Speeches By EPA Administrator
Administrator Johnson, 6th Annual Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools National Symposium, Washington, D.C.01/13/2006
I want to thank you for your dedication to our nation’s children, as well as your commitment to do even more.
Two years ago, I had the privilege of participating in this annual Symposium by presenting the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Excellence Awards.
Today, I want to personally congratulate this year’s award winners for their achievements.
I was especially pleased to learn of the students who have been leaders in improving the indoor air quality in their own schools. It gives us hope for our future when we see young people like you accomplishing such great things. This truly speaks to the theme of the Symposium, “Our Schools, Our Kids, Our Future.”
As you know, poor indoor air quality is one of our nation’s environmental health challenges – and children are among the most vulnerable.
Since students spend such a large portion of their time in the classroom, over the past decade EPA has been working with people like you to better their school environment.
Together, we are providing a clean, healthy learning environment for the leaders of tomorrow.
Through our efforts, nearly 30,000 schools are taking action through programs like Tools for Schools to prevent or reduce exposure to chemicals, irritants, allergens … and even carcinogens like radon.
While there’s still more work to be done, the progress we’ve made is because of people like you and other enlightened leaders in your school communities.
Let me highlight some of the new ways schools are addressing environmental challenges to help achieve their mission of educating the leaders of tomorrow.
One movement is the trend toward building green, high-performance school buildings. These schools save energy, natural resources and money – while providing a healthy and productive learning environment.
Another is our Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign, where over the next few months, EPA will help schools identify and clean out old, outdated, and hazardous stocks of chemicals. Together, through this and other great state and local programs, we have already helped remove tons of old chemicals from our nation’s schools.
Many of you have worked with EPA’s other voluntary programs like Clean School Bus USA, ENERGY STAR and Sunwise. A few years ago, we inaugurated a new Healthy School Environments Web site to consolidate these programs in one place. This site, epa.gov/schools, makes it easier to find information about school environmental issues.
And today, I’m happy to announce the addition of a brand new software tool to EPA’s Healthy School Environments Web site. Designed specifically to help school systems integrate and manage all of their environmental, health, and safety programs and issues, we call this new software the Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool – or HealthySEAT for short.
Simply put, HealthySEAT helps educate school leaders on how to identify and work to prevent environmental problems before they occur. It also tracks the status of facility conditions – and needed improvements – school by school.
This new tool can be downloaded from our Healthy School Web site, customized to reflect state and local requirements and priorities, and used to conduct completely voluntary periodic self-assessments of your school facilities.
HealthySEAT includes a checklist that incorporates the major elements of every EPA regulatory and voluntary program for schools.
In addition, HealthySEAT includes information on a range of other health and safety issues, such as crisis planning information from the Department of Education, playground safety recommendations from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Safe Routes to Schools from the Department of Transportation, the CDC School Health Index, and recommendations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on school safety issues.
EPA staff worked closely with many school districts at both the concept stage and throughout the development of HealthySEAT to make sure that it serves your needs. And I know that several of the school districts that helped field test the software are here with us today as Tools for Schools award winners. I thank all of you for your help.
In elementary school, all of us learned that when we work alone, we can only accomplish so much. But in order to tackle those tough challenges, real success can only come through teamwork, sharing and cooperation.
The development of HealthySEAT and the success of Tools for Schools would not be possible without the help and dedication of many outside school based organizations who have partnered with EPA.
I would like to thank EPA’s school and community partners. Together, through our teamwork, we are providing a clean, healthy learning environment for the leaders of tomorrow.
One such organization is the Council for Educational Facility Planners International, or CEFPI … an advocate for creating healthy learning environments and promoting Smart Growth principles in collaboration with EPA.
In a moment I’m going to turn this over to the CEFPI President. But before I do, let me say again how much I truly admire your commitment. I hope you leave here with renewed energy and new resources for continuing the great work you are doing for our nation’s children.
Now, it is my pleasure to introduce Hugh Skinner, President of CEFPI. He has traveled to Washington, DC all the way from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Please join me in welcoming him.