World’s Greenest Schools Span Spectrum


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Ohio’s got green schools, lots of ’em. But that’s yesterday’s news, and, anyway, they’re not the greenest schools. No, the greenest schools – the greenest schools in the world in 2013 – happen to be a secondary school in Hong Kong and a primary school in Kenya, spanning the spectrum from teeming metropolis to rural outpost.

This was the determination of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, in what’s becoming an annual program to show off K-12 schools that exemplify “how sustainability can be integrally woven into the infrastructure, culture and curriculum of a school.”

green schools

photo courtesy Kai Keane and Center for Green Schools

Here’s what Green Schools said about Sing Yin Secondary School in Hong Kong, pictured above:

The Sing Yin Secondary School, which largely serves low-income students, boasts an organic farm, two green roofs, a bamboo corner and an aquarium. Most classrooms are equipped with thin-film solar panels or sun-shading devices, advanced LED lighting, light sensors, motion sensors and more. The school recruits about 100 students every year to serve as environmental monitors, prefects and ambassadors. Within the community, they organized a ‘Green School, Green Family’ campaign last year in which students and their families conducted energy-saving activities to reduce household electricity use.

green schools

photo courtesy Pitch Africa and Center for Green Schools

And the Waterbank School at Nyiro Primary School (above) in Kenya was described thusly:

The Uaso Nyiro Primary School, which was designed by PITCHAfrica, is an alternative low-cost school designed for one of the poorest regions that also has insufficient access to water. The school, built from local materials with local labor for the same cost as a conventional linear school, stores and filters clean water for 700 children year round, provides protected gardens for growing fresh vegetables and includes a community workshop and courtyard theater for community gatherings and environmental theater. The school serves a disadvantaged community, 25 percent of whom live on less than $1.25/day. Since its opening, school attendance has risen to 95 percent and waterborne disease has dropped to zero.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.