Sidwell Friends School is the greenest school on the planet. Its middle school is the only Platinum LEED institution of its kind to have been brought to fruition. Most of the materials used in construction were either recycled or salvaged, like cedar wood re-used from wine casts. And 78 percent of the materials were manufactured regionally (within 500 miles) to minimize energy from transportation. All plants for landscaping purposes were native. The rooftop houses an array of photovoltaic panels. Low-VOC paints, glues, and adhesives were used in classrooms to improve air quality.
Passive solar design reduces the air conditioning load through natural ventilating and shading. A green roof reduces the "urban heat island effect" and removes pollutants from rainwater. And about 95 percent of the school’s water is recycled through perhaps the most impressive feature of the middle school: its artificial wetlands. After first flowing through a treatment tank to remove solids, wastewater is treated using biological processes. Aquatic plants, water, midcroorganisms, sun, soil, sand, and air filter and clean the water. By the end of the process, the water is drinking quality, but due to current health codes, can only be re-used in toilets and the cooling tower.
With a curriculum grounded in teaching students about the natural world and their relationship to it, Sidwell Friends School stands out among others as a shining example of what education can look like in the world.