and more productive because of improved indoor air quality, lower levels of chemical emissions and a generous provision of natural day lighting," said Mayor Cownie. "The benefit of cleaner indoor air quality — a key emphasis of green schools — have been linked to lower asthma rates, fewer allergies, reduced absenteeism, and increased teacher retention rates."

In addition to significant health benefits, green schools cost less to operate and greatly reduce water and energy use, which generate significant financial savings.

"We're in urgent need of action on this issue, so it's great to see mayors take the lead," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). "Green schools are healthier for students and teachers, better for the environment, and cost less to operate and maintain. We owe it to our children — and ourselves — to make all our schools green."

All across the country, more and more schools are going green to save money, protect the environment, and help kids learn. To date, more than 30 schools have received LEED certification and nearly 300 more are on a waiting list for certification from the USGBC, which administers the nationally recognized LEED rating system for environmentally friendly buildings and recently released its LEED rating system specifically for schools.

Greening school design is an extraordinarily cost-effective way to enhance student learning, reduce health and operational costs, and ultimately increase school quality and competitiveness. In a recent study by Capital E, researchers found that a typical green school involves a modest two percent increase in cost, but would save $100,000 per year in energy costs alone — enough to hire two new teachers, buy 500 new computers, or purchase 5,000 new textbooks.