The Indian Green Building Council has launched an eco-rating system exclusively for schools.

With green buildings the norm in construction today, the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is taking it a step further by launching a rating system for schools. The norms of the ‘IGBC Green Schools’ rating are relatively easy to follow, addressing not only the building design and construction aspects but also the functioning of the school.

If we want to preserve the future of our planet, we need to turn to our future generations for help. Environmental sensitivity needs to start early to be most effective and beneficial to humanity. Our children need to understand the harmful effects that environmental degradation can have on earth and be able to prevent them by making informed decisions from an early age.

Schools are a major influence on children. Today, environmental issues are not something that can be ignored and environmental education needs to be integrated into the school curriculum. And a school that is labelled as being ‘green rated’ will spur interest and spread awareness among its children.

The IGBC Green Schools rating system advocates multiple eco-friendly policies. The norms under energy efficiency look into the usage of energy efficient electrical appliances, natural light and ventilation and capturing solar potential. Points are awarded in accordance to the amount of energy savings generated. This not only ensures an eco-friendly building but also saves running electricity costs for the school management.

Indoor environmental quality norms address cleanliness of toilets, use of non-toxic paints/finishes and use of dust-free chalk. This ensures that the children are in a healthy indoor environment. Adequate indoor and outdoor play areas are also expected to be planned. The rating system requires separate toilets for boys and girls as well.

The green school norms advocate effective treatment and reuse of waste water along with use of fixtures with low flow rates to conserve water. Water meters help children monitor how much water they use. One example of water conservation that can be demonstrated to them is to pipe waste water from the sinks provided within each classroom through a grease trap into the planters placed outside on the window sill of the same classroom. This ensures that the plants are watered everyday and the grey water from the sink is not wasted.

Waste management norms advocate separate bins for paper, plastic and organic waste and composting of organic waste collected periodically.

Children can be encouraged to bring their own recyclable and reusable waste to create sculptures or build tree guards or benches within the campus.

Accessible facilities for children and teachers with disabilities are another feature of the IGBC Green Schools rating system.

As part of green education norms, green committees are being advocated within schools, which will encourage the above eco-friendly measures. The committee will also encourage school participation in environmental awareness programmes and campaigns both within the school and outside.

Other than tangible cost savings in the form of electricity and water savings, the rating system provides schools an opportunity to stand out and address one of the foremost concerns faced by the world today. Schools that are already taking up green measures can now use the rating system to comprehensively integrate environmental sustainability into pedagogy as well as administration and in this process add the ‘Green School’ stamp to their name.

The writer is an architect, LEED® Accredited Professional (AP) and a Certified GRIHA Trainer