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  • Writer's pictureBenny Kuriakose

Sustainability in School Design


Sustainability is a practice that seeks to minimize the negative impact of buildings on the environment by efficient and moderate use of materials, energy, and development of space. The idea of sustainability is to ensure careful use of resources for today, as well as maintaining it for the future use. Some of the sustainability concepts are discussed in this blog which can be implemented in the school design.

Sustainability in school design
Sustainability in school design

List of Contents

Rain Water Harvesting


Rain water harvesting is a technique of collecting runoff water from the roofs. This water can be stored for school purposes. The water collected from the gutter can be channelled to a storage tank, which can fill every time during rains. Otherwise, the water can be directed towards the ground for groundwater recharge.


Collection and use of rain water for irrigation
Collection and use of rain water for irrigation

Solar Panels


Solar panels are designed to absorb the sun’s rays as a source of energy for generating electricity. The photovoltaic system supplies solar electricity, which can be utilized for school purposes.

Solar panels for generating electricity
Solar panels for generating electricity


Use of solar panels for electricity in Sankalp School
Installation of solar panels in Sankalp School Design

Solar Water Heater


Since cooking in schools is done in a large scale, the solar heater gives hot water for bulk cooking purposes. A solar water heater is made up of an insulated storage tank for hot water and a collector for gathering solar energy. It can be installed on roof-tops, building terrace and on open ground where there is no shade. Around 60-80 degree Celsius temperatures can be obtained on clear sunny days. It has a life span of about 15-20 years and almost no running cost for the hot water.

Use of solar panels for solar water heater being used in the school kitchen
Use of solar panels for solar water heater being used in the school kitchen

Segregation of Waste


Waste produced in schools can be segregated so as to recycle, reuse or dispose them with ease. Some waste materials are harmful to the environment, hence it is important for the schools to be aware of the kind and amount of waste produced.


Waste can be :

  • Biodegradable waste

  • Non-biodegradable waste

  • Toxic waste

The bins or containers can be kept throughout the campus for efficient disposal of the waste within the school. This will also encourage children to segregate the waste at home.

Segregation of waste in schools
Segregation of waste in schools

Biodegradable waste includes organic waste like kitchen waste, vegetables, fruits, flowers, leaves from the garden, paper etc. Waste is further distinguished as wet and dry waste. Wet waste, which consists of leftover foodstuff, vegetable peels, etc., can be put in a compost pit and the compost could be used as manure in the garden.

Disposal of biodegradable waste
Disposal of biodegradable waste

Unlike biodegradable waste, non-biodegradable waste cannot be dissolved and decomposed by natural agents. Some dry waste like cans, aluminum foils, plastics, metal, glass etc. are non-biodegradable waste products that can be recycled.

Disposal of non - biodegradable waste
Disposal of non - biodegradable waste

One can also keep a bin for toxic wastes such as chemicals from labs, medicines, batteries, dried paint, old bulbs, etc. Construction wastes, electronic and E-waste are some of the non recyclable wastes produced that may need to be disposed with care. Each of these can be segregated and disposed separately. A bin for different types of waste products along with special hazardous waste bins can be provided in schools, to safely dispose the toxic wastes and to carefully use the resources available (by recycling).

Careful disposal of toxic waste from the chemistry and computer labs in schools
Careful disposal of toxic waste from the chemistry and computer labs in schools

Some waste reducing tips :

  • Encourage reuse of office supplies, i.e. paper clips, rubber bands and brass fasteners, etc.

  • Requesting suppliers to deliver products on pallets or in metal drums and take them back.

  • The cafeteria can switch to reusable utensils and dishes instead of throw aways whenever possible. This reduces the amount of waste produced.

  • The possibility of switching to refillable containers for milk and juice can also be taken into consideration.

  • Disks, CD’s, toner & printer cartridges, etc. can all be reused.

Use of stainless steel plates in the café instead of disposal paper plates and cups, wil
Use of stainless steel plates in the café instead of disposal paper plates and cups, wil

Biogas Treatment


The biogas plants would generate methane from the waste on the school premises. The biogas would be used in school kitchen to cook food for children, while the sludge obtained as a by-product could be used as organic manure for the vegetable garden. A dome shaped biogas plant is preferred in schools as it combines all the components in one unit, including the gasholder, thus reducing maintenance requirements.

A dome shaped biogas treatment plant
A dome shaped biogas treatment plant

Some of the principles covered, such as rainwater collection, solar heating, compost pit waste disposal, etc., can be used in the design of the school. Thus , it will guarantee that resources are used wisely both now and in the future.



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