As the use of smart technology from light bulbs to thermostats helps reduce costs and improve efficiency in schools, educators are incorporating these tech trends into classroom lessons to enhance the green learning experience. Here are just a few reasons why green schools are the future of education.
Enhanced energy lessons
A green school building can become a lesson in itself. As more people adopt smart technology in their homes, so have schools, particularly those with a mission of going greener—enabling students and teachers to learn about and implement energy-saving best practices.
An energy-efficient school has the opportunity to use its building as a teaching tool, showcasing the impact of technology and design and incorporating those features into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) lessons. Use of digital devices, smart projectors, and interactive imagery can help cut down on paper waste and provide a learning opportunity about the importance of forests to the natural world. Pointing out how the lights go on when students enter the room or how natural lighting is harnessed can lead to lessons about energy use, carbon emissions, and the ozone layer.
Lessons on resource use
Students can learn important lessons about the consumption of resources, including wastewater, classroom materials, and building materials. These lessons can teach them to think critically about reusing items and creative ways people are using materials to build environmentally-friendly and sustainable housing and businesses. Students can learn about the strain on landfills and the importance of recycling and the life cycle of products they use every day.
Green schools that use water-conserving technology have an excellent opportunity to teach children about the ways drinking water is wasted, how the availability of water resources impact people around the world, and the ways climate change can impact water worldwide.
Resources diverted from buildings to students
Green technology also reduces the cost of building operations and maintenance in the long run, allowing education leaders to direct more resources into educational programs instead. Schools can save money on paper printing costs and reduce the amount of paper waste by turning to the use of Chromebooks. Digital textbooks can reduce waste and cut the cost of stacking up thirty or forty new books in each classroom every year.
Smart HVAC systems can adjust temperatures automatically depending on the season and room use, reducing the amount of energy consumed. Smart sensors can help maintenance workers stay ahead of large equipment repairs, preventing breakage and the impact of disposing of broken equipment. Lighting, typically a significant energy cost for schools, can be reduced dramatically by the use of smart bulbs or by capturing natural daylight. After all, school leaders would much rather spend money on adding teachers or programs rather than having to cut them to keep the lights on.
Improved academic performance
Changing the lighting in a classroom to mimic the way natural light behaves throughout the day creates an environment that improves student alertness. Green schools accomplish this by utilizing natural daylight as much as possible through building design and smart LED bulbs. For students in Korea, “cooler” light created with smart LED bulbs supported active academic activities like test-taking, and warmer light supported a shift to relaxation and recess activities.
Additionally, adjusting temperatures inside the classroom can also benefit student performance. A National Bureau of Economic Research study found that students in frequently warm classrooms performed more poorly than students who had consistent access to air conditioning. Even those who retook tests performed worse the second time if the temperature was hotter. A smart HVAC system can provide schools with energy-efficient heating and cooling, ensuring a more consistent learning environment for its students and a reduced carbon footprint.
Better student health
Students can’t perform well if they’re unable to attend school at all. Green schools can improve the health and attendance of their students by improving indoor air quality. Common and chronic health problems like asthma can keep kids out of school, and buildings with better ventilation along with paint and carpet containing low VOC (volatile organic compounds) can help both kids and staff stay healthy.
The benefits of green schools will be far-reaching in terms of student learning and environmental literacy, which in turn will benefit communities by producing young graduates who are better equipped to adapt to and develop an environmentally-conscious and eco-friendly world.