The ABC’s to Healthy & Safer School Buildings
Act 125 was passed into law by the 2000 Vermont General Assembly with the goal to improve school indoor air quality, reduce hazardous exposures, and help schools earn the Certificate of Achievement for Environmental Health in Schools.
Act 125 is one of a kind in the nation, setting standards that:
- address the issues of air quality and other environmental factors that may affect health of children, staff and teachers in our schools
- recognize the importance of sustaining a healthy school environment through adoption of a model environmental health management plan & policy.
Public Information Clearinghouse
Act 125 was based, in part, on the fact that, while “information on least-toxic and nontoxic materials, non-chemical pest control methods and appropriate maintenance practices and standards is widely available through governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations and professional societies,” it was “not readily accessible through a single information source.”
As a result of Act 125 the Departments of Health, Education, and Buildings and General Services worked together to create this website to serve as an information clearinghouse for schools to find:
- help to identify potential sources of environmental pollution
- recommendations for operating facilities to creates healthy indoor air
- a model plan and policy to adapt to your school situation
- links to resources including Best Practices
The Envision Program will give schools the tools, training, technical assistance, and referrals to earn the annual Certificate of Achievement while improving their school environment. The ENVISION program legislation intended that:
- the Department of Health, “in consultation with other state agencies, will compile and make available to all Vermont schools, information about materials and practices commonly used in school operation and construction that may compromise indoor air quality or negatively impact human health.”
- schools will receive resources, workshops referrals and technical assistance.
- the Department of Health will assist schools “to develop programs that will enable them to identify and eliminate potentially hazardous materials, isolate those hazardous materials that cannot be eliminated, and adequately ventilate school buildings to exhaust any pollutants and contaminants.”
Assistance is also offered to schools, including links to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools, which we recommend as a model for Vermont schools. The model uses no cost or low cost solutions to indoor air quality problems.
Act 125 Advisory Panel
The Legislature identified organizations who would serve as members of an Act 125 Advisory Panel. The Panel charge was to advise the Department of Health about implementation of a model plan and policy, identifying barriers, and discussing options for schools to use the best practices.
Act 125 Advisory Panel Members
- American Lung Association of Vermont
- ATC Associates Inc.
- Burlington Public Schools
- High Performance School Inititative
- University of Vermont School IPM Program
- Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
- Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services
- Vermont Department of Education
- Vermont Department of Health
- Vermont Principals Association
- Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG)
- Vermont School Board Association
Teachers and students can get involved with school environmental health management planning. The Association of Vermont Recyclers offers teachers resourde guides for recycling education in the classroom.
Students can also check out an interactive learning tool, ToxTown, to find out more about health issues and the environment. (make sure to download the Flash Player plug-in, available on the Toxtown site, to view the interactive town).