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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Green School rating system

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The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) has set specific norms for the construction of school buildings in environment friendly ways. It has also developed a rating system for schools as well. Thus the IGBC addresses not only the design of school buildings and various aspects of environment friendly constructions; it also includes functioning of schools in context of environment. What is IGBC?

The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is a part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). It was formed in the year 2001. It is a committee based organization with a vision to enable building of an environment sustainable for all thereby facilitating India to be one of the Global Leaders in building the sustainable environment by 2025.

Now it is properly understood that children need to understand the harmful effects that degradation of environment can have on this planet and thus our children can be able to prevent degradation of environment by making informed decisions from an early age.

Environmental Education
Today Environmental Education needs to be included in school curricula as a compulsory subject. Though environmental aspects have been infused in different subjects, they just pollute the pure spirits of those subjects and the doing components lack badly due to those subjects being not based of activities. Without activity, research etc the aspects of environment can neither be understood properly nor can conservation measures be planned and implemented in any ways. A Green Rated school should spur interest and spread awareness among students through classroom and outdoor learning. The IGBC has introduced a school rating system which advocates a number of eco-friendly policies. For example norms fixed by IGBC under energy efficiency look into the usage of energy efficient electric appliances, natural light and ventilation and capturing solar potential. Points are awarded in accordance to the quantum of energy savings generated. This ensures not only an eco-friendly building but saves the running electricity costs for the management of the school also.

Indoor quality norms
The IGBC has also fixed norms for the quality of indoor environment. These norms address cleanliness of toilets, use of non-toxic paints on walls and windows etc and applications of dust free chalk in the classrooms.. This will ensure that children are educated in a healthy environment. Adequate indoor and outdoor play areas are also expected to be planned properly. The rating system for this field requires separate toilets for boys and girls. Our governments too are stressing in this area seriously and allocating funds to construct in all the schools run by them.

Treatment and re-use of waste water
The green school norms fixed by IGBC advocates effective treatment and re-use of waste water along with the use of fixers with low flow rates to conserve water. Water meters should be fixed with water pipelines. It can help children monitor how much water is used by students. The measure of conservation of water should also be demonstrated to them. One example in this regard is pipe waste water from sinks provided within each classroom through a grease trap into the planters placed outside on window sill of the same classroom. This ensures that the plants are watered everyday and the grey water from the sink is not wasted.

Waste management norms
The norms fixed by IGBC for waste water management in schools advocate provisions for separate bins for paper, plastics, organic waste; and collection of organic waste collected periodically.
Children should bring their own recyclable and re-usable waste to create sculptures or to build tree gardens or benches within the campus. Another feature of the IGBC Green School rating system is accessible facilities for students and teachers with disabilities.

Green Committees
In order to encourage echo-friendly measures schools should form Green Committees. These committees should encourage participation of schools in environmental awareness programmes and campaigns within schools and outside.

The rating system provides tangible cost saving in the forms of electricity and water at one hand and an opportunity to stand out and address one of the foremost concerns faced by the world today.
The schools that are already taking up green measures can now use the rating system to comprehensively integrate into pedagogy as well as administration and in this process add the Green School stamps to their names.

Key Words: IGBC, Environmental Education, waste

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