Green schools foster new learning in math, science, reading, nutrition and gym
At least 14 million American children attend schools where the district has green building policies, including those with LEED-certified campus structures. That number is projected to be 62 million by 2040. My four-part article on how that informs the teaching of key subjects such as math, science, language and health offers plenty of reason to envy the young– they may be inheriting a challenged environment, but they are also developing the skills and sensibilities to do something about it.
Published in Green Building & Design magazine, the article also touches on school district economics. Surprisingly, three of the four schools profiled are in lower-income and even rural districts. All are public schools, and with each the vision of teachers, administrators, architects and one dedicated librarian were key components to their successful programs. Special credit to the following:
VMDO Architects (Virginia) – Retrofitting an existing building to LEED Gold certification, the cafeteria is designed to educate students while feeding them vegetables, fruits and nuts grown from the student-tended campus gardens. From there, educators devised ways to incorporate green themes into nutrition, math, science and reading curricula. Importantly, researchers from the universities of Virginia and Nebraska are tracking what results.
High Springs Community School (Florida) – Providing evidence that words can change the world, librarian Judith Weaver drew students in this north-central Florida school into understanding the precious nature of fresh water at home and around the world. They tightened up water use on the school campus and turned water-carrying of 17-pound jugs (necessary in desertified regions such as Sudan) into a gym exercise.
SfL+a Architects (North Carolina) – Defying the notion that sustainability is the luxury of wealthier school districts, this firm and its development arm privately built their LEED Platinum (pending) middle school in rural Lumber Bridge with sufficient solar and geothermal energy capture to enable the school district to assume ownership after a five-year lease period. Meanwhile, students monitor energy consumption as part of their math and science education. The excess energy generation and creative lease-to-own configuration means no voter referenda nor tax increases were necessary to build this remarkable school.
Inglemoor High School (Washington) – Teacher Mike Wierusz draws students into sustainable engineering and design who aren't "just math and science kids." Instead, they are interested in how to build a more eco-conscious world – which they do through self-identified projects, tours of the nearby Bullitt Center, and looking at their own inefficient school building for ways in which it could be improved.