More than a decade ago, Virginia Beach Public Schools built the district’s first LEED certified building. This designation is given by the U.S. Green Building Council to buildings that save money and resources, while promoting renewable energy and efficiency.


Since that first building, the school district has completed another seven LEED-certified projects. The district has also instituted eco-friendly cleaning, geothermal heating and cooling systems, and more efficient lighting in all their buildings.

The schools are close to the coast, and flooding is a concern. So the district has installed green roofs and underground storage tanks to capture and slow rainfall. Some of the water is used to flush toilets, wash buses and water the sports fields. What’s left is allowed to seep slowly into the ground.

According to Tim Cole, District Sustainability Officer, these changes do more than save water and energy.

The green buildings are also an educational opportunity. Staff members demonstrate and teach students how things like permeable pavement and stormwater tanks work.

COLE: “You hear about the building as a teaching tool all the time, but really a good building leads by example. It shows the students as well as the local community what’s possible.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

More Resources
Marketing the Green School: Form, Function, and the Future
(Chapter 5: Enhancing Building Performance and Environmental Learning: A Case Study of Virginia Beach City Public Schools)

Topics: Energy