My closest connection to school is my consulting job with the Los Angeles Community College District where they are greening the entire nice campuses. Part of that action includes building several Child Development Centers which will also include day care for the children of students. It will set the bar for other facilities and it couldn't happen too soon.
This month one of the moms reported receiving this email from her day care center.
“In a construction project elsewhere in the building, a contractor applied a concrete floor sealant that produced and odor and fumes that were so strong we had to evacuate the children from the building.”
Rightly so, she was concerned. She kept her child home an extra day and wrote the group wanting to know how to "detox kids". She was only half kidding, but a high-level discussion followed; how to monitor the air, what levels of VOCs are ok, which paints are better... this isn't a green lite crowd, we are serious about the conditions that kids live in.
All of the above discussions won't happen among the parents with kids at the LACCD facilities, however, because the buildings are being constructed or rehabbed with sustainable and safe products within the building guidelines. As such, the LACCD is setting a new standard for other schools to follow. If they can do it in LA, it can be done anywhere.
In the LACCD's Guidelines and Standard (page 95)for new buildings, the LACCD states upfront what items get red-lined and not allowed in new construction.
- Chlorinated Polyethylene and Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene
- Cholorofourocarbons (CFCs)
- Chloroprene (Neoprene) with the exception of MEP Equipment
- Formaldehyde (added)
- Halogenated Flame Retardents
- Hydrocholorfluorocarbons (HCFCs)
- Petrochemical Fertilizers and Pesticides
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) with the exception of roofing and piping
- Wood treatments containing Creosote, Arsenic or Pentachlorophenol
- Endangered Wood Species
If you've been following the Green Mom conversations, you'll know that Phthalates, PVCs, Flame Retardants, Formaldehyde - well - the whole list gets us going. How nice that someone is finally taking action.
The LACCD also requires that adhesives and sealants meet GreenSeal and government standards. That covers the VOC fume problem mentioned above. No VOC's no fumes. The best part of these buildings is that they become experiential learning labs for how to make a home or an office sustainable and toxic-free from the start.
The Project Track program "provides free services to students enrolled in child development programs, employees working as child-care providers, and parents with children younger than five years of age."
The LACCD is developing a sustainable benchmark for all campuses to follow - build green, teach green, learn green, live green and bring the next generation along in your footsteps.