Unlike many middle and high school students nationwide who choose between tater tots and french fries when they visit their school cafeteria, students at Kent Denver School’s dining hall can choose from apples, cherries, plums and apricots from the school’s very own orchard.
That is just one of the reasons the college prep school’s dining hall was recently awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum award from the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest form of the certification offered. The certification looks at the building’s energy consumption, concepts of sustainability incorporated into the design and the amount of recycled products used in construction.
Features of the dining hall include a 27 kilowatt photovoltaic rooftop array, energy efficient lighting and appliances. Inside the dining hall, a vertical wall garden holds 576 different plants including basil, parsley, thyme and rosemary, which are used in the preparation of meals. Outside the hall is an orchard with fruit trees and a vegetable garden, which are fertilized with the dining hall’s composted food waste.
In the future, school officials say the students will harvest the produce for a local soup kitchen where they volunteer. The students will also harvest honey at the school, while studying the genetics of bees. A worm farm will also be on-site for the benefit of the gardens and study.