Other green aspects of the Sidwell Friends Middle School include:
- Construction materials came from within 500 miles, saving transport energy costs.
- Construction materials from recycled sources, such as the ceiling tiles made of recycled newspaper and flooring made from salvaged Baltimore Harbor pilings.
- A green roof which helps keep the building from heating up, lowering the cost of air conditioning. The plants on the roof include domesticated varieties of native plants, such as various asters, sunflowers and grasses, doing what plants do — taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into atmosphere. Wood notes, “We are also starting to see plants, with wind-dispersed seeds, starting to take root, even some tree seedlings.”
- A large amount thermal insulation, as well as skylights, windows and the aforementioned cooling towers, all helping keep air conditioning expenses to a minimum.
- Solar chimneys that draw warm air through vertical shafts in the building. Hot air rises through convection and is blown out above the building’s roof. The students can hear the air moving through the shafts thanks to wind chimes installed inside the shafts – taking advantage of teachable moment.
Speaking of which, such moments are commonplace at Sidwell Friends.
One project that Wood’s 8th grade environmental classes are working on is learning about the biodiversity of the school’s urban campus.
“We started with bees,” says Wood. “How do the pollinators fit together with plants? We trapped a sampling of campus bees and sent them to a local scientist. We found that the campus had 57 kinds of bees, all of which have different niches. The kids will do a research paper on them. Are certain bees specialists about certain flowers? Using Excel [software], the kids will be able record data and to see patterns. One of my students said he was impressed to find that, ‘Even small animals like bees can have a big ecological impact.’