Welcome to Green Campus Initiative - Working Together for a Sustainable Future
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It's not easy being green! - Kermit T. Frog   Home K-12 Schools 12 Steps toward Sustainability Planning And Design

Campus Planning and Design
In order to fully integrate all of the areas of sustainability in K-12 schools, a master plan is necessary. Oversight is essential. Make sustainability part of a school’s philosophy and vision. Design all new school projects with the goal of incorporating them into the school's sustainability program.


  Organizational Assistance   Best Practices  
  • Develop A School Master Plan
    In order to achieve sustainability on the large scale, all development at a school must be coordinated. Moreover, a school can much more effectively implement its sustainability goals if it develops an overall plan of action. In any future plans for school development make sustainability a top priority. Create short term (3-5 years) and long term (10 - 50 years) action plans which set specific targets and define strategies to meet those goals. Designate one or more individuals or departments to actualize sustainability at school. One possible strategy might be to create a department of sustainability for the school or district.
  • Preserve Green Space
    Wherever possible, maintain existing areas of school which are vegetated. Build on brownfields before developing on green spaces, such as grass or forest. Forests sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and support the local ecosystem. Fields and forests also diffuse solar radiation, unlike many roofs which tend to increase local temperatures, add to the heat island effect. Use fields and forests at school as recreational spaces and living laboratories.
  • Minimize School Driving
    As of 2004, 33% of all greenhouse gas emissions came from vehicles. Reducing use of fossil fueled vehicles may consequently lower a school’s environmental impact. The best way to minimize driving at school is to promote the use of other forms of transportation. Incorporate means of storing bicycles. While bike racks may be cheap and efficient, bike lockers are preferable because of added security. Maintain bike paths and greenways. Make walking at school safer by locating roads and parking facilities away from major walking routes. Emergency phone boxes along walkways and bike paths can also increase safety. Promoting carpooling for staff, and bus use for students will also decrease the individual cars that frequent school lots.
  • Maintain Indigenous Plant Life
    There are several advantages to the use of indigenous plant life. Local plants have evolved to local conditions. They do not require as much, if any, watering as non-native species. Invasive foliage can also decrease biodiversity in the local ecosystems as local vegetation may not be able to compete with non-native species. Changing habitats may also affect wildlife in the area. Using indigenous planting avoids these potential problems. For schools that already use a number of non-native species, restoration of the local ecology is a great learning opportunity both students and the community.
  • Preserve Solar Access
    Orient all new building to take advantage of the sun through photovoltaics, passive or active thermal systems, or daylighting. When constructing new buildings and planting trees at school, preserve necessary corridors of solar radiation to optimize the use of these systems. When using passive solar heating remember that deciduous trees block sunlight and heat in the summer and let solar radiation heat buildings in the winter. PV or heat collectors should ideally be exposed to the sun for as long as possible throughout the day. Make sure development does not significantly reduce the possible effectiveness of these systems by thoughtlessly building high on the horizon.
  • Perform Impact Review of All Expansion Plans
    In all future school development, create an environmental impact assessment of the planned project. Use simulation studies to determine the level of ecological damage caused by a project. Clean Air Cool Planet’s eCalculator can be used to establish a baseline level of air pollution impact and estimate the increase expected from future development. Utilize green building codes in design (LEED, CHPS, or ENERGY STAR) to reduce the impact of new projects. Plan ways to counterbalance potential impacts of buildings, roads, parking lots, and other infrastructure. For example, pervious parking lots can be designed with multiple layers of gravel, sand, and tar to filter any surface runoff before it enters ground water. When impact is unavoidable attempt to create offsets. For example, when school electrical use results in the production of greenhouse gases consider carbon sequestering and set aside land for carbon sinks in the form of green spaces, or consider programs such as Reforest the Tropics to establish carbon sinks in other areas of the world.

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