Eco-friendly schools take steps to provide environmentally-conscious facilities and programs. The term applies to colleges and universities as well as grade schools and other learning institutions. Some eco-friendly schools have taken measures to make individual classrooms more environmentally-friendly, and others have focused on entire buildings and campuses. Many schools receive certification from a government agency or other environmental group that classifies them as eco-friendly.
Methodology for eco-friendly schools varies from simple waste-reduction techniques to more complex methods. Some of the basic steps schools have taken to become more environmentally-conscious include school-wide recycling, using air-dryers instead of paper towels in restrooms, and composting discarded food from school lunches. Schools sometimes use alternative power sources as well.
Many eco-friendly schools undergo an examination of their power usage. By inspecting how much electricity they use, the schools can often identify ways to conserve energy. If items such as heaters or air-conditioners are inefficient, for instance, the school can replace them with more energy-friendly appliances.
Conservation is a major focus of eco-friendly schools. They often use energy-saving light bulbs and may utilize sunlight as a primary light source during the daytime hours. Some schools even employ waterless toilets. Using high-efficiency windows is another common step that can help retain cold air in the summer and warmth in the winter. The schools may install toilets that use less water as well.
Eco-friendly schools may renovate existing buildings or rooms to include more environmentally-sound aspects. Schools may also employ sustainable, locally produced materials when constructing new buildings or rooms because using local materials can reduce the pollution caused by long-distance transportation. Utilizing recycled metals and wood is also helpful in reducing waste.
Some eco-friendly schools choose to provide students with supplies that are better for the environment. Using recycled paper is common, and some schools attempt to reduce the use of paper by providing additional computers. Schools with young students may advocate the use of recycled pencils, biodegradable pens, organic crayons, and other environmentally-conscious supplies.
Transportation is also relevant for eco-friendly schools. Elementary schools may encourage kids to walk or ride a bicycle to school if they live nearby. A school may replace traditional school buses with versions that utilize bio-diesel or other less-polluting power sources. Eco-friendly colleges sometimes restrict the use of motorized vehicles on campus to reduce the pollution emitted by automobiles and motorcycles. Colleges and universities may also expand their public transportation systems to decrease pollution caused by individual vehicles.
In addition to reducing pollution and conservation efforts, schools may promote environmental initiatives. Some schools are considered environmentally-conscious because they include ecological lessons in their curriculums. Eco-friendly colleges may offer degrees in environmental science or other related fields as well.