Children are our future. However, climate change reality threatens theirs. Today’s youth need adults to take this threat seriously and make efforts to allay their fears. Many kids spend much of their waking lives in buildings riddled with environmental nightmares. For example, aging cracked windows that let heat escape, poor ventilation and inadequate lighting prevent learners from getting the most from their educational experience. Here are five reasons why we need more green schools for students.
1. To Keep Students Healthier
The COVID-19 pandemic made it apparent to everyone why indoor air quality matters. This disease and many others spread through fine respiratory droplets that can linger in filthy HVAC systems, potentially sickening far more people. It’s one explanation why teachers often catch every little bug their students bring to class.
Green schools employ technologies like heat pipe heat exchangers that improve indoor air quality while saving energy — and money. In addition, such systems provide 100% outdoor air, keeping airstreams separate and recovering energy from the exhaust.
Another green school feature that benefits student health and learning outcomes is adequate windows for ventilation. Moreover, exposure to natural light boosts mental focus and concentration, improving learning outcomes while giving children a breath of fresh air.
2. To Encourage Sustainable Behavior
Parents and teachers can recite “do as I say, not as I do” all day long without changing youth behavior much. Children learn through imitation, modeling their actions after the adults around them. Therefore, if they witness community leaders supporting more green schools, they’ll be more likely to join in the fight against climate change by choosing sustainable behaviors themselves.
Green schools present ample opportunities for teachable moments. For example, physics instructors in buildings run by solar power can introduce their students to the intricacies of how such systems work. They’ll encourage more interest in green energy, perhaps inspiring some of their learners to explore careers in the field.
Green schools also encourage recycling and carrying reusable water bottles by providing bins and limiting vending machines to ice water dispensers. The latter device also protects student health better than traditional drinking fountains — there’s no need to put their face near a germy spigot.
Children that develop these habits are more likely to carry them into adulthood. It takes time, but such measures slash the amount deposited into landfills each year.
3. To Train Tomorrow’s Green Leaders
Part of education’s job is to nurture tomorrow’s leaders. Green schools directly teach sustainability, inspiring many students into careers that give back to the planet.
These schools might feature a community garden that requires a collective effort from faculty and students. Facilities like these might inspire future agricultural equipment technicians and farmers who employ sustainable practices like no-till planting.
Others may go on to study environmental science, working for agencies and nonprofit organizations that advocate for greener policies. In addition, they could investigate the impact of various chemicals on marine life or improve ways to convert trash to biofuel for an endlessly renewable energy source.
4. To Promote Green Community Initiatives
Many schools serve as regional social hubs. Green schools are the ideal venues for bringing folks together and looking for ways to make their communities more sustainable.
For example, students and interested community members could raise funds to install more public recycling sorting centers to encourage residents to keep reusable goods out of landfills. Moreover, they can initiate park and beach cleanups to restore beauty and reduce litter in public spaces.
5. To Give the Next Generation Hope
Our children inherit the world we leave them. Is it any wonder that many young people fear that our present course will lead to an uninhabitable nightmare? Already, one-third of those under 45 say climate change factors into their decision not to have children. How sad is it to fear starting a family because you worry over your future kids’ fates?
Green schools give the next generation hope that the adults in their lives are not abandoning them to a superheated planet plagued by ever-worsening natural disasters. Moreover, every child deserves to grow up believing that things can become better with time — the alternative drives deaths of despair.
Why We Need More Green Schools
It’s incumbent upon adults to pave the way to a sustainable tomorrow, and schools can play a vital role. America needs more green schools. Together, parents and teachers can create a community of positive change.
Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.