Sidwell Plans to Increase Sustainability

Sidwell Friends School has developed plans to reach and retain a higher level of sustainability for the 2020-2021 school year.

“Environmental stewardship remains a key priority for Sidwell Friends and is an important area of focus for faculty and staff,” Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs Min Kim said.

Sidwell already has implemented eco-friendly features including an energy-efficient water filtration system and solar panel roof. The Middle School, Quaker Meeting House and Upper School Arts Center all have received LEED Platinum ratings, and three other structures have been awarded gold ratings.

Sidwell’s upcoming renovations, including the new Upton campus, will be another showcase of the school’s use of eco-friendly materials and strategies.

Improvements to the Lower School campus, led by teacher Monica Sorensen, include initiatives and activities designed to build the next generation of environmental stewards. Plans include the creation of a new vegetable garden to help provide a sustainable and healthy source of food, education about composting and other local activities focusing on flora and fauna on campus. Faculty members also are developing ideas to create a living classroom, exploring topics such as pollinator populations, air pollutants and native trees and shrubbery.

“Everyone would be [excited] to cut vegetables in the morning,” sophomore Nico Rodriguez said of his Lower School experience. “I never realized until now how well we were being taught to take care of our community because of how enjoyable it was.”

Sidwell will take similar thought and care when designing the Upton Campus building. “Environmental stewardship will play a pivotal role in the planning and design of the new Upper School building on Upton Street,” Kim said.

In addition to educational environmental features, such as the inclusion of native plants and tree species across the campus, the building will implement several techniques also used on the other campuses. For example, the new building will mimic the Middle School through large windows that ensure almost every classroom is flooded with natural light, a design proven to improve mental health.

Another aspect of the Upton building would be a rooftop garden similar to that of the Middle School. This feature would provide educational exercises to students, grow useful crops, and insulate air, reducing the school’s use of air conditioning. Through these renovations and new programs, Sidwell will continue to foster a culture of environmental stewardship and education.