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Inverness Associates News

The Benefits of Green Schools: The Triple Bottom Line

In two recent talks at the NAIS Green Town Hall in February and at the California Independent Schools Business Officers Association meeting in May, I made the case that greening schools makes sense/cents.  It is increasingly clear that environmentally sustainable, high efficiency, high performance green schools offer a compelling “triple bottom line” that promises to save money, strengthen achievement, and improve health.   Many of NAIS member schools and public schools across the country are demonstrating tangible results from the green efforts.  This article tells some of their stories of success saving significant dollars and highlights these schools: Punahou School; Hawaii Preparatory Academy; Athenian School; Castilleja School; Cate School; Midland School; St. Gregory College Prep; Berkshire School; North Country School; Hotchkiss School; Riverdale School; Lawrenceville School.  See the PowerPoint on Triple Bottom Line on the Experience section of the website.


How Green is Boulder’s Valley?

What does it look like when an entire school district turns green?  To find out, I visited the Boulder, Colorado schools on a crisp winter day in February 2012 and discovered a district in the process of a remarkable transformation of its entire system of education and operations, in collaboration with the city and many non-profit partners.  From my meetings with everyone, from the Superintendent, Board members and the district Sustainability Coordinator to the students, teachers and staff in the schools, it was vividly clear that Boulder is a shining example of how schools can embrace the highest standards of environmental sustainability.


NAIS Schools Leading the Green Movement

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan yesterday announced the selection of 11 NAIS schools, among a group of 78 nation wide, to receive the first Green Ribbon Schools Award, a very impressive showing. 

The recipients demonstrate best practices to reduce environmental impact, promote health, and ensure a high-quality environmental and outdoor education program.  They were selected from an initial group of over 350 schools that submitted applications to their state education departments.  The NAIS schools named include: The Athenian School,
 Danville, California; Sidwell Friends Middle School,
 Washington, DC;  Savannah Country Day School,
 Savannah, Georgia;  Hawaii Preparatory Academy,
 Kamuela, Hawaii; The College School, St. Louis, Missouri; Crossroads College Preparatory School,
 St. Louis, Missouri;  The Willow School
, Gladstone, New Jersey; American Hebrew Academy,
 Greensboro, North Carolina;  Catlin Gable School,
 Portland, Oregon; Springside Chestnut Hill Academy,
 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and The Overlake School,
 Redmond, Washington. 

Greening America's Schools Published

Dear Friends,

I delighted to announce that my new book, Greening America’s Schools: The Environmental Sustainability Movement in K-12 Education, has been published by NAIS.  Since concluding my career as a school head, I have devoted my energies to “growing greener schools” to help address the significant environmental challenges we face, and I many will have interest in the work.

The book describes environmental sustainability in our schools through profiles of 50 private and public schools across the country that have gone green.  It shows how schools can partner with colleges, universities, science museums, and outdoor education programs to enhance their environmental education programs.  And students describe the profound, positive impact green schools can have on their education and their development as global citizen leaders. 

Hawaii’s Environmental Sustainability Movement

Emerald Islands, Ocean Blue:

Hawaii’s Environmental Sustainability Movement


Flying into Hawaii in January for a week of school visits, I was quickly reminded of why this state is in the vanguard of our nation’s environmental sustainability movement.  From the air, Hawaii’s islands appear as emeralds surrounded by fringe collars of white, dotting the vast blue ocean of the Mid-Pacific.  Hawaii is further from the continental landmass than anywhere on earth, and this distance and sense of isolation shapes a consciousness among Hawaiians that their fragile ecosystem is at risk, and that they must take urgent action to protect it.  The islands were first populated over 1500 years ago by wayfaring Polynesians who navigated thousands of miles in long, double-hulled ships, guided only by the sun, the moon, the stars and the currents, a heroic story that is being retold today by Nainoa Thompson, a graduate of the Punahou School.  As the ancient Hawaiian proverb says, “The island is the canoe, the canoe is the island.”


Hawaii Green: Reports from the Field

Hawaii Green: Reports from the Field


My week in Hawaii enabled me to see firsthand the work of five schools engaged in environmental sustainability.  Here are their stories; the first three are private-independent schools, Punahou School, La Pietra-Hawaii School for Girls, and Hawaii Preparatory Academy; the two others are public schools, Palolo Elementary School, and Ewa Makai Middle School.


1. Punahou’s Public Purpose:  Systemic Leadership for Sustainability


Green Schools of the Future for California

September 27, 2011

It was an exciting moment for the environmental sustainability movement this week when California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson called for a major initiative to bring solar power to California schools when he released the Schools of the Future report, which I helped to prepare this past spring as a member of his task force.

The San Jose Mercury News reported on the Superintendent’s announcement at a school in San Mateo just south of San Francisco: 

Net Energy Zero

Net Energy Zero: New York City PS 62


In April I joined the advisory board of GEMS, world’s largest K-12 educational organization operating some 66 schools in 12 countries around the globe.  In the course of a briefing about the new international private school they plan to open in New York City, I received an overview of their architectural plans to renovate a Manhattan office building as a state-of-the art, environmentally sensitive school building.  As a result of this meeting, I made another discovery: the project architects, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), are designing the city’s first Zero Net Energy school building, a model that promises to transform school architecture.


The Green University Connection

This year while serving at a visiting scholar at Stanford and UC Berkeley I had an opportunity to study the important leadership role colleges and universities are playing in the environmental sustainability movement in education.  Given its stature, size, and influence, the university community has provided a powerful example for change in the K-12 school community.  The case studies of Stanford and Cal, followed by shorter reports on my visits to Mills College, Princeton and Yale, sketch the outlines of some of the best green practices in higher education.


1.  Sustainable Stanford


Informal Environmental Education

In my study of the K-12 environmental education movement this year, it has become clear that the partnership between schools and the "informal" network of museums, aquariums, and outdoor programs is vital to the vibrancy of our overall educational effort.  Here are reports on two of Northern California's most impressive science centers, the Chabot Space and Science Center and the California Academy of Sciences.


1. Chabot Space and Science Center:  The “Go To” Place for Earth and Space


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