“The research provides evidence that connecting with nature should be part of every child’s life – it has the potential to aid nature’s revival while benefiting the child.” Dr. Miles Richardson, University of Derby
Since its inception, The Grauer School has sought to raise generations of global citizens. When ground was broken at the school site in 2003, it was done with a promise to protect and preserve a fragile section of native California coastal habitat. You might say that environmental awareness and sustainability are in the school’s DNA.
The Grauer School is a “green campus,” certified by the “California Green Ribbon School” program. This means that our buildings and campus are designed not just as boxes to hold desks, but as real teaching tools. Some of our classes and campus features produce their own energy, harvest their own water, and contain no toxic materials.
LEED is a globally recognized symbol of excellence in green building, administered by the Green Building Certification Institute which is the certifying body of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several areas that address sustainability issues. Grauer’s newest buildings received the prestigious LEED Gold certification due to the inclusion of a whole-campus plan including solar panels on the rooftops, a highly-efficient HVAC system, a minimal building footprint and increased green space due to the 2-story structure, parking for fuel-efficient vehicles, water-efficient landscaping and plumbing, low-emitting materials, and sophisticated lighting.
The school also received points for using its campus as a teaching tool by integrating the sustainable features of the facility with its educational mission. The Grauer campus features two gardens, a greenhouse, an orchard, a hydroponic garden and fish tank, and a two-acre wildlife preserve with marked walking trails. Vegetables, fruits, and herbs from the school’s gardens are used regularly in the teaching kitchen. Classes are often conducted outdoors around campus, including in an outdoor classroom space composed of a circle of tree stumps in the wildlife preserve area.
The Green Grauer Program helps the school focus its (sustainable efforts) in food, water, energy, waste, and conservation. To promote a sustainable community, we will educate and learn through curricular investigation, institutional action and commitment to individual and collaborative behavioral change.
Gardens have been started and incorporated into curricular programs. Students will manage garden and orchard produce from seed to harvest, explore the sustainable economics of locally-grown food and prepare cooked dishes, in our newly built learning kitchen. We have CSA boxes delivered weekly to our campus. Families are able to sign up and take home fresh and seasonal fruits, vegetables, and flowers delivered to us by an organic farmer from Escondido. Our students and faculty have the option to order lunch from Ki’s, a local restaurant that prides themselves on being environmentally and community conscious.
The school will look to continue to reduce its waste output by recapturing green waste in our compost and vermi-compost systems. A consistent recycling system with separate bins for bottles/cans and paper is going to be constructed by our environmental science class and installed in high traffic areas, to encourage student, faculty and staff participation.
The Grauer School also offers an Environmental Science class for our high school students. This class gives students a background in the history and issues of environmental science, allows them to explore how the earth is an interconnected system, helps them imagine how humans can develop sustainable systems, and allows them to create positive change in their school and community. Students will learn to use their science background to inform the decisions they make as they care for the school’s composting, garden, greenhouse, orchard and vermi-composting system. Students work closely with staff and volunteers to help enact the Green Grauer mission of sustainability in energy, food, water, and waste.
Grauer has a long tradition of environmental stewardship: our students take part in the Blue Water Task Force, the UNESCO Teen Eco-stewards Program, and the San Elijo Lagoon partnership. But with the support of active parents, our program has reached the next level! Many parents have expressed the desire to collaborate with our teachers and students in advancing our long-held dream of a sustainable, green campus, and we invite anyone to join this new organization as we improve an already great program. We plan on having monthly meetings and coordinating parent volunteers to help student groups lead greening projects around campus.
Green Grauer is an important component of the education our students receive at The Grauer School.