Solar Energy Star
This elementary school is located 60 miles east of Cincinnati in the Appalachian region of Ohio, North Adams continues to be a leader in environmental sustainability and to promote these practices among their staff, students, and community. The school building’s design includes many sustainable features including a geothermal HVAC system, daylight harvesting, and variable room lighting. In 2011, this school began using solar energy by adding over 1,250 solar panels to the building’s rooftop. As a result, North Adams Elementary produces 30 percent of its energy on-site with renewable sources. North Adams also recently received the LEED for Schools Silver rating, and its first ENERGY STAR label where the building scored a 97 on ENERGY STAR’s 100-point rating system. Lastly, the campus consists of 850,000 square feet of land, and the building only uses 11 percent of this space. Over 90 percent of the building’s interior offers views to the outside, where wild turkey and deer often can be seen grazing in nearby pastures. The schools grounds include an outdoor classroom and a GLOBE weather station that can help teachers discuss and teach climate and weather with their students.
Sunnyside Elementary School, Portland, OR
Environmentally focused indoors and out
Sunnyside Elementary School is a K-8 school in Portland that incorporates environmental education, place-based experiences, and service learning into its unique curriculum. This school’s environmental science curriculum encompasses both the classroom and the field, with local foods, green gardening, food-to-table curriculum, and sustainable practices, both individual and school-wide. The school grounds have been converted into a rich and thriving garden, which includes a perennial sensory garden, fruit trees, a pollinator garden, a grain garden, and a native plant garden. A three-person sustainability team manages the garden and curriculum, which stresses global citizenship and service, and each grade is responsible for tending a garden. Lastly, students learn sustainable practices as part of their daily curriculum, with the use and study of on-site solar panels, a water collection cistern and several rain barrels, a chicken coop, a robust recycling program, a lunchroom composting system with worm bins, and a garden composting system. The school’s lunchroom has also been converted to create less waste by only using reusable plates, cups, and utensils.
Willamina Elementary School, Willamina, OR
HealthierUS Schools Challenge honoree and Native American language immersion
This rural K-6 school, serving one-quarter Native American students, is host to a Chinook Language Immersion kindergarten program and places sustainability at the forefront of the school’s education curriculum. All grade levels have integrated environmental and social sustainability into their curricula through meaningful, real-world study and experiences, such as projects in which students must devise inventions using recycled materials. Willamina also excels at recycling; a team of student leaders leads the school in its conservation efforts by collecting all the recycled materials from each classroom and placing them in the proper containers in the pick-up area. In addition to sustainability, nutrition is studied in all grades in and out of the classroom. Willamina has established the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program, which offers fresh fruits and vegetables to students daily and focuses on a “harvest of the month” to educate students about new foods. This elementary school has made a commitment to students exercising, averaging about 270 hours a week of school-sponsored physical activity, much of it indoors. Due to its excellence in nutrition and physical activity, Willamina is a HealthierUS Schools Challenge winner.
Gladstone High School, Gladstone, OR
Gladstone High School has implemented an outstanding vision for connecting their students with sustainable environmental practices. Their students have led the way to the creation of a Green School Club and have initiated several changes like conducting energy audits, researching information about placing water bottle filling stations throughout the school, and the adoption of a no-idling policy. The Green School Club, by conducting energy audits, reduced the school’s power consumption and electrical costs by $250 per month. These club members also remodeled the school’s courtyard by using natural materials to build cob structures, a rainwater collection system, and a raised garden. The school itself also has undergone many changes in recent years that represent sustainable environmental practices. A 2006 bond funded a full remodel of this high school and incorporated the use of materials from recycled content. Despite adding 13 percent more square footage to the school, the school still was able to reduce overall electrical consumption by 9 percent and natural gas consumption by 3 percent. A 100-kilowatt photovoltaic system has assisted with mitigating the remaining electrical consumption. A Gladstone teacher took the lead on developing a sustainability curriculum that then became the model for the district. Courses include: Environmental Leadership, which focuses on decreasing the environmental footprint of the school and community through project based learning about sustainability. Ecology Projects is a project based course exploring several environmental sustainability topics. Renewable Energy is a course that teaches aspects of the various forms of renewable energy. Culinary Arts explores sustainable and local food and food service. The leadership class focuses on social sustainability through blood drives, children’s hospital fund raisers, canned food drives and more. Horticulture teaches students the fundamentals of planting and growing.
Drafting has students exploring energy efficiency in buildings. Computer Technology teaches students about the environmental and social side of electronics recycling and encourages volunteering at a non‐profit electronics organization. Environmental Science teaches about maintaining eco‐systems through native habitat restoration. Biology and Advanced Biology teach how resource management affects food chain sustainability.