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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

Barbara Klocko The ACEF Journal Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012, pp. 57-76 Designing Sustainable Schools: The Emergent Role of Superintendent as Sensemaker View PDF Abstract The impact of the superintendent in the design decision-making process of sustainable school buildings was examined in this case study analysis of the attitudes and influences of superintendents in six Midwestern school districts that engaged in construction projects during the previous five years. The major findings of this study are: (a) Leadership is the key to greening America’s schoolhouses; (b) Superintendents are inadequately prepared for dealing with issues regarding sustainability; (c) Superintendents who utilized sensemaking as a decision- making strategy yielded high-quality decisions; and (d) Superintendents who could articulate a vision of triple bottom line sustainability which incorporated the environmental, educational, and economic principles of sustainability were viewed by constituents as effective stewards. This purposeful sampling provided rich data to support three distinct motivations for building green—social or educational, environmental, and economic. Today, superintendents mindful of the triple bottom line regarding sustainability are leading the way toward a sustainable future. Keywords: sensemaking, sustainability, superintendents, educational facility design, green schools When there is a need for a building and the design and construction team remains loyal to the expression of that need, we see ecological and humane buildings rise from the earth. These buildings provide homes that keep our families safe and warm. These buildings contain schools for our children to learn, centers where we can heal, and places to work (Altes, 2007). Leaders of America’s public schools are in a position to deliver one of the most effective and expedient responses to global climate change by designing schools that support sustainable energy practices. Sustainability is an appropriate and perhaps fundamental approach for superintendents to implement as they lead—for our children, our environment, and our economic strength. Henderson and Tilbury (2004) claimed that sustainability has redefined the role of schools and schools’ relationships with the community, emphasizing the perception of schools “as a focal point where children, adults and the community interact and learn together” (p. 8). Data presented will provide superintendents with the knowledge and skills necessary to act as an informed decision-maker in planning and designing the spaces where children learn (Duke, 1998; Lackney, 1999). It is imperative that school leaders contribute not only to the dialogue regarding the principles of sustainable living, but also to the long-term integration of sustainability into all issues related to educational achievement. “Facilities that place a priority on improving students’ learning environments can save energy, resources, and money, but more importantly, there exists a correlation between sustainable buildings and improved student performance” (Olson & Kellum, 2003, p. 7). 57


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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