More Kinard CARES News...
Students at Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School in Fort Collins, Colo., also conduct greenhouse experiments, such as the one featuring plants in the classroom above.
—Nathan W. Armes for Education Week
Environmentally Friendly Schools Seen As Good For Bottom Line
Education Week Vol. 30, Issue 32, Page 10
May. 24, 2011
By: Katie Ash
“Green schools” are better for students, teachers, the environment—and the bottom line, a report released this month concludes.
Published by the American Institute of Architects and the U.S. Green Building Council, the report—which resulted from a three-day meeting at the Sundance Resort in Utah in November—details what mayors, superintendents, and other local leaders can do to advance the movement for environmentally friendly schools.
“This latest report grew out of our organizations’ goal to see green schools for all students within a generation,” said Brooks Rainwater, the director of local relations for the Washington-based AIA and a co-author of the report. “It’s happening, but it needs additional support and people getting on board to move it forward.”
The report defines a “green” school as “a building or facility that creates a healthy environment that is conducive to learning while saving energy, resources, and money.”
“The pathway to green schools in each of these communities is flexible,” said Jason Hartke, the vice president of public policy for the USGBC, in Washington, and the other co-author of the report.
'Green Schools' and the Bottom Line
After obtaining LEED certification last summer, Stoddert Elementary School in Washington, D.C., is finishing its first year as a newly renovated "green school."
Its recommendations, which target local leaders such as superintendents and mayors under which building jurisdiction falls, include becoming involved with the local green-schools movement; raising awareness about the benefits of green buildings by creating a task force or hosting a summit; tracking the energy use of existing schools; passing a green cleaning policy; and advancing “green” school construction bonds.
The green-schools movement has made much progress with new school construction, said Rachel Gutter, the director of the USGBC’s Center for Green Schools. “Eighty percent of the 20 largest school districts in the U.S. have committed to not building another school that isn’t green,” she said.
Perceptions on Cost
One common misconception about high-performing school buildings is that they are more expensive than the average school building to construct, said Ms. Gutter. But there are numerous examples of high-performing schools’ being built for the same or less money, she said, as well as the return on investment high-performing, energy-efficient buildings see with reduced energy costs.
In fact, a report titled “The Cost of Green Revisited,” published in 2007 by the Santa Monica, Calif.-based construction consultant company Davis Langdon, analyzed 221 buildings, 83 of which were built for sustainability, and found no significant difference in the average cost for green buildings than the other projects.
But that’s only part of the battle, said Ms. Gutter, who emphasized the importance of taking a green approach to existing school buildings as well.
A high-performing school is not just about the building, she said, but also about what kinds of cleaning products are used on campus, what plants are in the landscaping, how the school recycles its waste, what the students are learning in their classes, and what kinds of transportation are available, for example.
Chris Bergmann, a science teacher at Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School in Fort Collins, Colo., argues for green schools’ use as a learning tool, an idea being promoted by the Green Education Foundation and the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. Last week, those groups launched the Sustainability Education Clearinghouse, a free online tool that provides K-12 educators with the ability to share sustainability-oriented lesson ideas.
Mr. Bergmann runs and teaches a class called Kinard CARES (for Community Action Results Environment Service), in which students take a field trip to Catalina Island in California to learn about sustainability practices and to take the environmental practices they observe being used in nature and brainstorm how to apply them to their own community.
Throughout the year, the students work on improving their own school environment, which has led to the development of a compost system. The class also hopes to gain approval from administrators to build a garden and a greenhouse.
Kinard itself is a high-performing, Energy Star-certified school, built in 2006. It is powered by wind energy and makes use of natural lighting to minimize the use of lights. Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to help promote energy efficiency.
Mr. Bergmann said he also partners with local businesses and organizations to bring in guest speakers to talk about the role of conservation and energy management in a variety of careers.
Sarah Thwaites is an 8th grader in Kinard CARES. “I wanted to get more involved in the school,” she said, “and I was looking for some way to be a better leader.”
However, financial constraints and school policy can throw up challenging barriers for school leaders hoping to move forward, said Mr. Bergmann.
“With district safety policies, to get something approved to take those visionary steps [such as the greenhouse and garden] is slow and time-consuming,” he said.
Stuart Reeve is the energy manager for the 24,00-student Poudre school district, where Kinard is located.
“We look at it economically first and foremost,” he said. The district has implemented a sustainability-management system that tracks each school’s energy use to help cut costs in all schools in the district, not just the newly built ones, he said.
And, in his experience, new sustainable school buildings have not cost more to build than their nonsustainable counterparts, Mr. Reeve said. “You just have to be smarter about how you do it,” he said.
