Through this credit, you incorporate the building’s sustainable design features directly into the school curriculum, enhancing students’ educational experiences, while getting more benefit from the school’s investment in sustainability.
The school itself acts as a living lab that informs students about energy and water efficiency, indoor air quality, connection to the outdoors, and can motivate students to get involved in activities that promote sustainability and environmental awareness. Hands-on learning can provide both a more exciting learning environment and a more effective educational experience.
It’s critical to enlist a group of faculty—the “green team”—to initiate and follow through with implementing the curriculum. Your first step should be to open communication with teachers to gauge their level of interest in working with—and in creating—this type of curriculum.
Further down the road, the project design team should meet with the “green team” to brief them about the building’s sustainable and high-performance features.
The curriculum can cover any aspect of the building’s green features and can be incorporated into any class. There’s an obvious link between green building and science or math, but there are ways to incorporate sustainability into art, health, shop, or almost any other class.
Elementary school students learn about wildlife habitat and endangered species as part of a science and social studies curriculum on the school grounds.Think big! Some creative examples include cooking with vegetables from the school’s green roof, calculating the school’s Energy Star score, or learning about volatile organic compounds (VOCsA volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a carbon compound that vaporizes (becomes a gas) at normal room temperatures. VOCs contribute to air pollution directly and through atmospheric photochemical reactions (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides and carbonates, and ammonium carbonate) to produce secondary air pollutants, principally ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrate.) and how they affect human health.
The “school as teaching tool” curriculum does not need to stand alone; in fact, it’s much easier to incorporate this credit into existing curriculum planning. Teachers must simply overlay the existing curriculum with new information about the building and discuss how it demonstrates sustainability. This will be easiest in schools that already have an environmental component to their curriculum.
Teachers can be averse to the attempting this credit—and their hesitation can be justified. Changing a curriculum can be a contentious and political process, and it can be difficult to incorporate ten hours of sustainability instruction per student per year (the credit requirement) into an existing curriculum when teachers already feel that they are short on time.
From green roofs, to renewable energy, to stormwater management, daylighting, and indoor air quality, schools are ripe to contribute to the curriculum. Image – BuildingGreen, LLCElementary schools and schools that have many groups of students in a variety of curriculum tracks may also have difficulty. On the other hand, high schools, particularly those that focus on science and technology, may find this credit quite easy.
Work with school administrators, staff, and teachers to establish their level of interest in incorporating the high-performance features of the building into the school curriculum. Identify a team of “green champions”—teachers and administrators who facilitate the development of the sustainability curriculum.
The curriculum does not have to be implemented until ten months after LEED certification. But you’ll need to start discussing this credit in the early stages of design, because the curriculum may take a while to develop, and some teachers may find it difficult to incorporate an additional ten hours per student devoted to high-performance design.
Designing the building as a teaching tool needs to be addressed early in the design process. For example, some schools like to show a “truth window” that provides a view of a dissected wall assembly. Another idea is to include a mostly white roof, with only a small portion that is black—an easy way to demonstrate the temperature differences between the two colors. If your project attempts something like this, you need to design for safety and proper roof access for students, or you can design built-in thermometers so that students don’t even have to access the roof. But these and other features need to be included in the building design—it will be harder to accomplish them as afterthoughts.
Discuss exactly what ten curriculum hours per full-time student per year might look like. It may be relatively easy to overlay an existing curriculum—for example, adding building information to an existing environmental sciences class. Some curriculum areas—like a computer class, for example—might present more challenges. Keep communications open with the teachers, and determine together the best strategy for the school.
When submitting the credit to LEED Online, you are required to provide a narrative on how the curriculum was developed. It is a good idea to document meetings between the design team and the teachers as a way of describing curriculum development.
The design team can aid teachers in developing the curriculum by providing resources for existing environmental and sustainability lesson plans, and by communicating in detail about the building’s high-performance design features.
Discuss the potential for your project to attempt EAc5: Measurement and Verification, which could provide a good way for students to have access to energy and water consumption data. Through their studies, they may even determine ways they can help to improve their building’s performance. This is not required for credit compliance, but it can be a great teaching tool. If your school will not be attempting EAc5, consider having students evaluate the school’s Energy Star score through Portfolio Manager.
Consider including the following features in your school, as they generally have visible, “teachable” elements, while helping with other LEED credits:
Consider using different interior design elements for different areas or classrooms that can serve as exhibits for different products, materials, designs, or furniture types. Further, the opportunity for contests between classrooms—in terms of energy use, water use, and waste—can be a good way to engage students. (This generally requires tracking infrastructure and operational support.)
