School Sustainability Ideas and Resources
A school seeking to become sustainable starts by understanding that it is a part of a whole interconnected system. It models future where current needs are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. A sustainable school not only shows what we can do now to be better stewards, but sets the stage for even greater opportunities. A sustainable school recognizes that its campus can be a living laboratory, engaging the vibrant minds of our students in ideas and activities that can lead them to finding the solutions to the complex environmental issues we face.
For the purposes of this program, school sustainability is designated as the physical elements that we must steward to provide for ourselves and to conserve for the future. People are the primary drivers of that stewardship, so how we treat one another is an important component as is our ability to lead meaningful and productive lives.
Energy conservation behaviors related specifically to electricity use are relatively easy practices to implement and have an enormous impact on the environment.
- Administration reviews school energy practices to determine areas for energy conservation.
- Energy conservation goals are set at a school level.
- Energy management is an integral part of the school’s planning policies.
- School energy use and associated costs savings are bench marked, analyzed, and documented presented to school community on a regular basis.
Carla Ramsdell’s Renewable Energy Workshop Powerpoints from 7/18/16 Learning Event:
Conserving water in everyday actions can have a huge impact on the campus footprint and help preserve NC’s precious resource.
- Students and faculty regularly monitor and report leaking faucets in the school.
- Students and staff launch a water conservation campaign.
- Signs, posters and PSA’s are created to help remind the school community about water conservation.
- Rain Barrels are employed to capture and reuse water for school gardens.
- Students help lead a community effort to conserve water.
- Students work with local partners to host a community Water Awareness Event.
- Students and the school community build a rainwater catchment system employing bioswales, rain gardens and other natural elements to catch, clean and filter rainwater.
Curriculum and Classroom
Recycling, reusing and reducing the materials used in schools is typically the initial practice that engages students and staff to develop conservation habits that last a lifetime.
- Posters, coloring books and other materials are used in classrooms to educate about reusing, reducing and recycling.
- Waste reduction videos as played in classes or assemblies.
- Students help design projects using waste materials.
- The school starts a campaign to collect hard to recycle items like cell phones and batteries. Start a Terracycle Brigades program.
- Classrooms and students develop regular practices and policies to reduce waste.
- Every classroom and office has a paper recycling bin that is managed by the students themselves.
- Waste reduction goals are set, monitored and documented.
- Students and staff work collaboratively to implement creative and costs savings approaches to materials use and waste reduction.
- Students research reusable food trays and make a proposal to the school administration to show environmental impacts of options.
- Students develop a Waste Free Lunch program and Waste Free Lunch Weekday.
- ABC’s of School Recycling in NC – NCDENR Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service
- Hazardous Waste Self-Management Checklist– Center for Disease Control
- How does a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) work? (video by re3.org)
- RE3.org – NC Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance (NCDPPEA)
- Recycle More NC
- Recycle Guys
- Carolina Recycling Association
- Recycling posters and Artwork – Recycle More NC
- Recycling Toolkit – How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in Durham Public Schools
- Wake County FEED THE BIN School Recycling Program
- Story of Stuff – 20 minute video by Annie Leonard
- Facing the Future curriculum for Grades 9-12 (Free) – Story of Stuff creator Annie Leonard
Our choices for transportation can affect our Nation’s energy footprint and have an impact on our health and well-being, too.
- Create a No Idling Campaign and take the No Idling Pledge to reduce unnecessary fuel usage and air pollution at your School
- Literature, posters, flyers, newsletters and other educational materials promote walking, biking carpooling, and riding public transit to school,
- Green transportation related contests, events and field trips are held at the school
- The School encourages presentations about transportation choices to be given at orientations, classrooms, staff meetings and PTA events,
- The Schools supports a ride-matching system to assist families and/or staff to help develop carpool, bike and walk-to school groups,
- Carpool lanes are install to incentivize multi modal transportation uses,
- Bike and walk safety programs, like the Walking School Bus, are incorporated at the school,
- The students wage a campaign to reduce individual vehicle miles and daily car counts at the school
- The School’s bikers and walkers have increase due to school campaigns.
- Alternative Fuel or Low Emission School Buses in North Carolina Study – NCDPI
- Biofuels 4 Schools video
- NC Clean Air Campaign – Catawba Center for the Environment
- NC Safe Routes to School – NC DOT
- NC School Bus Fuel Calculator – NCDPI
- Sustainable Transportation and Air Quality Curriculum – Green Education Foundation
- Walk to School in the USA – UNCHSRC