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Hamilton school's groundbreaking eco-classroom

Hamilton school's groundbreaking eco-classroom opens its doors

A Hamilton school will unveil a groundbreaking ‘green’ project this week [Friday December 11] – New Zealand’s first eco-classroom to be designed and managed by the students themselves.

Three Hukanui Primary School students, representing the past, present and future, will formally open the award-winning Living Room by cutting a plaited flax ribbon. All students and supporters will then have the opportunity to look round the new classroom with student guides who will explain what the project has achieved.

The Living Room is the culmination of four years’ work by students, teachers and local community sponsors. “This innovative project led by our students has been a wonderful opportunity for real-life learning in an authentic context,” said school principal David Mossop. “And it’s been fantastic for the children to work alongside community experts.”

The new classroom has an ecological footprint just half the size of a normal classroom – thanks to a design which makes the most of natural sunlight and heat, reuses rain water, and uses environmentally friendly building materials.

“The building faces north so the students designed macrocarpa pergolas angled to let in the winter sun and keep out the summer heat,” explains the project’s champion Michelle White, who’s the school’s specialist environmental education teacher. “The kids also chose the interior wall insulation – a 100% environmentally friendly polyester product that they helped install.”

All the way through the project, the primary school students have been directly involved in coming up with the concept, briefing the architect, developing the drawings, researching eco-friendly building materials and ideas, fundraising, and selecting a project manager. They’ve also be involved in some of the construction work, including making their own clay bricks and laying an unusual insulating flooring base using old wine bottles.

Last month, the project won a Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Merit Award, worth $1,000, for the best and most innovative collaboration between students, teachers and volunteer engineers.

For background information on the project, take a look at this YouTube video produced by one of the Living Room's sponsors, WWF --

More details are available at


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