A Sustainable Way of Life Becomes the Curriculum! Part 3

Imagine. An elementary school and the surrounding neighborhoods joining  together to become  a sustainable community with the school at its heart. Part 3

Working Together to Get to a Zero Carbon Emissions Lifestylegone green

The “Gone Green” Neighborhood Renovation program continues to transform energy inefficient homes into zero emission homes.

The “Whole Home Audit” documents the existing water and energy consumption of each home as well as the homeowner’s financial status and comes up with a comprehensive plan that works for the owners as well as the surrounding neighbors. Two man teams of students conduct home surveys and get amazing hands on experience of the challenges residents face. Working with an architect mentor, the homeowners and  the student teams, they come up with three different options,  which eventually get turned into the “Gone Green Action Plan”.

Single-story homes often have been granted zoning variances to allow the neighborhood to go mixed use. Commercial and residential additions and resulting revenue streams are tailored to fit, ensuring a retirement plan that gives great comfort to each household. The local residents not only get to retire in familiar surroundings, but in many cases, their home’s equity is converted into their retirement funds and the neighborhood gets a mixed-use community. The resulting walkable pedestrian-friendly streets are alive and safe with neighbors out and about. Kids bicycle everywhere and families enjoy the affordability of viable one-car families. Mass transit, the train and car-share services are affordably available to all, and based on usage, are highly successful.

The “Gone Green” program has also evolved into a local bank… where the neighborhood gets to invest in their community. Loans for solar hot water and electricity have transformed the utility bills. The school’s curriculum demonstrates and teaches classes on the latest energy and water-saving devices and strategies.

Neighborhood homes have wireless meters installed on all water and energy appliances and each home has an electronic screen readout, so residents see their usage. Usage is way down, and neighbors meet regularly to brainstorm with students on what new strategies to implement next to reach their much anticipated goal of a zero carbon emissions lifestyle.

The school led the way by planning and redesigning its water and energy systems. Water is captured, recycled and reused throughout the community. All the savings have allowed the neighborhood’s population to grow without the need for any new water.

Recirculating pumps and the biomass district heating, augmented with solar collectors, have also been an amazing conservation program.

Four mini laundromats have been incorporated into the community. Parents and students can have a latte, read or go shopping at the corner general store while their clothes are being washed in the conveniently located facilities with state-of-theart highly efficient machines. Waste heat is used to warm attached greenhouses.


All kinds of opportunities here! How would you lower your carbon contribution and help make sustainable real?

Part 1  Part 2  



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