A school in Hong Kong and one in Kenya have been named the greenest schools on Earth for 2013.
Sing Yin Secondary School in Hong Kong and Uaso Nyiro Primary School in Laikipia, Kenya were honored earlier this month at the World Green Building Council Annual Congress in Capetown, South Africa.
The Global Coalition for Green Schools, an initiative of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council and the World Green Building Council, announced the awards. Each school has been given $5,000 to use for a new or ongoing sustainability project.
The award is meant to go to just one school, but the judges felt that both campuses deserved recognition.
“We selected both of these schools because of what they say about one another and also about the scale and scope in the movement,” says Rick Federizzi, president of the Green Building Council. “They demonstrate that across the world, from community to community and from city to village, no matter where we learn, where we learn matters.”
To select the greenest schools, judges look for institutions that are making progress toward efficient use of resources and reduced environmental impact; enhanced health and learning among students, teachers and staff; and a greater emphasis on sustainability and resource-conservation education.
The Sing Yin Secondary School, whose students come from mostly low-income families, has an organic farm, two green roofs, a bamboo corner and an aquarium. Most classrooms are equipped with thin-film solar panels or sun-shading devices, advanced LED lighting, light sensors and motion sensors, the Center for Green Schools says.
Every year, about 100 students serve as environmental monitors, prefects and ambassadors. Last year, they organized a “Green School, Green Family” campaign in which students and their families carried out energy-saving activities to save household electricity.
The Uaso Nyiro Primary School was honored for its Waterbank School Building. It is an alternative low-cost school designed for poor regions in need of water. Built from local materials with local labor for the same cost as a conventional linear school, the facility stores and filters clean water for the children year round, provides protected gardens for growing fresh vegetables and includes a community workshop and courtyard theater for community gatherings and environmental theater.
The school serves a disadvantaged community; 25 percent live on less than $1.25 a day. Since the building has opened, school attendance has risen from 70 to 90 percent, and instances of waterborne disease have dropped to zero.