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Interface, Oberlin Make USGBC ‘Green Schools’ List

Carpet maker Interface and Oberlin College are among the schools, businesses and individuals recognized for their environmental initiatives by the US Green Building Council’s Best Green Schools 2012 list.

The list is a project of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. The center says green schools use 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than conventionally designed schools, and can save about $100,000 off operating costs annually.

Interface won the best business innovation spot on the list for its Learning from Nature brochure about biomimicry. The pamphlet details how nature-inspired technology and building design can result in more sustainable construction or renovation of educational facilities.

The brochure highlights Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology, among several other companies, and its Solar Ivy product (see image), inspired by photosynthesis and the growth patterns of ivy. The nontoxic, recyclable Solar Ivy photovoltaic modules can be installed on vertical spaces instead of being restricted to the traditional rooftop setting.

The brochure also lists Interface’s own TacTiles glue-free carpet tile installation system, inspired by the intermolecular force that allows geckos and other animals to adhere to surfaces.

Interface distributed the brochure via mail to more than 100,000 decision-makers across North America throughout the K-12 and Higher Ed environments, according to the Center for Green Schools. The carpet manufacturer also sent an e-blast about its microsite, with resources on nature-inspired concepts, to about 58,000 recipients.

The best four-year higher education institution is Ohio’s Oberlin College, according to the Center for Green Schools, which says Oberlin’s 2.27 MW PV array generates about 12 percent of the campus’ electricity and is the largest solar array of any private, four-year liberal arts college in the US. The college also has a green room certification program, a bike co-op, and five LEED-certified buildings, and incorporates sustainability into the classroom curriculum.

The Oberlin Project, a joint sustainability initiative between the college and the town of Oberlin, is one of 18 Clinton Foundation Climate Positive Development Program cities.

Other recipients include:

  • K-12 schools: Manzo Elementary in Tuscon, Ariz., and Bertschi Science Wing in Seattle, Wash.
  • Two-year higher education institution: Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan.
  • School district: Virginia Beach City Public Schools
  • Policy makers: Henry A. J. Ramos and US Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan
  • Moment for the movement: International Green Schools Movement
  • Ambassador: Frederick E. Harris, vice chancellor of college finance and facilities planning for California Community Colleges
  • Community-based event: Atlanta, Ga.’s Westminster Schools’ Public Purpose Fair
  • Collaboration: Connecticut Green Leaf Schools Program
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