Solar Panels and Schoolyard Chickens: A Net-Positive Campus Solar Panels and Schoolyard Chickens: A Net-Positive Campus

Solar Panels and Schoolyard Chickens: A Net-Positive Campus

by Jenni Schneiderman Katherine DeWitt

January 24, 2013

When Seattle’s Bulitt Center—the "greenest office building ever"—opens on Earth Day it will symbolize a shift in 21st century priorities towards intentionality, stewardship, and service. It will soon be followed by a net-zero energy hotel in the Fall of 2013. But businesses aren’t the only entities striving to meet the parameters of the Living Building Challenge by implementing the most ecologically conscious design and technologies available. A net-zero energy public school in New York City will open in 2014, and at our school on the southwest side of Chicago, the Academy for Global Citizenship, we are building a net-positive campus to house our net-positive community.

Our students are enthusiastic about the idea, too. When Patrick's classmates found that their snack cups were not recyclable, they invented a enterprise called "Cup Creations" and initiated a fundraiser for AGC's Net Positive campaign. Patrick doesn't think twice about selling eco-crafts to raise money for his school's sustainable building project. "All we needed to do," Patrick explains matter-of-factly, "was collect all the cups that we used for snack and then we washed them and created things! We made bobble heads, maracas, bug catchers and ant farms." 

Projects like the Bulitt Center and what we're doing at AGC came about independently—not because of new technologies or available funds, but as the result of the same shift in collective consciousness. We are finally starting, as a people, to give back more than we take—we are learning to be net positive. These building projects are the harbingers of the movement to create a future where solar panels on office buildings and schoolyard chickens are the norm.

Photos courtesy of The Third Teacher+/Cannon Design

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Solar Panels and Schoolyard Chickens: A Net-Positive Campus