Education has long been one of the major pillars of a healthy society. And in recent years, the link between a healthy learning environment and the actual learning process has risen in prominence among parents and educators alike. Not unlike the connection between green building and productivity, it is argued that kids can’t learn when they’re in a building that isn’t conducive to their health.
For instance, the use of natural light has an impact on mood which to me can be something of a health issue, is a simple yet important aspect to better encourage the learning process. And as for air quality, and how important it is to minimizing illness (and therefore maximizing the time students actually spend in school), the importance of environment in this context is crucial.
Yet, the issue of student heath is only one aspect. The education of students extends to the greater environment too, and on global issues on which the very design and construction of schools and other buildings have enormous impact. In this respect, there is a need for consciousness-raising at an early stage while children are still in school to impact the policies of the future when it comes to green building and related environmental issues.
It is incredible that there have been so many disconnects when it comes to health, to diet, and to sustainability in modern culture. All of these areas of life are intertwined. Yet understanding the connection between our impact on the environment, how the environment we’ve created in schools and in other built up areas impacts us seems to be the best way to shift approaches when it comes to development and construction.
In this, green building isn’t merely a trending series of practices. And it isn’t merely the exploration of a new avenue to stimulate a flagging economy. It certainly is both of those things. But in general summary, green building represents an acknowledgment that resources are limited, and that planning around long-term consequences, both good and bad, should be built in to any design and construction process.
Clearly, a good way to ensure that this paradigm shift happens, is to encourage that mindset with children in school. And not just by talking at them in school, but by demonstrating it by embodying the principles in the very school building in which they are learning about it.
To find out more about Green Schools and in the promotion of environmental issues in education, check out the Green Schools Initiative website.