Creating a Living Laboratory: The School as a Teaching Tool – Greenbuild 2020 Session Review

ChuckLohreAbby Randall, Greenbuild, Heather Hariston, School Building as a Teaching Tool, Sean O'Donnell

We’re particularly interested in the Green Building as a teaching tool since the Contemporary Arts Center is planning a new children’s education remodel on the sixth floor. We love to visit children’s science museums around the world and see how to enlighten kids’ curiosity. For the local Earth Day event, we’d love to have some fool proof electrical experiment modules that the kids could connect together and see how the sun or wind generate electricity and then what light bulb, water squirt gun or fan you can have some fun with. Get in touch if you would like to help.

From Greenbuild’s session description,
Washington, D.C., has committed to modernizing all of its schools to be more sustainable, with a target of LEED Gold certification or higher. Our presenters see this as an opportunity to foster students’ understanding of sustainability and to integrate the modernization process into student learning.   Since 2017, EcoRise, Perkins Eastman DC, and D.C. Public Schools have partnered on the modernization of CW Harris Elementary in Washington D.C.’s Ward 7 to connect green building features to classroom instruction and cultivate a school-wide culture of sustainability.  Participants will leave this workshop with a better understanding of how the School as a Teaching Tool LEED innovation point can be leveraged to transform a modernized school into an applied laboratory for STEM and sustainability education.

Before students can connect with sustainability concepts though, educators must first understand them themselves. DCPS has leveraged partnerships with EcoRise’s curriculum experts and facilitators, and Perkins Eastman DC’s designers, to help teachers make authentic connections between core instructional concepts and the sustainable features of their schools. By connecting design teams with teachers and providing integrated, standards-aligned curriculum and hands-on resources, DCPS is empowering the next generation of green leaders to design sustainable schools and communities.


In this session, participants will learn how green buildings support STEAM and project-based learning.

Participants will understand how to approach student challenges through a sustainability lens.

Participants will learn how to identify national and local partners that can provide valuable resources and increase student impact.

Attendees will learn how to access to free resources to foster environmental literacy and student innovation within their own school buildings.



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Perkins Eastman
Sean O’Donnell is the practice area leader for Perkins Eastman’s International K12 practice. During his 24+ years of experience designing great learning environments, on projects ranging from the development of a program, the evaluation of an existing building, to the design of new campuses, he has worked to ensure that the learning environment is fully supportive of each user’s physical, intellectual, social/emotional, organizational and technological needs. A recognized leader in educational facility planning and design, he founded the AIA/DC Committee on Architecture for Education, has served as a juror for numerous school design competitions, authored articles and presented internationally on innovations in educational facility design and he has won over 30 design awards. Deeply committed to sustainable school design, he serves on the Board of Directors Collaborative for High Performance Schools, and co-directs the Consortium for Design and Education Outcomes, a research collaboration with Drexel University’s School of Education.

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Deputy Director
A former secondary science teacher and the 2015 EcoRise Teacher of the Year, Abby Randall is committed to inspiring teachers to ignite passion in a new generation of green leaders. Abby has spent the last decade teaching and designing curricula for a wide variety of K–12 science courses and alternative education programs. Abby holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Trinity College and an M.S. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. In her current position as Deputy Director for EcoRise, Abby oversees the implementation of a multitude of leading-edge educational resources, including sustainability and design curricula, a workforce development program focused on green building education, teacher professional development, and a K–12 grant program that brings students’ green innovations to life. Abby also leads EcoRise’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives and is responsible for leveraging and streamlining technology to efficiently scale EcoRise programs.
Go to this link to learn more about grants or contact Abby directly.
EcoRise lessons and resources can be found at (click on Freemium for a selection of free audits and lessons)

Coordinator for Student Wholeness and School Climate
Baltimore City Public Schools
Heather has worked as an educator in public schools for over 20 years. She joins us spending most of her career in early childhood, elementary education, and school leadership. With a passion for improving outcomes for students and communities, Heather has looked to innovation and community partnerships as a vehicle to provide resources and promote advocacy within her community. Driven by a belief in family’s ability to advance student achievement, Heather’s school earned her Districts Standing Ovation Award for Family and Community engagement in 2016 and 2020. Heather has contributed to articles about the impact of social emotional competencies on learning and the responsibility of school leaders to serve as a catalyst for social change.


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