Small footprint, big impact
16 June 2008
Small footprint, big impact
Children at a Hamilton primary school are aiming to halve their ecological footprint by building New Zealand’s first eco-classroom.
The group of 30 eight- to ten-year-olds from Hukanui Primary School have a clear vision for the kind of classroom they’d like to have. Starting in 2005, more than 100 Hukanui students have researched eco-friendly building materials and worked with Hamilton architect Antanas Procuta on the design to ensure it’s as sustainable as possible.
“I really like this project because no-one has done it in New Zealand before,” said Molly Densem, aged ten. “I’ve learnt so much since I got involved, it’s great for the environment and it could be a big hit around the world.”
Principal David Mossop said the idea for the project came from students who wanted a special place to display their work, hold events and host visitors.
“As a Green/Gold Enviroschool, we’ve done a lot of work on restoring our school gully and reducing our waste. The children thought it was time to take the next step into the classroom, and look at ways we could create a more sustainable environment for learning. They’ve really driven this project, and it’s been a fantastic learning experience for everyone.”
The children have come up with a design that utilises sustainably-harvested timber, a concrete floor to retain heat, natural light and ventilation, double-glazing and pergolas on the west and north sides. Solar heating will be used to heat the nearby school pool, and rainwater will be collected from the roof for a native garden.
Research by the children shows the proposed eco-classroom will have an ecological footprint half the size of a normal classroom.
Environmental education teacher Michelle White said the project provided a real-world opportunity for learning. “The in-depth investigation and learning in an authentic context has encouraged the children to take ownership of this project as well as make positive environmental changes in their everyday lives.”
The students’ task now is to find the money to turn their vision into a reality, and they’re kicking off their fundraising efforts with a Green Lunch at the school next Thursday [19 June].
They’ve already signed up Sport Waikato CEO and former All Black Matthew Cooper as MC, while Ecostore founder Malcolm Rands will speak at the lunch.
Guests at the lunch will hear a presentation from the children on their plans for the eco-classroom, and then will take part in a Noisy Round Robin – one of the techniques used by the students to develop thinking skills.
The project has already attracted the support of many local businesses, including Antanas Procuta Architects, Holcim Concrete, JA Russell Electrical Supplies, Laser Electrical, Chris Lucas Water Tanks, Eco-Insulation and Lee Roofing. Fonterra has also made a donation towards costs.