This credit does not focus on improving test scores or health, but it can be helpful to discuss with faculty and staff (or incorporate into the curriculum) the benefits a green building can have on student performance and health.
Generally, this is a low- to no-cost credit. The only requirement is the development of a curriculum that uses the building as a teaching tool. This can take quite a bit of staff time to develop, however.
Determine which teachers and school administrators are going to spearhead this effort. These individuals are in charge of developing the curriculum and making sure it is properly executed.
Teachers should start thinking about ways in which the building and its operations can be used to educate their students. It might be best to pick out a specific sustainability issue and use the building as a tangible example. Consider, for instance, how the roof system relates to energy savings, how window selection and placement relate to lighting power load, or how native and adapted plantings affect water consumption.
This credit is ultimately about education, not just about the function and design of the building. Some schools may have flashy green features that are obvious and easy to teach, but even less state-of-the-art buildings can provide students with a good learning experience.
The teachers need to be sure that there is a clear correlation between the curriculum and the sustainability strategies incorporated in the building.
In seeking inspiration for curriculum development, consider using some of the following questions as points of discussion:
Keep communications open between the teachers and the design team. Their collaborative efforts can make this credit a success. It is a good idea to have the design team track items that might be good to incorporate in the school’s sustainability curriculum, in case they have ideas that the teachers can use.
When designing the curriculum, be aware that it needs to be approved by school administrators and meet local or state standards. This is typically standard procedure for schools, but changing a curriculum can be a challenging, political, and sometimes long process.
The design team works with school administrators and teachers to determine features of the building that are important for students to learn about and to discuss additional features that could aid in students’ ability to learn about sustainability.
Consider incorporating the following LEED credits in to your school as a teaching tool curriculum:
Consider holding at least one meeting at which the design team and the teachers can discuss the process of design, and the teachers can gain a better understanding of the building.
You may want to include a building management system that automatically tracks energy and water data. However, you can attain trending data even without an automated system. Consider providing first-order measurement systems that track or spot-meter energy and water use. You don’t need fancy tools to keep students interested—inexpensive temperature sensors are a great way to learn about heat transfer and energy consumption.
You can create a demonstration lab that compares the energy consumption of different light fixtures, such as typical incandescent, halogen, and compact fluorescent. Make sure that the fixtures used in the school are demonstrated too, so that students can understand what’s going on in their building.
The teachers finalize the sustainability curriculum.
If there is an existing environmental portion of a class, developing and incorporating the high-performance building into that curriculum may not be that time-consuming or challenging. However, if there is no foundation to start from, teachers may find this a very time-intensive task.
Make sure that the curriculum covers ten hours for every full-time student. For example, if you have a middle school with grades 6–8, you might have one lesson plan for each grade. For example:
Consider including a webcam to document construction activities for future use in a classroom, or using the energy model and building plans as teaching tools.
The design team and contractor may want to track specific product data sheets that could help with the curriculum. For example, the teachers might find it helpful to have the window specifications or the MSDS for the paints used.
The sustainability curriculum on the high-performance features of the school must be implemented within ten months after LEED certification. Be sure to finalize the curriculum and have it approved by the school administrators well in advance of this ten-month deadline.
It is a good idea to get approval in writing from the school administrators.
Document this credit through LEED Online. You’ll need to provide a narrative detailing the process of developing the school as a teaching tool curriculum, and describe how the curriculum makes a connection between the school and the living environment in and around the school. The LEED credit form requires a signoff (typically done by the school principal) verifying that:
Consider inviting the teachers to walk the site during construction and take photographs of the construction process. These can be used later on with the curriculum. Photos might be especially helpful for shop or art classes.
Implement the “school as a teaching tool” curriculum within ten months of completing the building. Be sure that each student receives ten hours of lessons on sustainability per year.
The teachers should continue to develop the sustainability curriculum and continue to learn about high-performance buildings.
The credit does not specify how long the curriculum must be in place, but the intent is that it is ongoing, and that lesson plans evolve and improve over time.
If the school has an environmental club or green team, see if they want to be involved in improving the sustainability curriculum. Ask for their input and what they think would be exciting learn about.
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Schools New Construction and Major Renovations
To integrate the sustainable features of a school facility with the school’s educational mission.
Design a curriculum based on the high-performance features of the building, and commit to implementing the curriculum within 10 months of LEED certification. The curriculum should not just describe the features themselves, but explore the relationship between human ecology, natural ecology and the building. Curriculum must meet local or state curriculum standards, be approved by school administrators and provide 10 or more hours of classroom instruction per year, per full-time student.
