For the last 15+ years, our Green Building Council movement has been dedicated to transforming our building and construction industry, to persuade industry at large to change their ways and shift towards sustainable building practices. If you ask any psychologist, persuading people to change is extremely challenging. And while we have made significant progress as a movement, you can’t help but think “What if we could start from scratch? What if building green was the only way we were taught from the start?”
So, when my colleague Colin Powell and I got a chance to try (being the operative word) to excite a classroom of school children during World Green Building Week around the ideas of green building, we jumped at the chance. We quickly learned that nothing puts your stakeholder engagement skills to the test like trying to keep the attention of a group of five-year-olds. But that’s not all we learned.
Firstly, I want to give kudos to those who have recognised the opportunity of ‘starting at the beginning’ and engaging young minds in green building. The Learning Lab created by the Centre for Green Schools (part of the US Green Building Council) gives teachers access to hands-on sustainability curriculum and resources that bring green building to life for students. It helps to ensure that future generations won’t need to be ‘transformed’, they will come ready and equipped to build green, with new and exciting ideas, and sustainability at heart.
The exciting part is that kids have such a passion for learning how the world works. They really eat this stuff up. From the green building ideas we presented, we could really see the gears of their minds turning when they saw that rain water can be captured to flush toilets, and the sun’s rays can be transformed by solar panels into the electricity that makes their lights turn on.
Kids also give us a lot to reflect on. They bring us back to the basics, and remind us that green building is based on the simplest ideas that nature has perfected millennia ago. Why shouldn’t a school building rely only on renewable resources and generate no waste? Critically, they have minds unpolluted by limitations which is the best way to innovate.
So, in the spirit of green building action this World Green Building Week, here’s our challenge to you. If you are reading this you’re very likely connecting to the green building industry in one way or another. Take what you know and let’s sow the seeds of future green builders. If you have children or young relatives, or know someone in your life who’s a teacher, why not see if you can share your ideas, experience, and knowledge of green building practices with them?
A special thanks to Mrs. Hetherington’s Kindergarten class from J.R. Wilcox Community School, in Toronto, for having us.
Dominika Czerwinska is Director of Membership and Regional Networks
For further information on green schools, visit the Center for Green Schools website
To find out more about World Green Building Week, click here.