A new breed of schools

| November 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

Throughout 2012, we’ve made the point in this column that green teaching and learning must happen on eco-friendly campuses.

The point is being taken up by governments around the world. In the US, for example, as many public school buildings deteriorate, district officials are looking at retrofits that save energy and improve learning conditions. Forty-eight billion dollars given to the Department of Education will include such operations, and new building codes will also force school boards to create greener schools.

In the future, individual classrooms in American schools will have to incorporate independent climate controls and the ability to circulate natural air and light efficiently. Overall, schools must be built so as to manage noise pollution both on and off campus, and must be created from materials that are easy to clean without the use of dangerous chemicals, which further compromise air quality. At the same time, contact surfaces must be designed so as to prevent the transmission of infectious disease, said architects and planners interviewed by The Green Market Oracle.com.

In September 2011, US secretary of education Arne Duncan announced the ‘Green Ribbon’ school award programme to identify and praise schools for reducing their environmental impact, building a healthy environment for staff and students, and using an education component that supports those goals. In April 2012, 78 schools were the first to be awarded the prestigious ‘Green Ribbon’ title. The list of winners included 66 public schools and 12 private schools, composed of 43 elementary, 31 middle and 26 high schools, with around 50% representing high-poverty schools.

Additionally, at more than 30 college campuses, students have joined Sierra Club – the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organisation – to strengthen its ‘Beyond Coal’ campaign. Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Virginia, for example, is powered by a coal plant that burns more than 43 000 tons of coal each year, and students often wake to find ash coating their windows. Students across the US are asking their schools to clean up their act and to move to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources.

Category: Summer 2012

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