It is highly recommended that project teams coordinate closely with school administration and faculty where possible, to encourage ongoing relationships between high-performance features of the school and the students. For curriculum development, engage the school in a program that integrates the school building with the curriculum in the school. Consider the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Schools Program, and National Energy Foundation educational resources. A collection of energy education resources can also be found at the Energy Information Administration’s Web site at: www.eia.doe.gov/kids/onlineresources.html.
This website provides interesting ideas on K-12 curriculums for math and science. Many of these ideas can be adapted to include the building.
This website provides educational resources on green roofs for middle school students.
Students can determine the school’s Energy Star rating through the use of Portfolio Manager.
The guide connects students to a thorough water education program including water's chemical and physical properties, quantity and quality issues, water user group needs, and ecosystems and management strategies. This 561-page guide is a collection of multidisciplinary water-related activities for ages 5 through 18 that are hands-on, easy to use, and fun. The lessons incorporate a variety of formats, such as large and small group learning, whole-body activities, laboratory investigations, discussion of local and global topics, and community service projects.
A simple step-by-step guide to help students perform energy audits on their schools and then lobby for change.
Designed for grades K–3, this free curriculum, offered by EPA’s Region 1 (headquartered in Boston), supplements the principles and materials in the IAQIndoor air quality: The quality and attributes of indoor air affecting the health and comfort building occupants. IAQ encompasses available fresh air, contaminant levels, acoustics and noise levels, lighting quality, and other factors. Tools for Schools Action Kit.
The Green Schools Initiative has developed a curriculum to help integrate issues of forest protection and reducing paper waste into students’ studies. Sample data sheets, homework assignments, cost-benefit analysis of switching to recycled paper, and other internet resources are provided.
Alliance’s Green Schools Program engages students in creating energy-saving activities in their schools using hands-on, real-world projects. Lesson plans for different age groups can be downloaded for free on this website.
The Center for Ecoliteracy promotes sustainability education through systems thinking and place-based learning. Specific curriculum guidelines emphasize food systems and watersheds, but the website also offers useful articles and resources concerning systems thinking, environmental education, and ecological literacy.
The Center for Understanding the Built Environment specializes in community-based education, which brings together educators, children, and community partners to effect change. The center provides courses, workshops, newsletters, and teaching guides to help students appreciate good design, preservation, and planning. Curricula can be adapted to any site or grade level.
The EnergySmart Schools website serves as a mechanism to provide education and information about energy-efficient, healthy, high-performance K-12 schools. The website includes resources for teachers, including a digitized version of the Get Smart about Energy CD-Rom, a curriculum enhancement tool containing 350 inquiry-based lessons aligned to National Science Education Standards.
Earth Day Network’s Environmental Education Program provides curriculum resources, games, interactive quizzes, and other tools for integrating environmental issues into core curriculum subjects.
“The EIC Model™ is a system of specific, interconnected educational practices and encompasses professional development and program evaluation. Learning based on the EIC Model™ is about using a school’s surroundings and community as a framework within which students can construct their own learning, guided by teachers and administrators using proven educational practices.”
The EPA Teacher Resources website contains curricula and links to help educators teach environmental topics, from waste and recycling to local environmental cleanup. Curricula for a variety of age groups are available.
This document gives a wonderful overview on incorporating design features into the curriculum, provides case studies, and numerous links.
School Building Week, under the aegis of the CEFPI Foundation & Charitable Trust, is a weeklong commemoration creating greater public awareness of the importance of well-planned, high-performance, healthy, safe, and sustainable school buildings that enhance student performance and community vitality. The Student Design Competition program challenges students to plan and design school buildings that enhance their own academic performance and the vitality of the communities they serve. Curriculum for this design competition addresses the national math standards for middle schools and provides an opportunity to apply mathematical concepts relevant to students’ lives.
The sample shown here is a curriculum that was approved on a LEED project.
Documentation for this credit can be part of a Design Phase submittal.
Could someone please guide me to find credit template/forms for innovation credits?Especially Schools-2009 IDc3: The School as a Teaching Tool
As Below link does not give any innovation credits templates.
Ameet, for some reason, I don't think USGBC has posted those forms. I would request them by emailing GBCI through their website.
Thank you Tristan
A project we are working on is considering implementing a student club program in order to fulfill the requirements for this credit. Perhaps the student club could formulate a program that informs other students throughout the school about the sustainable features of the school/site (such as signage or activities/programs)? Would this be sufficient to fulfill this requirement?
Any information you have would be greatly appreciated!
Probably not, because it must include a curriculum which meets state or local standards and class time. A club will likely not meet those requirments. Please see the credit language above for more information.
