Tag Archives: united states green schools

Buildings: Global Consumption and Sustainability


I wanted to share these thoughts I wrote one night a few months ago when  the thoughts and data which were floating around in my head came together which is the primary purpose for my putting all this new energy into this blog and this career. It is more than a job, It is a mission:

Buildings: Global Consumption & Sustainability

When I was born there were 3 billion people on the earth. When I turned 40 there were 6 billion people on the earth. When my daughters turns 40 there will be over 12 billion people on the earth.

“If undeveloped countries consumed at the same rate as the US, four complete planets the size of the Earth would be required. Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy.”

At the current rate of population growth and human consumption at some point there is no debate the earth will not be able to supply the resources necessary to meet societies needs and our current rate of consumption.

At this inevitable rate of growth the time to act is now before it’s too late. If we continue to build homes that demand the current resources to build, maintain and operate our homes and commercial spaces the point on the graph where these two points meet will likely be in my lifetime but in most cases in my daughter’s lifetime and I cannot as a responsible parent and as a steward of the planet allow this to happen.

Building Science Digests

The construction and operation of buildings consumes over a third of the world’s energy consumption, and 40% of all the mined resources. Striving to make buildings more sustainable, while saving construction and operating costs and improving health and occupant well being is not only possible and practical, it should be the goal of the building industry. Achieving this goal requires an awareness of the problem and the skills to design, specify, construct, and operate buildings in a manner that is often quite different from current standard approaches. This digest will review the challenge of sustainability, discuss methods of assessing green buildings, and recommend a process by which more sustainable buildings can be delivered.

http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/digests/bsd-005-green-building-and-sustainability/

Consumption by the United States

In the United States:

Reducing consumption without reducing use is a costly delusion. If undeveloped countries consumed at the same rate as the US, four complete planets the size of the Earth would be required.

Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy.

On average, one American consumes as much energy as

2 Japanese

6 Mexicans

13 Chinese

31 Indians

128 Bangladeshis

307 Tanzanians

370 Ethiopians

The population is projected to increase by nearly 130 million people – the equivalent of adding another four states the size of California – by the year 2050.

Forty percent of births are unintended.

Americans eat 815 billion calories of food each day – that’s roughly 200 billion more than needed – enough to feed 80 million people.

Americans throw out 200,000 tons of edible food daily.

The average American generates 52 tons of garbage by age 75.

The average individual daily consumption of water is 159 gallons, while more than half the world’s population lives on 25 gallons.

Fifty percent of the wetlands, 90% of the northwestern old-growth forests, and 99% of the tall-grass prairie have been destroyed in the last 200 years.

Eighty percent of the corn grown and 95% of the oats are fed to livestock.

Fifty-six percent of available farmland is used for beef production.

Every day an estimated nine square miles of rural land are lost to development.

There are more shopping malls than high schools.

Other Facts:

250 million people have died of hunger-related causes in the past quarter-century — roughly 10 million each year.

700 to 800 million people, perhaps even as many as a billion, don’t get enough food to support normal daily activities

Africa now produces 27% less food per capita than in 1964.

1.7 billion people lack access to clean drinking water, and by the year 2000, the number of urban dwellers without access to safe water and sanitation services is expected to grow by 80%.

0.1% of pesticides applied to crops reaches the pest, the rest poisons the ecosystem.

Each year 25 million people are poisoned by pesticides in less developed countries, and over 20,000 die.

One-third of the world’s fish catch and more than one-third of the world’s total grain output is fed to livestock.

It takes an average of 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat in modern Western farming systems. It takes 5,214 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef.

Each person in the industrialized world uses as much commercial energy as 10 people in the developing world.

source: Paul Ehrlich and the Population Bomb / PBS

To our Healthy Homes. It is more than just a fleeting thought or idea. It is a mission.

Advertisements

Going Green : A Case Study


I LOVE case studies and success stories of how a group of teachers, parents and/or community leaders not only get it but GOT it done!

Check out how this Arrowhead High School Green Group structured their successful group almost completely ONLINE (how green) and made it work. Way to GO Arrowhead.

Although we still meet as a class at least once a week, all of the materials students need are online: we discuss and edit papers online, we talk about problems and solutions online, we read articles online, we take notes online, we watch videos online and we hold discussions online.

Within this form, students demonstrated learning and growth when they were able to:
•    Set and have a goal they can reach (that makes sense to them)
•    Be internally motivated
•    Be positively challenged
•    Be useful in the learning process
•    Be given a chance to practice what they’ve learned
•    Produce quality work they’re proud of
•    See the outcomes of their learning
•    Do something
•    Complete enjoyable assignments
•    Take charge of their learning
•    Become competent in the subject
•    Be partners with the teachers in their own learning
•    Evaluate their own learning and

•    GO GREEN!

Going Green at Arrowhead.

How to Start a Recycling Program at Your School


Recycling is one of the easiest and most traditional ways to have a positive impact on your environment and community. The simple act of tossing a can into a recycling bin rather than a trashcan not only diverts needless trash from entering landfills, but also decreases the need to extract and process virgin materials from the earth.  In this way, recycling saves natural resources and energy, thus helping the economy by reducing production and energy expenses.

Here is a great step by step path to going Green by starting with a recycling program at your school.  Why reinvent the wheel? Use this great step by step guide to getting your program started and share with me your successes and failures!

I am about to start one at my daughters’ school here in Chicago and really want to expand the idea just beyond a recycling program.

Why are we recycling? What are the implications for our planet and how will our efforts measurably impact our school, our community and the world?

If kids can undertand in some way (depending on their grade level) WHY they are doing something then I think it will go a long way towards their involvement with and their more complete understanding of why we should recycle (and re-use and reduce) our waste.

How to Start a Recycling Program at Your School.