School Sustainability Roundup

The school system employs many sustainable practices that create healthy learning environments, engage staff and students in developing environmental literacy, and strengthen its overall operations. Here’s a quick roundup of the many ways HCPSS supports well-being by providing safe and sustainable educational spaces.

Collaborating on Healthy Air Quality

This school year, all Howard County public schools have begun following new Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) protocols, in accordance with recommendations from the school system’s IEQ Committee. Information and resources are available on the new HCPSS Indoor Environmental Quality web page and on each school’s website, where users can report and track concerns and find documentation on existing environmental assessments. The system prioritizes working with staff and community members to maintain healthy school buildings for everyone who uses them.

This summer, Skelly and Loy, an engineering and environmental consulting firm hired by the county, reported that the mold spore levels identified in all 12 schools assessed for air quality are typical for U.S. public schools in similar geographic regions, and the types and concentrations of airborne mold spores do not normally pose a health risk. The firm stated that the school system and school maintenance staff are “doing a good job of controlling indoor moisture and mold growth, resulting in the protection of health of students and staff.”

National Leadership in Green Cleaning

This summer, HCPSS hosted the national Green Clean Schools Leadership Institute, which explores leadership best practices for growing green cleaning programs in K–12 schools, colleges and universities. On the final day of the conference, participants toured two Howard County public schools to learn about the system’s award-winning green cleaning practices.

A Gold Status for a Green Building

The Atholton High School renovation was recognized this year with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “Gold” designation. Atholton was completely modernized, with more than 52,000 square feet of new construction, while maintaining the nostalgic architecture of the building. Highlights of the renovation include new mechanical, electrical, IT, heating and cooling systems, as well as improved program spaces for Academic Life Skills and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Howard County is the only school system in the state that aims for all new school construction and complete renovations to be LEED certified or better.