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Netherlands: Grass up on the roof

By September 2023No Comments

The importance of sustainability education

Academie Tien is a secondary school in a new developing area of Utrecht in the Netherlands. The school drives on innovative educational concepts and one of them is time for project weeks. In January 2023 such a week was used to set up SCPs on energy saving measures in the community with a particular focus on a new school building being built. A school leader supported this idea for the intended interaction with neighbors and the importance of sustainability education.

The masterplan

The week started with introductions on energy from a local energy and an IT company, a researcher and a representative of a city lab (RAUM) aiming at creative placemaking. They presented current challenges like the energy transition, charging electric cars and net-constipation and the potential of gardens in urban areas. The 15-16 year old students brain stormed on possible ideas according to a method of appreciative inquiry. They created groups and plans for various topics that involved the stakeholders and community members.

A group of students calculated the gains of lowering the temperature in school with one or more degrees by using measurements and formulas for the area of the school and energy flow through roof, walls and windows. Other groups designed a dashboard and an app for smart charging and plans for (vegetable) roof gardens. The final day they got the opportunity to present their findings at a Fair in school. Local news published an article on this event and highlighted the importance of learning to understand and address the interests of various stakeholders in the community to stand up for sustainability.

The fair was a big success. Parents were impressed by the students’ ideas and their presentations with serious plans for sustainability measures. These ideas were not only dreams but their feasibility was underpinned with budgets, timetables and resources needed. What next? The stakeholders, parents, teachers and directors now need to act… Anyway, the students experienced and learned how to bring people together. The school will repeat this activity next year. Their new building will get a green house on a roof to grow vegetables and to “dance up on the roof” for a more sustainable future.

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