A 6th grader walks to toss his lunch waste into the compost, waste, or recycle bin near thecafeteria at Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School in Fort Collins, Colo. The school features a curriculum that emphasizes environmentally friendly service-learning projects.
—Nathan W. Armes for Education Week
When Worms Meet Wikis, Anything Can Happen
Northern Colorado Business Report
May. 21, 2010
By: Jessica Centers
FORT COLLINS - With a group of environmentally conscious and social media savvy eighth-graders leading the way, over the last 25 weeks Kinard Middle School in Fort Collins has decreased the amount of trash it produces by 75 percent, diverted 12,500 pounds of food waste from landfills, and saved 106 trees.
It all started in October when Kinard partnered with Gallegos Sanitation Inc. to become the first school in the Poudre School District to compost, and the first school to have a four-stream waste system that includes trash, recycling and two levels of composting.
The program has been so successful that the Colorado Association of Recycling invited members of Kinard CARES, the environmental club leading the program, to speak at their annual Summit for Recycling conference in June.
"I came into eighth grade thinking this is going to being so hard," student Sophia Alessi said of rallying her student body around sustainability. "But it was quite simple because students learn so easily, and they're excited about it, about what we can do for the environment. Even though we are only one school, we can make a difference. Everyone can make a difference."
Students at Kinard began recycling in April 2009, and in August they started vermicomposting food waste.
"We noticed we were having a lot of food waste in our cafeteria," eighth-grader Juliet Mullen said. "We knew we could help out, so we put a worm box in the back of our school."
In October, the school decided to seek the help of Gallegos Sanitation in doing even more. Gallegos was already the school district's trash hauler, but its business model had been shifting toward community education and outreach on reducing waste and incorporating different waste streams.
Becca Walkinshaw, sustainability coordinator, was contacted by the district about Kinard's interest in composting. She was accustomed to doing free education and outreach for local businesses, but she didn't know what to expect going into a school.
"We played it by ear," she says. "We did an audit of the waste stream: trash and recycling and worm compost. We saw some contamination in the recycling, items going into trash that could have been recycled, and we gave a presentation on the four waste streams."
The new concept was hot compost. The students had learned through worm composting that anything that had been in the ground could go back in the ground, but hot composting was a step beyond that. Anything that was ever alive - like paper - could be collected for hot composting at an offsite, commercial facility.
Once their efforts got under way, Kinard CARES wanted to keep the rest of the student body excited. Gallegos and Walkinshaw helped by tracking the weight of the trash they were hauling (or not hauling) and sending the students weekly stats they also translated in terms of trees saved. Recently, Walkinshaw taught the students how to calculate their own diversion rate.
Social marketing campaign
The students also embarked on a social marketing campaign that included T-shirts, clear signs with images explaining what waste goes where in addition to manning the stations like traffic cops, incentives for recycling and composting, talking to sixth-grade classes and incoming fifth graders, and creating a Wiki page - http://kinardcares.wikispaces.com/ - with videos promoting their efforts and details about the program.
The campaign also encourages students to be healthier, since it's junk food that creates trash like wrappers. Produce can all be composted.
"We really challenge our students at Kinard that when you throw something away to think about 'where is away?' not to just lazily throw things in the trash," according to Chris Bergmannn, the science teacher who runs the Kinard CARES environmental club. "We help them make good decisions."
Especially for his club, he said the program has offered students a chance to utilize 21st-century skills to make a real impact. "They're speaking up, not just learning in the classroom," he said. "They're empowered by making big changes in their community. That's very powerful as they grow into adulthood."
Eighth-grader Sara Mundo didn't know anything about recycling or composting when the school year started. She's since not only taken a leadership role in the program at school, but also took the information home and changed how her house operates. She's passionate that she can convince others in her community to do the same.
The students have also completed service projects cleaning up the Poudre River and did trail work on a recent service learning field trip to Catalina Island in California. Since returning, they have been educating their peers about buying locally grown fruits and vegetables to reduce their carbon footprint because of what they learned about how far food travels, said eighth-grader Lorena Martinez.
"It's really cool how we can make anything happen," Mundo added.
Martinez said she's most excited about the impact Kinard CARES could have by persuading other schools to follow their example.
"I really want to make a difference in my community," she said. "We've educated our peers so much. No one can do everything but everyone can do something. Diverting is really not that difficult."
Already, Walkinshaw says Gallegos is starting to work with Polaris Expeditionary Learning on composting, and Bergmann is confident that other schools will catch on. "PSD is a pretty environmentally friendly district and Kinard is leading the way," he says. "We've been bringing in other schools to help educate the rest of the community."”