SUSTAINABILITY AS A CORE VALUE
The Museum School is dedicated to principles of sustainability – the idea that a balance exists between meeting the needs of the present and ensuring the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Our students study and participate in environmentally sound processes throughout the school, such as recycling, energy conservation and waste reduction. Our curriculum emphasizes sustainability, particularly with learning institutions that focus on natural science or history. The curriculum at The Museum School is interdisciplinary by design to help children see that seemingly isolated facts and events are interconnected. Each classroom has a student who assumes the role of sustainability leader, encouraging and enforcing sustainability guidelines, such as turning off lights when the room is empty.
The Museum School is housed in a set of existing buildings, gradually renovating the campus in a phased approach rather than constructing on a greenfield site.
The school recently installed a Captain Planet “Learning Garden” as a teaching tool for students. The program provides schools with strategies for building effective and long-lasting garden-based learning programs. Gardens provide a context for multidisciplinary learning, ranging from nutrition and science to social studies, math and language arts.
Parking is kept to a minimum, encouraging occupants to use alternative methods of transportation and to park on the street when driving is necessary. No new parking has been created since The Museum School moved to the campus. The City of Avondale Estates provided a gate into the city’s park, adjacent to the campus, allowing students to walk or bike to school.
The Museum School’s buildings are equipped with a Building Dashboard that measures electricity consumption in real time. This equipment was purchased with grant funds, specifically the ERM Sustainability Fellowship award, awarded to a member of The Museum School’s Facility Committee for a grant proposal titled Encouraging Energy-Saving Occupant Behavior in a Public Charter School. The Museum School is named in the proposal as the subject of study. These excerpts from the proposal describe the effort: “This initiative addresses the current and pressing problem of reducing energy use in a set of existing buildings, as it proposes that teachers and students at the school be given energy use data about the school and asked to analyze, interpret, and predict how modifications to their behavior will reduce building energy use…Occupants will continually be encouraged to take specific energy-saving actions, which will vary by occupant type depending on the level of environmental control the occupant has. However, activities that could potentially affect occupant comfort would be prohibited…Through these investigative classroom activities, occupants will discover how their actions affect energy use. Occupants will eventually be able to identify the biggest impacts on energy use and where the potential for savings lies…TMS can set overall energy performance goals and achieve energy cost savings for the school by engaging the students and teachers to save energy at an individual level… The financial incentive will come in the form of reduced operating costs for the school, which relies heavily on donations to operate as a charter school…The students will hone their real-life problem solving skills and come to understand the ripple effects of their actions. The teachers will gain experience in how to incorporate sustainability measures into their curriculum and use energy bench-marking tools.”
The school is gradually replacing all incandescent and fluorescent lamps with LEDs. New conference rooms are equipped with overhead LED lighting. High-pressure sodium lamps installed on the gymnasium’s exterior and under the sidewalk canopy have been replaced with LED lamps.
MATERIALS AND RESOURCE EFFICIENCY
Building occupants have access to recycling collection bins for cardboard, paper, aluminum, and plastic. As part of the Cartridge World Recycling Program, students, parents and staff turn in empty printer cartridges (any size laser and ink jet). For every cartridge collected, the school receives money.
When possible, existing building elements are reused, rather than purchasing new materials to complete the renovation.
INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
The building uses daylight and takes advantage of outdoor views where possible, maintaining a connection to the outdoors for occupants.
Smoking is prohibited both on site and indoors.