WASHINGTON, D.C.—In September, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) kicked off its "Fifty for Fifty" initiative working with state lawmakers in all 50 states to promote green school buildings. The Council’s goal is for every state legislature in the nation to have its own caucus or working group of lawmakers advancing green schools for kids. Inspired by the successes of the Congressional Green Schools Caucus, the initiative will build on widespread participation in USGBC’s LEED for schools program, which has more than 1,000 green schools registered across the United States.

"For students and families across the country, more green schools ultimately mean more effective educational facilities, significant operating costs savings, a better environment, and healthier communities," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO, and founding chair, USGBC. "The caucuses will add the significant weight of their voices to this critically important effort. If we’re successful at creating green schools for every child, no matter his or her economic bracket, we’ll raise a generation of smart, healthier, inspired kids."

"I can think of no more important matter of public policy than helping our school children learn and thrive. That’s exactly what we will do with the green schools initiatives in our states because children spend the major portion of their day in school," said the Illinois State Representative Karen May.

As the school year begins, nearly 1,000 school buildings—from Tacoma, Wash., to Tallahassee, Fla.,—will have met or are seeking LEED green school certification, with applications growing at a rate of more than one per day. The total LEED-certified and registered school space was expected to exceed 100 million square feet as the school year got underway, according to figures released by USGBC.