"Greening From Top to Bottom on a Budget"
Cow Hollow Preschool
School Contact Information
Darcy Campbell, Administrator Dccowhollow2@aol.com Cow Hollow Preschool, San Francisco , Independent Under 500 Students
Darcy has over 23 years of experience working with teachers, families and children in the Bay Area. She has more than 17 years of Site Administration experience and has taught and learned from children three months to twelve years old. She teaches early childhood and elementary education courses at San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco.
The Green School Story
We addressed these 4 Pillars of a Green School
- Strive to be Toxics Free
- Use Resources Sustainably
- Create Green Schoolyards and Serve Healthy Food
- Teach Stewardship & Student Action
We have taken these steps from the 7 Steps to a Green School
- Adopt a policy
- Develop an action plan
- Integrate into the curriculum
Environmental Challenge or Goal Addressed
The school was slated to move from the Cow Hollow neighborhood in San Francisco to a historic building in the Presidio, and parents saw a unique opportunity to green the renovation of the new site, as well as address ongoing operational issues.
Our Green School Approach
Parents met with the school's Director and School Board President, who embraced greening. We invited Deborah Moore of the Green Schools Initiative to tour the site and make recommendations. We invited Deborah back to speak on a panel as part of a parent education night devoted to the issue of a Healthy School Initiative. A parent then put together a Healthy School Initiative, Green Buying Guidelines and Program Recommendations.
Changes and Benefits We've Achieved
We've implemented a Healthy Schools Initiative mission statement that defines both the school’s commitment “to improving the health of our children, staff, parents and the environment”; and the school's considerations: long-term and short-term costs, health impacts on children, staff and parents, environmental impacts, and consistency with school philosophy and values.
The site renovation included many green features: using less toxic materials like low VOC-paint and no PVC, purchasing less toxic toys and art supplies, using less toxic cleaning materials, creating a compost bin, recycling bins, including outdoor play and play and art materials from nature.
Parents and administrators working together.
How We Involved Students
Teachers incorporate environmental awareness, compassion for animals, and nature walks every day. The children in the 4-year-old program, for example, compost with great excitement. They have become actively engaged in collecting food scraps and soiled napkins and composting them in the worm bin, both reducing the amount of garbage and instilling in them a sense of stewardship and responsibility for keeping our planet healthy and safe.
Our Timeline for Change
Since Spring 2006
Resources We Used
Green Schools Initiative and many local vendors of environmentally friendly products.
Our Inspiration and Motivation
Two parents noticed that the school's new tablecloths were made of PVC, a toxic material. On a playdate with their daughters later, they discussed the issue and then agreed to green their daughters' preschool from top to bottom.
We hope to increase recycling; encourage waste-free lunches; spotlight sustainable transit to school (walking, carpooling, buses, cycling); consider renewable energy certificates to offset the school's energy use; and continue to educate parents about healthier, more sustainable lifestyles.
Our Advice to Other Schools
Don't assume you have to increase your budget to accomplish greening. In fact, energy efficiency at the new site is helping reduce operating costs (very high efficiency boiler system, energy efficient lighting). We have also been able to generate donations and discounts to help implement our efforts and overcome the possible obstacle of “it’s too expensive.” Costs of green renovation materials were comparable to conventional materials. We also try to buy from inexpensive, but environmentally-responsible companies (like IKEA, which is phasing out toxins like PVC and brominated flame retardants).