3. Please describe how sustainability would factor into your decision-making process regarding fitting major school construction/renovation projects and daily operation of school buildings. What do you think can better support healthy, resource-efficient and environmentally friendly learning spaces?
Please note: The responses from those who accepted our invitation to answer in writing are listed alphabetically.
I serve on the Early Childhood Program and Lincoln-Eliot school building committees. We have certainly discussed how we can use building systems that are not fossil fuel dependent. I have also advocated for less pavement/impermeable surfaces, particularly when it comes to replacing green space with parking.
All our new buildings are both more and less efficient because we are bound by state regulations and requirements, such as increased space, air conditioning, larger buildings requiring more busses (less walkable) etc. We have been working hard to make them efficient and install solar panels, for example, as energy use is a key expense and sustainability issues. NPS can definitely improve on daily operations – composting, recycling, and transportation. One of the biggest issues is behavior change with parents driving students to school.
I am not sure if we have, as a community (beyond NPS), established best practices with regard to maintenance and capital improvements to our public buildings. Setting standards for projects, internal environment etc. would likely go a long way to making schools more sustainable.
School building projects are driven by the city side of government, but always have at least one school committee member on the official building committee. If I were to sit on one of the school building committees, I would definitely advocate for green and sustainable school buildings.
Practicing waste minimization and promoting and practicing waste recycling. Collecting and recycling paper and books. Maximizing the use of recycled and recyclable materials. Minimizing use of plastic packaging.
When we are designing new schools, or major renovations of new schools, sustainability and energy efficiency should be a significant factor in making design decisions. Even among our school buildings that are not slated for major overhauls, there are a number of steps we can take to improve the environmental impact of their daily operations. I fully support the installation of solar panels in all feasible locations, and I think that we have work to do in terms of recycling both our classroom and cafeteria waste streams. The new textile recycling program at Newton North is an excellent example of the types of steps we should be taking to increase community access to recycling options. I am also encouraged by the initial receptivity of the schools’ new food vendor to explore food recycling programs.
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