Congratulations to Boston Latin School! The U.S. Department of Education has selected BLS as one of its 2014 Green Ribbon Schools! The prestigious award recognizes exemplary schools and districts working to ensure that “students learn to live, work, and play with sustainability and health in mind, not as an afterthought, but as an integral part of everything they undertake, from cradle to career.”
Posted below is a summary of Boston Latin School’s inspiring, ambitious and innovative approach. Studio G Architects has been proud to collaborate with the students, faculty, staff and BLS community to help transform their school into a model of innovation in education and sustainable design. Stay tuned for updates as the Green Roof and other exciting projects move forward!
Through Education for Sustainability, Youth Can Make a Difference!
Boston Latin School (BLS), founded in 1635, is the oldest public school in the country, and the largest school in the Boston Public School district, serving 2,400 students in grades 7–12. Seven years ago, BLS students founded the Youth Climate Action Network (YouthCAN). It is a very active after-school club that has implemented transformative sustainability initiatives at the school and throughout the community — resulting in powerful youth leadership, sweeping facilities and school-wide curriculum changes, extensive outreach and partnerships, and community service that is unparalleled in the region.
BLS students and staff are working toward education for sustainability – engaging youths in hands-on learning opportunities that build environmental literacy, develop critical thinking skills, and benefit the community. YouthCAN has conducted sustainability education and outreach in the community, maintaining numerous partnerships with youth organizations, academic institutions, businesses, and public officials in the Greater Boston area. Students organize free sustainability events that serve dozens of schools and organizations in the community every year, including a Climate Summit that brings hundreds of youths together to learn about and take action on issues such as transportation access, water conservation, and food systems.
Outdoor raised vegetable gardens, student-designed rain catchment systems, rooftop weather stations, a SAGE vertical garden in the cafeteria, a rooftop solar array, a state-of-the-art hydroponic vegetable farm, a $75,000 energy lighting retrofit saving 200,000 kWh of energy per year, and a Lucid real-time building energy dashboard are just a few examples of the hands-on learning components for which students have fundraised and that they have implemented at the school.
In addition to technology and infrastructure improvements, YouthCAN has initiated educational and health programs for teachers and students alike. The school’s Farm to School program reaches 2,400 students every Thursday with local food, green bean costumes, promotional t-shirts, and more. The club also has launched a schoolwide “Get Informed” speaker series to raise awareness and improve health. Two sustainability-focused professional-development programs reached 50 educators and resulted in new sustainability lesson plans for schools across Massachusetts. The BLS’ Annual Teach-In has tripled student demand for environmental courses, and ensured that sustainability education is incorporated into all grades and across disciplines. In addition, for the past three summers, BLS has helped host and fund the Summer Green Jobs Energy Audit program, resulting in youth-led energy audits at high schools around Boston. In 2012, participants were eligible for energy-saving retrofit funds for their school, which was made possible by an E2 Energy to Educate grant.
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