The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently deemed two schools winners of its “Greenest School on Earth” Award for 2013. The Uaso Nyiro Primary School in Laikipia, Kenya, and the Sing Yin Secondary School in Hong Kong have each been awarded $5,000 to advance a new or ongoing sustainability project.
Courtesy Center for Green Schools
Located in an area beset by insufficient access to clean water and in which 25 percent of the community lives on less than $1.25 per day, the Uaso Nyiro school stores and filters clean water for 300 children year round with a rainwater system that harvests 350,000 liters per year. The building, designed by PITCHAfrica, utilizes local construction techniques and materials and was built for the same cost as the area’s typical four-classroom bunker-style school, but it includes protected gardens for food cultivation, teacher rooms, and a courtyard theater. School attendance has risen from 70 to 90 percent since its start, while instances of waterborne disease have “dropped to zero,” according to officials.
Sing Yin School boasts advanced technology like thin-film solar panels and reinforces environmental lessons through its curriculum.
Sing Yin faces very different environmental challenges in its urban setting of Hong Kong, including dangerous air pollution levels and a severe waste-management problem. Programs such as low-carbon cooking and the importance of recycling are listed on the school’s website for the largely low-income student body. The school also features two green roofs, an organic farm, and an aquarium, providing a connection to nature the students might otherwise lack.
“We selected both of these schools because of what they say about the scale and scope in the movement,” said Rick Fedrizzi, founding chair of USGBC. “They demonstrate that, across the world, from community to community and from city to village, where we learn matters.”
Copyright 2013 by BuildingGreen Inc.