Pictured above: Gaiser NJHS members display their Washington Green Schools banner and awards. Photos by Karina Tobin.
With apologies to Kermit the Frog: It’s not easy being green. But Gaiser Middle School makes it seem effortless with its multifaceted approach to protecting the environment and increasing student and staff member well-being.
The move toward greater environmental consciousness and preservation began in 2009, in an area near the school that was clogged with blackberry bushes. After removal of the bushes, students planted native trees, grasses and roses in what is now called Gaiser Pond, an ongoing living lab.
Efforts to conserve natural resources expanded in subsequent years to include initiatives such as compost bins in the cafeteria that encourage smarter food scrap disposal and a student-led study of vehicle idling that led to a no-idling policy on school grounds. Low-flow water fixtures, native drought-tolerant plants and minimal landscape irrigation, paired with water monitoring, have led to significant reductions in usage.
This year, the eighth-graders in Gaiser’s current National Junior Honor Society took on campaigns to increase hand washing and limit energy consumption. The latter was a difficult task.
To structure its focus on energy savings, the NJHS performed extensive research, including an audit of the building, and collaborated with Gaiser’s maintenance team. The NJHS led the entire school in lessening the demand for energy by changing behaviors. Teachers joined in by pledging to be more energy-efficient. As a result, energy and natural gas usage have declined.