Sacred Heart’s educational philosophy around sustainability has always centered on teaching respect for creation and to prepare students to be stewards of the earth’s resources. Efforts to build upon the Schools’ values of sustainability are evident throughout the campus, from the new environmentally-friendly buildings and organic gardens, to recycling and composting food and paper waste generated on the school grounds. All of these environmentally-friendly practices teach our students how to leave a positive effect on the environment.
Michael J. Homer Science and Student Life Center (Homer Center)
Opened in 2009, the Homer Center is the first to achieve the newly created Platinum-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Schools certification in the nation - the highest LEED rating a school building can receive from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
The two-story building encompasses 44,000 square feet and was built along an east/west axis to take maximum advantage of solar access and prevailing winds to reduce the cost of heating and cooling the building. The building is designed to use 69 percent less energy than a typical school in the U.S.
Features of the building include natural lighting and ventilation and use of renewable and recycled materials, such as recycled cotton/denim used for insulation of the interior walls, 73 skylights throughout the building, solar panels and formaldehyde-free plywood and other sustainable wood products. Other green features include water-efficient landscaping and plumbing, photovoltaic panels, and a living roof.
Lower/Middle Schools Campus
In August 2012, a new Lower & Middle Schools campus welcomed faculty and students for the 2012/13 academic school year. The new campus is 89,000-square feet, and includes four individual buildings to surround a large green courtyard with the athletic fields surrounding the perimeter of the campus. The entire campus is built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver standards of the U.S. Green Building council, and provides a healthier and safer environment for the students, faculty and staff. The new library is built to net zero for electricity and water, which means it will reduce the energy it uses and use renewable-energy, cutting utility costs to zero.
As with the Homer Center, the buildings include natural lighting, ventilation and use of renewable and recycled materials along with water-efficient landscaping and a bio swale.
Under the supervision of Dr. Stewart Slafter, the 10,000-square-foot organic garden is maintained and operated by Sacred Heart students and faculty year around as part of its Environmental Science and Global Studies courses.
The School is the first in San Mateo County, Calif., to be approved by the Department of Environmental Health Services Division to use fruits and vegetables grown in its own organic garden for preparation in its school cafeteria.
In addition to feeding faculty, staff and students, food grown and harvested in the organic garden is donated to local charities like St. Anthony of Padua’s Dining Room in Redwood City, Calif., and Sandwiches on Sundays in Menlo Park, Calif. Once a month faculty and students harvest and prepare food to be served to the homeless in San Francisco’s Civic Center as part of a program called, “Food Not Bombs.”
“One of the chief purposes of our gardens is to teach students how to be stewards of the earth’s resources. We’re teaching young people about sustainability and how they can grow food and know about every step of the process so they understand that agriculture can be continued on a permanent basis.” Dr. Stewart Slafter
Over 50 heritage olive trees estimated to be more than 100 years old line the campus along its western border on Elena Avenue. Since 2009, the School community has come together in early November to harvest the olives from the trees. The fruit is then pressed into a premium olive oil, bottled and sold as a fundraiser. Dr. Stewart Slafter oversees the organic management practices of the grove so that the trees produce healthy fruit in time for the harvest. The education of learning how to manage the trees, produce a high quality olive oil, discover what makes an olive oil extra virgin and what factors affect its taste are all part of the lessons learned for both students and adults to appreciate the entire process from tree to table.
In the dining halls recycling and composting is front and center. Three containers are set up to handle recyclables, compostable materials, and trash. Every effort is used to keep the environment in mind; most take out containers and plates are recyclable and plastic silverware is made from cornstarch.
Composting and Recycling
Each week students compost nearly 600 pounds of food scraps from the cafeteria, along with all the newspapers from the school’s library and the white paper towels used on campus to be turned into rich nutrient mulch for the gardens. In the cafeteria and throughout campus, a robust recycling program is in place to dispose of paper, plastic and metal products in an environmentally-friendly manner.
Much loved by students, the members of Oakwood, and faculty/staff are the animals that live in Sacred Heart Schools' barnyard. Numerous goats, chickens, and rabbits inhabit the barnyard in which students assist in the care and feeding of the animals. During the last two years, the community has seen the goat tribe expand with the birth of two baby goats.
Five bio swales reside on the campus to help absorb and treat storm water runoff by filtering out contaminants before being absorbed back into the water table.