There is a growing trend toward building “green schools” which promote the environmental, but also economic and social, sustainability of the communities they support through design strategies such as green roofs and geothermal heating, but also programmatic components like urban
farming and student-run cafes. In many cases, the educational goals of the academic institution drive innovative and sustainable construction practices which serve as a “living laboratory” for students. This
research begins with case studies of sustainable learning environments, from pre-K facilities to Universities, with particular attention paid to sustainable design strategies and student engagement
in the design process. The project then analyzes the specific priorities of Great River Montessori Junior/Senior High in St. Paul and proposes a “sustainable” design based on the school’s interpretation of Maria Montessori’s educational philosophy and input from students, faculty and staff. The next step will be an evidence-based research project, which will examine the possibilities for schools to maximize potential for students to learn about
sustainable systems through the design, construction, and maintenance of learning environments.