Stuart Brodsky, AIA, LEED AP, shared insights in the Sustainable Schools column of School Planning & Management on creating sustainable PK-12 facilities. While there have been notable efforts so far from a building, materials and furnishings design standpoint, it’s important designers and educators alike continue to focus on infusing sustainable tactics and features into learning spaces. Stuart referenced examples from Chiaravalle Montessori and Booker T. Washington STEM Academy, both based in the Midwest. The following are snippets from the piece, highlighting the two schools: 

Chiaravalle Montessori, located in Evanston, seized a rare opportunity to construct a sustainable haven of Montessori learning. The 19,000 sf new North Wing was designed with a focus on bringing nature inside – 79 percent of the wing’s core learning spaces are lit through natural daylight. A 7kW roof-mounted photovoltaic array produces more than five percent of the facility’s energy, paired with a green roof that reduces storm water runoff and improves the energy performance of the building. The wing uses a geothermal heating and cooling system that substantially reduces energy consumption. These low energy use strategies helped Chiaravalle secure grant awards from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and ComEd Smart Ideas program. To make the building a learning tool itself, the wing includes an interactive sustainability dashboard so students can monitor energy use, the performance of the building systems and solar panel data.

Booker T. Washington STEM Academy, found in Champaign, takes sustainability to the next level by weaving it into every element of the design and curriculum. As the first K-5 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) magnet school in Illinois, the school incorporates sustainable features that provide opportunities for hands-on, empirically based learning.

The digital edition of the publication can be found here.

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