Commitment to the environment is a core part of Paideia’s Framework of Values: the school encourages students to take responsibility for the environment and for advocating preservation and protection of the natural world. Paideia strives to teach students that we must meet the needs of the current generation without compromising the needs of future generations.
Paideia’s commitment is evident throughout the school, including the Parent Green Team, the Student Green Team, curriculum, facilities, construction and renovation, land and resource stewardship, professional development and community outreach. The Georgia Recycling Coalition, the Green Schools Alliance and U.S. Green Building Council have recognized Paideia’s achievements with commendations and awards.
From Garbage to Black Gold: Paideia is particularly proud of two closely linked areas of focus: waste reduction and urban agriculture. Early efforts at recycling eventually led to greater waste reduction through composting; all that compost naturally led to the development of gardens and the urban agriculture program, expanding in complexity from a few heads of lettuce to a variety of vegetables, the cultivation of bees and raising chickens. Fostering this connection to the natural world through intertwined learning activities has become an essential part of the school’s commitment to environmental awareness.
In 2012, Paideia hired an urban agriculture coordinator to engage the school community in farming. Through urban agriculture, students, teachers, and parents learn about the synergistic relationships between growing crops, eating, raising animals, reusing waste, and the related nutritional and environmental benefits. Paideia families are enthusiastically embracing the value of urban agriculture by working with teachers and students to farm sections both on campus and in the neighborhood.
Land and Resource Stewardship
LEED Certification: Two LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certified buildings: Junior High and Mother Goose building, which incorporate sustainable features such as a geothermal heat exchange system and two water retention ponds.
Renovations of existing buildings also incorporate green practices:
- High energy efficient heat and air systems
- Low VOC paints and adhesives
- Carpet tiles composed of recycled materials
- Green cleaning programs
- Fluorescent and LED light fixtures
- Lighting control systems with programmed timers and motion detectors
- Water efficient toilets and faucets
Composting: Composting has become a central part of both waste reduction efforts and the urban agriculture program, tending the soil and using land both on and off campus to produce food.
Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle: Waste reduction is a key component of Paideia’s commitment to the environment. The Green Team’s innovative Reuse-a-Kit (plates, utensils, cups for at least 100) is used at most parent-hosted social events as well as on-campus events. Wooden stage sets from the musicals are taken to a homeless camp where they are reused as shelter. Even a small effort such as using washable mugs in the teachers' lounge has reduced the daily waste from paper cups.
Recycling efforts have grown over the years to include
paper, glass, plastics, cardboard, aluminum, fluorescent bulbs, electronics, printer cartridges, batteries and Styrofoam. The school uses many recycled products including paper towels, toilet paper and copy paper.
Water Conservation: With the growing global and regional concern for water supplies, Paideia has demonstrated its commitment with investments in low-flow toilets and waterless urinals, and water wells, rain barrels and cisterns for landscape maintenance. The school has installed two bioretention ponds to minimize stormwater runoff, and uses native plants throughout the campus landscape.
Energy Efficiency: Paideia has invested in high energy, efficient heat and air systems, LED and fluorescent light fixtures and a geothermal heat exchange system. Paideia strives to create awareness of energy efficiency by encouraging everyone to turn off lights and computers when not in use.