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It's not easy being green! - Kermit T. Frog   Home K-12 Schools 12 Steps toward Sustainability Grounds and Land Use


    Rain gardens are an excellent way to reduce water-reliant lawn areas while allowing rainwater to be reintroduced to the watershed.
    Photo courtesy epa.gov
 
Campus Grounds and Land Use

The management of campus grounds is an opportunity for sustainable development in K-12 schools. Schools can help to sustain the integrity of the local ecosystem through proper land management practices. A school can use the strategies listed below to reduce costs by decreasing the need for maintenance and irrigation of school grounds.

 

    This playground uses pieces of rubber instead of wood chips for lining This reduces waste by putting old tires to use, creates a softer, safer surface for children, and does not need to be restocked every few years as do wood chips.
    Image courtesy epa.gov
  Organizational Assistance   Best Practices  
  • Redefine School Beauty
    Traditional definitions of what makes a beautiful school need to be redefined in order to make way for a more sustainable lifestyle. Create a new culture of the school’s aesthetics. Water intensive plants and invasive species may be beautiful based on traditional conventions, but they are wasteful and have a high environmental impact. Preserve green spaces and existing native foliage where possible. When landscaping the school, plant species that are indigenous to the area. These species promote the integrity of the local ecosystem and require little or no watering as they are adapted to local climate conditions. Make forests, fields, and local plants the highest forms of school beauty.
  • Reduce Lawn Areas
    Maintaining green lawns can be very expensive both in material and manpower costs. They require mowing, watering, and at times, replanting. Lawn mowers unnecessarily put greenhouse gases and particulate matter into the air during the summer when air quality is at its worst. Also, lawns often require large quantities of water, a scarce resource in many areas. Where it is possible plant trees and gardens with indigenous species. These require less water and less maintenance. Forests and groves also act as more effective carbon sinks while requiring less care.
  • Protect Wetlands, Wildlife, and Watershed
    In order to create a more sustainable environment, your school must be designed to protect wetlands, wildlife and the watersheds. A school should not only avoid using agrochemicals, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, but ensure that buildings and walkways are responsibly constructed to protect watersheds.
  • Protect Trees
    Implement a tree protection ethic at your school. Make sure there are a sufficient number of trees on your school to beautify it, sequester carbon, and provide shade during hot summer days. Local fauna can add to the beauty of the schools as they can also use trees as homes.
  • Plant Native Species
    In gardens in and around K-12 buildings you should be sure to plant species native to the area. These species will require less chemical fertilizers and irrigation. Also, they do not interfere with the local ecosystem thus promoting and protecting biodiversity.
  • Allow Natural Walkways to Evolve
    Allowing natural walkways to evolve rather than paving sidewalks is a great way to save time and money. People will generally take the shortest path between two points rather than sticking to predetermined routes, especially if they have to go more than few feet out of their way to use an existing sidewalk. Elaborate decorative sidewalks may be beautiful, but if they are not overlaying the direct routes between locations, higher traffic may soon be seen on dirt paths trodden by walkers. Paving the paths after they are already laid out by foot will minimize wasted materials and labor.
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