Fourth-grader Austin Nuhfer displays the grocery bag he decorated with a conservation theme. His bag and others will go back to the donor store, encouraging customers to conserve resources.
Kendall Edwards decorated a paper grocery bag with phrases like "save a tree," hoping it will inspire people to recycle.
"People should recycle paper, and paper comes from trees, and we need trees," she said. "If everybody recycles, it would save the planet."
The fourth grader at Hawkins Elementary and her classmates learned Friday what it means to be "green" from about 40 volunteers from the Lathrop Co., a member of the construction management team building the new Hawkins and other Toledo Public Schools buildings.
The new Hawkins under construction will be the first "green" school in the building program. All future schools will follow its example.
Kendall Edwards decorates a paper grocery bag as part of the day's lessons. Recycling, she says, can save the planet.
"The children are going into a green building, and when you think of that, you think of the color," Hawkins Principal Ann Baker said. "We wanted to open their eyes and really give them a foundation to build on when we say something is green."
Lathrop representatives asked school officials if they could tell the students about their new school as a way to be involved in the community, said Steve Klepper, the company's general manager.
It quickly evolved into the "Generation Green Schools" program that included the grocery bag project that will return the decorated bags to Kroger, which donated them. They will be distributed to customers who, hopefully, will be motivated to recycle.
Students also were read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, which is a metaphorical story about the human impact on the environment.
And they learned of things they can do to help, such as saving electricity by turning lights off when they leave a room, or opening windows and using natural light.
They also learned they should turn off the water when brushing their teeth or take shorter showers to conserve water.
"I try to help as much as I can," said Austin Nuhfer, who, like Kendall, is 10 and in fourth grade.
He's most excited about the idea of putting his leftovers into a composting jug so that the soil, water, and worms will turn it into nutrient soil. "We all have to do the little things to help the earth," he said.
The students now know how their new school will help the environment as a LEED-certified building. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating is a certification from the U.S. Building Council that recognizes "green" structures.
The new Hawkins has larger windows for more daylight in class, which will help with the goal to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent, said Justin Hammerling, a project engineer with Lathrop.
It will reduce water usage by 50 percent with low-flow fixtures and zero-irrigation landscaping. The school will have a rain garden.
The new building also will have two windmills to power three classrooms: a traditional three-blade propeller style and a vertical windmill that looks a bit like a blender, Mr. Hammerling said.
He said it's important for young people, like the 430 students in kindergarten through fifth grade at Hawkins, to learn about their impact on the environment.
"Being green [takes] the same amount of time and effort. It's the same effort to put that aluminum can in a recycle bin as it is to throw it in the trash," Mr. Hammerling said. "It's important to start that early."
The new Hawkins is expected to be completed by the end of 2009.
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