EDITOR’S NOTE: We want to learn how other organizations approach sustainability, so we’ve decided to publish a series of posts featuring innovative companies and people who are doing their part to support our planet. See below to read a guest blog from Mary Ann Greene, the Founding Director of The da Vinci School in Dallas, Texas. The school is a past Green Mountain Energy Sun Club® recipient.
What is The da Vinci School’s mission, and how does sustainability fit into it?
The da Vinci School serves very young children from 18 months through kindergarten with a well-rounded, science-based curriculum. We also reach into the community with parent and child educational programs beginning at birth. Our LEED Gold facility was constructed for the health of the children and the environment. We are happy to share what we did with others in the community so that our education and commitment reaches far beyond the walls of our building. Being a science-based school, we believe awareness of the environment is a natural part of our curriculum. We hope to make sustainable practices a natural part of the daily lives of our students and their families now and into the future.
Can you explain your sustainability efforts and goals?
We constructed a LEED Gold facility with the idea of making it a truly healthy building for all of the inhabitants and the surrounding environment. Even before building our current facility, we recycled and used safe, fragrance-free cleaners, no scented products or perfumes, zero-voc paints, filtered water, organic snacks, high-filtration vacuums, etc.
We currently generate alternative sources of energy with solar panels and a wind turbine. We have a 28,000-gallon rainwater collection system that supplies irrigation for our drought tolerant and native landscape. We do not use any toxic pesticides. Our building is flooded with natural light, and every room has operable windows. We selected building products that would not require maintenance or removal with toxic products. We have a large recycling bin on our property and recycling throughout the facility. Every aspect of the property was thought through, building materials were researched and we even consulted with a physician who specializes in environmental medicine so that we had a model facility.
Why is sustainability important to The da Vinci School? How do your students participate?
We want our children – and all children – to learn in a healthy environment. The health of the children and the environment in which they spend their days has life-long benefits.
As a school, we have several community events each year. We are on the neighborhood garden tour; we open our doors during the regional solar tour; we have given presentations with local realtor groups and at state-wide expos about our “green” school; and we meet with leaders in other schools who want to replicate some of our practices in their schools.
What advice would you give other organizations that are trying to get their sustainability initiatives off the ground?
The leadership must be totally committed and they must share their passion by educating the employees who use the facility daily.
Are you a business?
To read about more businesses and people focused on sustainability, visit our “Sustainability Stories” archive by clicking here.