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Green Building and Ecological Design

The fields of green building and ecological design have much to offer to those who are seeking to improve the ecological impact of schools and school grounds. These well established disciplines are particularly useful to existing schools considering renovations to make them more energy, water, and resource efficient as well as healthier places to work and play. Green building and ecological design principles and techniques are also very effective, of course, if incorporated into the design for brand new school buildings.

The list of green building and ecological design resources below are just a fraction of what is on the internet, but they are a good place to start. The list of case studies below includes examples of schools around the world that include significant ecological design elements in their classroom buildings.

Please contact the webmaster if you know of additional resources or case studies that should be added to this page. Thanks!

Resources for Green Building and Ecological Design

Resource Title Description
Architects, Designers, Planners for Social Responsibility

ADPSR "is a national non-profit organization of architects, designers, planners and related professionals. We are committed to correcting the imbalance between the need to provide for the common defense and the need to promote the well being of all our citizens. ADPSR’s efforts are directed towards arms reduction, protection of the natural and built environment and socially responsible development." - Northern California Chapter

New Village is the national journal of ADPSR. "New Village brings community activists, designers, economists, sociologists and residents together to tell stories about innovative community revitalization strategies."

National, Washington, DC, USA
High Performance School Buildings, Sustainable Buildings Industry Council

A project of SBIC that seeks "to generate interest among school building owners and designers in building a new generation of high performance, sustainable school facilities. Working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and key schools organizations, the campaign includes workshops, a Resource Guide, and policy analysis."

National, Washington, DC, USA
Sustainable Buildings Industry Council "SBIC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the design, affordability, energy performance, and environmental soundness of residential, institutional, and commercial buildings nationwide." National, Washington, DC, USA
United States Green Building Council "The U.S. Green Building Council is the nation's foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work. " Website includes information about The LEED Green Building Rating System™. National, Washington, DC, USA
The Collaborative for High Performance Schools Collaborative organization of California state agencies, utilities, and others concerned about the health and environment of California schools. Encourages schools to use green building techniques to improve indoor air quality (and other health-related concerns), energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, etc. Statewide, California, USA
Ecological Design Institute Ecological design firm, affiliated with Van der Ryn Architects, specializing in green architecture, sustainable community planning, education and training programs, sustainable technologies research, and publications. Sausalito, California, USA
Ecological Design Center, University of Oregon "A student organization at the University of Oregon for the promotion of sustainable design solutions." Eugene, Oregon, USA

Architecture Resources


Architecture related news, books and web resources USA
Green Building and Ecological Design Resources around the World
Solearth Ecological Architecture Architecture firm specializing in green building design. Website includes interesting articles about ecological design. Dublin, Ireland
Center for Alternative Technology "Europe's Leading Eco-Centre" with an excellent online "green building" bookstore and other information Machynlleth, Powys, United Kingdom


Green Building Case Studies on School Grounds around the World

School Name Project Description Location
Boyne River Natural Science School Facility used by schools in the Toronto, Ontario area for outdoor and science education. Living machine processes some of the site's blackwater from the toilet system. Shelburne, Ontario, Canada
Cassop Primary School Elementary school with large wind turbine that produces more energy than the school uses each year. Good information about their wind turbine. County Durham, England
Cool Schools, Los Angeles Unified School District and the Department of Water and Power This innovative organization is a partnership between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the local Department of Water and Power. The Cool Schools program seeks to improve the energy and water efficiency of schools in Los Angeles by removing asphalt, planting trees, and testing new energy efficiency technologies and site designs. Los Angeles, California, USA
Crenshaw High School Project proposal for extensive water system retrofits for this school. Proposal written by an organization called TreePeople. Ambitious proposal includes several cisterns, shower graywater system, pervious paving, vegetated swales, vertical gardening. Description also includes cost/benefit analysis. Los Angeles, California, USA
John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona One of the first examples of "ecological school grounds" at the university level. Excellent model of educational and functional renewable energy systems. Pomona, California, USA
Montgomery High School The schoolyard Native Plants Garden makes extensive and artful use of recycled building materials. San Diego, California, USA
Darrow High School Residential school for 90 students in the Berkshire Mountains that replaced their sewage septic system with a Living Machine®. New Lebanon, New York, USA
Durant Middle School School saves energy through the use of daylighting (sky lights and windows) in its classrooms and cafeteria. Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Oberlin College

The design of the A.J. Lewis Center for Environmental Studies embodies the principles that are taught at this school. The building is extremely energy efficient, and is a net energy producer. Recycled products were used in the building's construction. A living machine processes waste products from the building's toilet system. University students were extensively involved in the research and design phases of the building's construction, and now continue to monitor the building's eco-effectiveness.

Additional articles: 1, 2

Oberlin, Ohio, USA
ERB Memorial "Solar" Student Union, University of Oregon A student-led project to add solar panels to the roof of the student union building on the campus of the University of Oregon Eugene, Oregon, USA