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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

Designing Sustainable Schools This case study was not conducted to examine the newly constructed buildings or to advocate for sustainability practices; but rather I sought to examine how the superintendent thinks and acts with regard to sustainability in educational facilities planning, design, and construction. According to Stake (2010), “Advocacy may endanger research by getting in the way of skepticism” (p. 16). Definitions This study interconnects terminology from multiple disciplines in defining terms. For efficiency, I am providing succinct definitions for terms in the context in which I will be using them. Educational facilities (school facilities, school buildings) include any structure used by a school district to house students, staff, programs, services, or equipment. Educational facilities design is “the process and product of solving the architectural problem of how to produce a structure which will adequately meet the requirements of the school’s educational mission” (McMillin, 1994, p. 28). Educational facilities planning is a process for “making present decisions based upon their future impact” (Sanoff, 1977, p. 4). Nadler (1981) described it as a process “to determine appropriate future action through a sequence of informed choices” (p. 45). Green design and green schools are expressions that refer to the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings use resources — energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal. LEED® certification may be awarded to schools that meet certain criteria in these areas (U.S. Green Building Council, 2007). Sensemaking is regarded by Mumford, Fredrich, Caughron and Byrne (2007) as the cognitive act of taking in information, framing it, and using it to determine actions in a way that manages meaning for individuals. Sustainability refers to maintaining a system in balance: “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Washington State Department of Ecology, 2012). Sustainable development is a principle that states that economic growth (i.e., the generation of wealth) can and should be managed so that natural resources are used in such a way that the resource needs of future generations are assured (Weiss, 2007). Triple bottom line is a management approach whereby organizations are responsible to stakeholders for social, economic and environmental sustainability (Savitz, & Weber, 2006). Sustainability Greening our schools will require fundamental changes in foundational values, institutions, and ways of living. Few educators grasp the complex interconnections of sustainability, even though the notion links environmental resilience to social well-being and justice (O’Riordan, 2002). The environmental benefits of sustainability reaffirm the foundational mission of schools to promote social justice (Cubberley, 1920, Kats, 2006). Dewey (1916) proffered a concept of the role of democracy and governance, long before sustainability was part of the conversation, “A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, a conjoint communicated experience” (p. 87). Mullen (2008) December 2012 / ACEF 58


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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