As the world is beginning to head towards the 'new normal', there is a renewed emphasis on sustainability and care of our planet for future generations. Whilst this involves all industries, professions and private individuals, the arena for greatest change is through education in our schools.
It is from this that there is a growing realisation of a need to move away from rigid traditional standardised educational curriculums and instead incorporate ecological awareness within a purposely designed and constructed learning environment. So what exactly is a Green School?
A green school has to have 3 core elements; a reduction in environmental impact, promotion of health and wellbeing and an ecological curriculum. In addition, food needs to be healthy and the school has to promote sustainable community initiatives.
The school has to be constructed using sustainable materials, for example timber from certified forests and local materials from ecologically approved companies. All fixtures, fittings and furniture also need to be similarly sourced.. It will be a net zero carbon building achieved by renewable energy resources provided by solar photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and ground heat exchanger. All teaching resources and general supplies will be eco-friendly and re-cycling will be used throughout the community.
The importance of health and wellbeing is an essential part where students are not unnecessarily stressed through frequent formal testing, unrealistic expectations, targets, awards and excessive amounts of homework. The interior design of the building should allow direct connection and free-flow with the outdoor environment with lots of space, natural lighting and ventilation. Students benefit from yoga and mindfulness and where the eldest will be able to take 'time-out' in the yoga studio if they need during the day. Similar facilities should be available to the staff and parents whose health and wellbeing is of equal importance.
Environmental awareness should be naturally absorbed by the students during their daily use of the sustainable building and set within a natural landscape that will include micro wildlife habitats, vegetable organic plots and Forest school. All students need to learn about sustainability as part of their daily schedule, through projects and trips, green committees, enterprise and community initiatives whilst secondary aged students will continue to follow a recognised examination course of study including Environmental Management, Global Perspectives, Marine Science and Enterprise.
A daily, mainly plant based menu, using fresh organically grown fruit, vegetables, seeds and pulses with less reliance on meat, processed foods and artificial ingredients is available to students, staff and visitors.
The green school will lead local community projects for the benefit of the environment, to solve global environmental problems and to assist other schools and educational enterprises.
It is envisaged there will be an exponential growth in green schools around the world in the next few years that will promote custodianship of the planet for future generations.