Is your school the greenest on Earth? The Greenest School on Earth recognition is an annual announcement made by the Center for Green Schools, highlighting a K-12 school that exemplifies how sustainability can be integrally woven into the infrastructure, culture and curriculum of a school. The Center for Green Schools defines a green school as one that achieves zero environmental impact (including energy, water, waste and carbon), a positive impact on occupant health and performance, and 100% environmentally literate graduates. These are encompassed in three pillars—environmental impact, human health and ecoliteracy.
“Peter Pan” kindergarten in Cavareno (Trento, Italy) has just applied – thanks to Macro Design Studio – 2014 call for the Greenest School. Cavareno is a small (1,000 inhabitants) village located 1,000 meters high in Non Valley (Trentino, Italy) a wide green valley covered with meadows, woods and apple trees. Even a small village like this one can do a lot in terms of sustainability explained and experienced in school, from the very early children age. The first building for the kindergarten was built in 1913 and then enlarged forty years later. After a complete requalification of the complex in 2009, now “Peter Pan” school is located in a new timber building with a lot of natural light and beautiful colours. Do you want to take a trip in this school …? Keep on reading 🙂
Waste is 100 % differentiated and then transferred to CRM Centro Raccolta Materiali (waste materials collection center of Cavareno, shared with other municipalities), that allows to recycle or dispose locally, according to the current regulations, 32 different categories of waste. In addition, a multilevel education, constantly promoted and supported by the municipality, has contributed to the growth of the attention to waste materials selection and reuse. Moreover, the school uses cloth towels and napkins.
Rainwater is harvested for garden irrigation and toilet flushing. Heating system and domestic hot water for the building are guaranteed by the municipal biomass district heating, installed in 2012 and serving all the village’s public buildings. During 2013/2014 school season, total annual consumption was approximately 111,000 kWh, for a cost of about € 8,900 (net of tax reductions). The energy performance index, including domestic hot water, which is largely produced by solar panels, is about 80 Kwh/sqm per year.
The school was built through the redevelopment of two existing historic buildings (the kinder garden and the rectory) with a bio-compatible timber structure (average transmittance 0.20 W/sqmK). These two aspects (redevelopment, timber) have saved embodied energy and CO2 emissions. Other features: bioclimatic design, green roof, solar greenhouses, use of natural materials and finishes, both inside and outside, Km0 cooking, with purchase of organic products for the canteen.
Human Health and Performance
Average children absence is between 8 and 8.3%, including those children who do not attend for a few months, because they go and visit their relatives in their home countries (Romania, Albania, Morocco, etc.). Average teachers’ absence is not significant, because much related to operations or medical situations that have nothing to do with their profession.
Children can greet their parents seeing them from the window, even while inside the classroom and under the supervision of the teacher. Children can easily find sheltered and reserved places, but always under the teacher’s gaze ..
The wide open spaces, e.g. the dining room, with a large fresh air supply “smell” never smell musty; indeed, sometimes they smell of freshly baked bread.
Environmental education is emphasized in this school through several activities.
School: guardian of ancient seeds, to preserve local biodiversity; for the home production, in order to reduce carried products (Participation in the competition “For a handful of seeds“). Waste recycling together with children (paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, wood), and with adults (all).
High use of paper and waste reuse for new products; prevailing use of natural or recyclable products for decorations (paper, wool, clay, wood). Constant presence in the surrounding land, at least twice a week to get to know, appreciate and learn how to “manage” it, in every season. When it’s possible in winter even with cross-country skis or snowshoes.
Implementation of specific local projects: paths that identify beautiful and characteristic elements to watch or attend; ancient trees to preserve and cure; the area between heaven and earth, between past and present (project with FAI); movable frames and landscaping of “de Zinis” Park, the crib or the sprawled exhibitions; the realization with Pro Loco (local tourist office) of “real” postcards that show the beauty of our country.
To walk to the villages where the children come from; involvement in significant moments of the agricultural works: seeding and harvest of potatoes, radicchio …The cultivation of vegetables in the garden.
Participation to projects with MART (Museum of Modern Art) in Rovereto to bind art and recycling.
People, elderly, grandparents, typical figures of the village and of the area sometimes enter the school (or we meet them outside) to let us know works, activities, experiences of today or of the past.
Moreover, school and municipality are involved in the network of the Alta Val di Non – Futuro sostenibile association, founded in 2009 to promote an aware and responsible management of the whole territory of the valley, with the mission to protect the landscape. Their challenge is focused in particular on the protection of the incomparable and fascinating meadows. It is a long range battle which also involves the massive use in the past of herbicides and fungicides without adequate regulations to protect citizens.