Start Them Young: Motessori Students Achieve LEED Certification for Their School

Start Them Young: Motessori Students Achieve LEED Certification for Their School

Ruffing Montessori, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, recently renovated its building and made it into a state-of-the-art green building which has been certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) by the U.S. Building Council and the Green Building Certification (USGBC) Institute.
The facility has a geo-thermal system that provides efficient heating and cooling; photovoltaic (solar) panels that produce power equivalent to the operating requirements of the geo-thermal system, a living roof for insulation and energy conservation (shown in picture above), high efficiency lighting, energy efficient windows, sun tubes, solar shades, fabric ductwork, low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, carpet tiles and glues, natural flooring materials, energy efficient appliances, rain barrels, waterless urinals, controlled hand and towel dispensers, and much more.

In its policies and practices, the school promotes recycling, composting, rainwater reuse in classroom gardens, green procurement, non-toxic cleaning products, and no-waste lunches.

This school has taken the initiative to create the healthiest possible place for students, teachers, and staff to learn and work.

Ruffing earned points for sustainability from every possible aspect of eco-friendliness: from its site selection to water efficiency, energy performance, reused and recycled materials and resources, indoor environment quality and innovation in design. The school even earned bonus points for its innovative green curriculum, school-wide green initiatives and for exemplary use of recycled materials throughout the new construction project.

While many of the school’s features can be found in other LEED Certified buildings, Ruffing is unique because it has created its own green curriculum which sets it apart from other schools. Such an environmentally conscious curriculum gained it recognition in 2009 of the Norhteast Ohio Environmental Award, given by the Biodiversity Alliance for “innovative curriculum that permeates the whole school.”

The school has developed a very specific sequenced curriculum, created copyrighted activity-based Montessori-style materials, and uses the building’s green features as a working lab. So on every age level, students are introduced to increasingly more complex ideas centered on sustainability, stewardship, and individual responsibility. Beginning with its youngest students, toddlers, and continuing through eight grade, the program teaches ways energy can be consumed more efficiently and how human choices help or harm the planet.

The LEED Project team includes architect Rick Parker, Denk Associates, eQuest Strategies, Facilities Management Concepts, Inc., Ogrinc Mechanical Corporation, Panzica Construction Company, and Ruffing Board President Mike Shout.

Such a list shows collaborative effort which is no doubt difficult, but the rewards are even higher than the time and effort it took to plan, implement, build, and maintain both the building and the educational content because the children who attend such an innovative school will truly become the future leaders who will protect the earth and their health.

Hopefully, such a model of green policies, practices, and curriculum will be adopted by other Montessori schools as well as by many other private and public educational institutions.

Any teacher, student, or parent, administrator interested in contacting Ruffing Montessori to find out more about how to make a switch to healthier and greener practices, please contact Ruffing Montessori.
ruffingmontessori.net