FOUR PILLARS FOR HEALTHY, SUSTAINABLE SCHOOLS
A school should be a thought–built good–time place for happy children—with some light overhead, the school building should regard the children as a garden in the sun.
—Frank Lloyd Wright
If we were to attempt to envision what the elements of a green and healthy schools system would be, it might help to actually think of it as a building (a living, green building of course, that has used all the most sustainable construction materials and techniques, a Frank Lloyd Wright garden in the sun!).
The cornerstone or foundation of the building is the Precautionary Principle—the basis of decision–making. Grounded in this foundation let us examine four pillars that together could support the concept of a sustainable school.
These pillars are in a sense the proactive corollary or the logical extension of the Precautionary Principle—they flow naturally upward from the foundation. They represent four forward–thinking categories, which we can use as tools to envision transforming our schools. They are:
Within each of these categories there are dozens of subjects that can be addressed (see Chart). Of course, the pillars are an artificial construction, and there is much interconnection and overlap among the various subjects assigned to each. And while the idea of taking it all on at once may seem overwhelming at a glance, the good news is that within each category that a pillar represents, there are literally thousands of fabulous ongoing efforts being carried out by teachers, parents, students, janitors, secretaries, principals, school districts, school boards, non–profit organizations and government officials. Each one alone is a wonderful example; together they make up a fabulous mosaic of possibility and synergy. The rest of this paper attempts to define the green school issues in each of these categories, while also capturing the essence of that mosaic.