Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Green School

What do our president-elect Barack Obama, Steve Case (founder of AOL) and Pierre Omidyar (founder of e-Bay) have in common? They all attended high school in Hawaii, at the Panahou School. The school boasts a long list of worthies as former alumni, but that is not the only thing that makes the school newsworthy.

In the fall of 2005, for five balmy Honolulu days, a group of thirty individuals representing students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees and parents, gathered to talk about improving Hawaii's top private school's physical environment. The Panahou's School ground's were already gorgeous, classrooms full of windows and lit by sunshine and many of the buildings historically significant, but this group gathered to discuss a deeper way to improve the school's environment; they were to define sustainability and come up with suggestions on implementation of a Sustainability Initiative. The group pondered long and came up with the following broad definition of sustainability:

Sustainability is...

  • A world that continually maintains and improves the human condition, without negatively impacting future generations.

  • A world populated by people who recognize that there are natural limits to resources, and who are mindful of the interconnectedness of things.

  • A world that carefully attends to its environmental, social, economic, cultural, and intellectual resources, and that continuously advances learning and ideas.

The 3,7000 student K-12 school is openly centered on the belief that each child can make a difference in the world. And even though this "difference" made by each child is not limited to learning to live sustainably, a solid green-based philosophy makes sense.

In 2006 the Panahou School was rated as the #1 Green School in the United States by National Geographic. This success seems to have only fueled the school's desire to continue with their sustainability plan that extends to 2016. The long term plan includes improvement in student's meals; students are offered locally grown, organic Food, and reduction in paper use to move to more digitized school work.

This school certainly has the financial means to make all these plans a reality. They are a large school, and a model of what many other schools could be doing to improve the environment their students move in.

No comments:

Post a Comment