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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

Designing Sustainable Schools the real costs associated with a construction project are in staff time, especially for the professional educators such as superintendents and principals who are taken away from their roles as educational leaders to assume facility management oversight. Transparency. Superintendents who committed to transparency in a building project received the support of the community in the short term. In the long-term, transparency yielded additional trust in the capabilities of the superintendent to lead. Regardless of the length of a superintendent’s tenure, superintendents were highly regarded in all districts where the triple bottom line approach was delivered transparently. “The superintendent is the one who stands in front of the taxpayers and talks about what went right and what went wrong.” This superintendent’s definition of transparency is about as good as it gets. While it is a simple task when all is going well, a superintendent who fears reporting what went wrong may find the task less appealing. Superintendents’ Attitude toward Sustainability The superintendents who equated sustainability with environmentalism found sustainable practices difficult to accept, let alone to endorse. For this reason, a triple bottom line approach to sustainability was more acceptable to superintendents who were charged with erecting buildings that would be high performance schools, be cost effective, and also would be environmentally sustainable. A triple bottom line priority filter assisted superintendents in determining the value of sustainable initiatives: Is it good for the education of our children? Is it good for the environment? Finally, can we afford to do this? Or, conversely, can we afford not to do this? Leadership. Leadership is the key to greening America’s schoolhouses. An understanding of sustainability and appreciation for environmental responsibility distinguished superintendents as leaders and effective stewards. One superintendent exhibited a solid understanding of his role in the construction of his sustainable high school, “Never lose sight of the ultimate objective—the school must be designed to enhance the opportunities for students in the community. The better I do that, the greater the sense of credibility and trust.” In order to complete a green project, one superintendent advised, “Make the decision early and stick to it. Be unwavering.” The new high schools in two districts in this multiple case study effectively demonstrated how it is possible for a superintendent with a strong commitment to social justice; a positive attitude toward environmental issues and a strategy for acquiring a strong knowledge base contributed to the construction of sustainable buildings in small, conservative communities. Inside and out, these buildings reflected the values of their respective communities and it was the superintendent who constructed and articulated this vision for the community. In no small manner, the values of this superintendent are apparent: My passion has been social justice; and add that to public education. . . . When I think about all those elements coming together . . . stewardship of the world we live in seems to be a very important part of our obligation. We’ve been given this opportunity to take care of it, and we squander it. So that’s really been the core of who I am that led into LEED® certification. The real core is that we’ve got a responsibility to preserve the environment. Ecological worldview. The superintendents in this study did not identify themselves as avid environmentalists, indicating that they were either unsure or slightly positive in their attitudes toward environmental issues by their responses to the New Ecological Paradigm Scale December 2012 / ACEF 64


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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