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Articles: Sustainability

Mold may raise images of sick students and rotting buildings, but in reality, it’s an easy—and most times inexpensive—problem to solve if dealt with quickly and effectively.

An $84 million renovation that includes a pedestrian walkway and greater security at Fayetteville High School in Arkansas was the only public school to receive prestigious architecture this year.

A 2014 study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory examined five districts using propane in their bus fleets, and some saved nearly 50 percent on a cost-per-mile basis for fuel and maintenance. (Photo: Gettyimages.com/Leekris)

Transitioning to eco-friendly propane school buses may help districts save money and safeguard student health. A propane bus costs about $15,000 more than a diesel vehicle, but is less expensive to operate and maintain.

Community helped design Hampton Bays Middle School, which opened in 2008, on Long Island in New York. The LEED-certified building can be used for town hall meetings and adult learning classes, and offers a community garden.

Students and administrators of Clark County School District in Nevada launched construction on six new elementary schools, part of a 10-year, $4.1 billion construction campaign.

Growing evidence shows that well-maintained and updated school facilities promote learning, as well as student and staff health, and help curb long-term school expenses.

Macroinvertebrates in cities: Howard County high school students, above, study area streams to check for potential pollution that might harm nearby Chesapeake Bay.

Using a survey tool, biology students in 13 Maryland high schools  help environmental scientists keep an eye on pollution and other factors that might harm Chesapeake Bay or its creatures, including Maryland’s renowned blue crabs.

Miami-Dade County’s BioTECH @ Richmond Heights—a conservation-biology-focused STEM high school that opened in 2014-15 with help from an $11 million federal grant—focuses on zoology, botany, genetics, ecology, chemistry and environmental sciences.

Students will likely choose healthier meals if provided with more comfortable places to eat. Modern lighting and food-court style designs can draw students to dining areas while school gardens can provide learning experiences and also supply cafeterias with fresh, less expensive produce.

Columbia Schools shifted from 33 chemicals to 10 green products to clean their district schools. Here’s what they used to use, and what they’ve adopted today.

A growing number of states require or encourage school districts to adopt green products.

The health risk posed by products with potential carcinogens that pushed Columbia Public Schools in Missouri to adopt simpler, more cost-effective—and ultimately greener—methods. Yet, most district leaders say removing all chemicals is nearly impossible.

At Bee Cave Elementary School, students gather around the teacher for story time in one small space, allowing the school to save energy and money in areas of the room that don’t need lighting.

Lighting is often the overlooked energy hog in the room—accounting for 26 percent of the energy used in a typical school. Retrofitting lighting can reduce that by as much as 50 percent, and it's is often simpler and less expensive than upgrading HVAC systems, producing a quick return on investment.

Learning to grow vegetables and flowers. Digging in the dirt. Understanding how seasons affect plants. Such learning experiences for students come with a green school roof.

Promoting green school roofs is part of New York City’s larger mission to combat air pollution, conserve energy and reduce the amount of stormwater flowing into sewers and waterways.

Green roofs also reduce the need for air conditioning, thus lessening the “urban heat island” effect—a phenomenon in which concentrated human activity and energy use make metropolitan areas hotter.

As part of a bigger plan to streamline operations and cut costs districtwide, Tecumseh Public Schools hired Mike Smith as director of facilities to establish a maintenance and facilities plan in 2014. There had been minimal preventive maintenance and facilities processes in place before that for the district of 2,500 students in southeast Michigan.

Oxford High School, in Oxford, Mississippi, is a small-town school with big expectations. In 2011, when the district needed to accommodate growth in its student population, administrators partnered with Johnson Controls. Three years later, they opened a high-tech, energy-efficient, state-of-the-art, secure school to more than 1,000 students.

School gardens used for instruction are on the rise nationwide, and with them, student engagement and test scores, according to a recent study.

The nonprofit REAL School Gardens works with corporations to build outdoor classrooms at low-income schools. The gardens include 150 square feet of vegetable beds, perennial and herb beds, rainwater collection systems, composting bins, earth science stations, and animal habitats.

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