Sustainability in the Curriculum
Explaining to the students why they need to recycle or turn off the lights is crucial to instilling long-term sustainable behaviors that they will use in every community they find themselves in. Fenn boys have explored climate science, renewable energy technology, and global policy interventions in science and social studies classes.
Fenn's recent acquisition of the North Campus (an 11-acre parcel of former agricultural land with a wetland and Concord River frontage) has provided numerous science classes with opportunities for field work. The Lower School language arts classes have also used the land as inspiration for nature journaling and appreciation activities. A visit to the North Campus always reminds us of the power of nature and our responsibilities as stewards.
The Fenn Garden
Fenn's garden was constructed with the help of classes and community service participants in the spring of 2012. We've grown our own food for the dining hall (mostly tomatoes and chili peppers!) and we've helped Gaining Ground with their beet harvests when their soil was struggling with a blight.
A sixth grade cohort enthusiastically requested to rebuild the garden in the Spring of 2021. Stay tuned for pics of the new raised beds and seasonal harvests.
Solid Waste Sorting
Since 2010, Fenn has been tracking its utility consumption, using a tool called PortfolioManager. Every two months, we have a chance to inspect, at a granular level, our water, electricity, natural gas, and fuel oil use; the last three utilities can be converted to BTUs for easier comparison between sources of energy, spaces on campus, and periods of time. Looking at this data helps us understand the impact we can have when we "electrify" buildings on campus (eliminating the need for us to combust fossil fuels on-site).
In 2021, Fenn began an ambitious plan to account for operational greenhouse gas emissions - from student transport, paper consumption, faculty commuting, and food purchasing. We recognize that there are intervention points with resources beyond energy.
In 2014, Fenn undertook its first comprehensive sustainability self-assessment. We are using the tool Protostar (developed by sustainability practitioners at fellow NAIS schools), which asks us to measure sustainability efforts in our education program, campus and financial operations, and administrative planning. During the Spring of 2015, we completed and submitted the assessment. Please click here for more information.
Fenn gets that the materials we use in our classrooms and around the school have lives before and after our time with them; that's why we've begun to take a hard look at the products we purchase, use, and dispose of. One of the easiest switches we made happened several years ago - Fenn decided that it wanted to use 100% recycled paper in as many applications as it could, and we made the space for that in our budget. Last year, more than 97% of the office paper we used was 100% recycled.
Additionally, Fenn has purchased highly recyclable Interface carpeting for recently renovated spaces, and our Facilities team prefers bio-based engine oils and EcoLogo certified cleaning products. With the rollout of the one-to-one iPad program and heavier reliance on teaching with technology, we are also proud to say that, usually, 75% of our computer purchases each year are EPEAT Gold certified (primarily for energy efficiency and supply chain transparency).
In the future, we hope to increase our knowledge and use of other products that have more promising life cycle analyses and are healthier for the people and the planet.
Trout in the Classroom
Every October, when the fall weather turns crisp and invigorating, Fenn boys, faculty, and families leave their cars in the driveway and hop on bikes, skateboards, and their feet as they move from one place to another. Boys help tally the miles they haven't driven over the month, and the carbon emissions kept out of the atmosphere by their efforts are always impressive! Visit www.fenn.org/manpower to check out pictures, videos, and results of past years.
Light Bulb Baseball
Sustainability has been a theme in Fenn's strategic planning since 2012. The school community has been charged with seeking out energy efficiency opportunities for the built environment and with teaching boys the principles of sustainability through classroom lessons.
Sustainability will be a major theme in the 2022 strategic plan as well. Additionally, Fenn will also publish a specific Sustainability Master Plan in the Spring of 2022. Work is currently under way with the assistance of a planning consultant to gather information from the community and highlight goals and priorities. This is an exciting step in the evolution of sustainability at Fenn!