The Green Education Foundation (GEF) offers a great curriculum that uses the building as a teaching tool - see PDF available online, http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org (click on the "green building" tab). This program is in it's pilot stage, but I don't think you have to participate in the pilot program - looks like you can just use the materials. You will notice that the lesson plans included here are for Kindergarten -2nd grade, but a full range of grade levels should be available very soon.
This program is nice because it offers a full 10 hour/15-lesson curriculum, complete with a teachers manual, unit plan, pacing guide and all lesson plans. All of the lessons (in the K-2nd curriculum) use Science, English, and Social Studies.
If I had this resource when we started this project, it would have been a HUGE time saver... I think you still need to involve your design team in the curriculum development, but this is a great resource, whether you use it as a starting point or as a plug-and-play curriculum. I'm assuming LEED-Schools will accept it, since it is being developed in partnership between USGBC and GEF :)
Sorry, the PDF link is http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/images/stories/School_as_a_Teach...
This link will probably be outdated in the future (since it's currently in the pilot stage), so just go to their website and navigate to the "green buildings" tab.
We have a LEED for Schools 2009 project that is involved in the GEF Pilot Program. The building is a high school (11th & 12th grades on a community college campus) that is offering their Green Building Course as a semester elective. After submitting for this credit in the Design Review, we were denied the point because "two classes of 23 students meeting twice a week" that are enrolled in the elective did not match our PIF3 Occupant and Usage data of 225 students. "Documentation does not confirm that all full-time students at the school will receive ten or more hours of classroom instruction per year as part of this curriculum... for future submittals, please provide confirmation that all students at the school will receive at least ten hours of classroom instruction per year as part of this curriculum."
Anyone have any suggestions of overcoming this? I believe that it is unrealistic to assume that every student be required to take a course at the 11th and 12th grade level.
Tim, is the issue that you are just providing curriculum for the high school students and GBCI is asking what about the community college students?
If that's the case I'm not sure what to advise. I agree that it would not be reasonable to expect college students to use h.s. curriculum, but to meet this credit you would technically need to provide curriculum to those students as well, unless it can be sucessfully argued that they should be exempt. However, exempting most of the population of the building doesn't seem to really fit the credit intent.
Speaking of community colleges; has anyone parlayed this into credit at the post-secondary level?
Cindy, I just checked GBIG.org for certified projects that have earned this credit, and at a glance I don't see any post-secondary projects.
The Principal at our school project asked a couple of questions about their sustainability curriculum program that I was unable to find a solid answer for:
1. Does the school need to commit to implementing the curriculum beyond the first year? If so, for how long?
2. Does the curriculum have to address the school building directly? Or can it address human and natural ecology, and green building in general?
I can guess the answer based on the credit intent "To integrate the sustainable features of a school facility with the school’s educational mission." However, I'm wondering if anyone has further evidense of these specific requirements...
Thanks in advance for your input!
I haven't seen anything in the requirements as to how long the curriculum should be implemented, but I think the expectation is that the School as a Teaching Tool curriculum will be implemented on an on-going basis and provide a foundation for other sustainability related content in the future.
And yes, the curriculum needs to address the building directly, but from my experience all of the 10 hours don't need to be dedicated specifically to the green building technologies/materials in the building. The lessons can be related to or provide context for teaching about aspects of the building, like teaching about the importance of conserving energy and resources.
I hope you're right that the curriculum can include some lessons that provide context. Our Principal has already collected a 3-ring binderGlue used in manufacturing wood products, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), particleboard, and engineered lumber. Most binders are made with formaldehyde. full of lessons from the GEF website (under the "curriculum" tab). The site includes interesting topics like "air pollution math", "litter from lunch", "how to grow a sunflower plant," etc. These seem less connected to the building but still vauable learning opportunities about sustainable processes and practices.
I have pursued The School as a Teaching Tool on a few schools now and have seen the requirements change over the past couple of years. On my first project I was able to describe the resources that I made available to the teachers and a general outline of sustainable features of the school. On my latest school project this strategy didn't quite make the grade. The reviewer asked for, " specific examples of curriculum, such as teaching plans, course outlines, etc. demonstrating how the sustainable features of this specific school facility will be integrated into the school's sustainability curriculum such that the school building and grounds themselves serve as a teaching tool" (Whew). I was surprised with this response since the curriculum doesn't need to be implemented until 10 months after certification is awarded. I'm not going to fight it, instead I'll just put it off until the construction application. Hope this helps.
I was able to earn this credit on one elementary school project using some lessons from GEF along with additional lessons about energy savings and native habitats. On another elementary school the same credit was denied, the reviewers stated "it appears that several of the lessons are general environmental stewardship curriculum and it is unclear how these courses use the school as a teaching tool."
Senior Sustainability Manager
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