Fenn students gardening

Sustainability in the Curriculum

Fenn students in the woods

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.  We are taking a hard look at how we teach conservation and innovation in our classes, and we continue to build each year upon several existing sustainability lessons in our science and social studies programs.  

The faculty has created a set of sustainability standards that all can reference as they plan new units and tweak old lessons.  They also have access to a learning materials blog, which you can view here.  

Every academic subject has the opportunity to engage in sustainability learning, and we are excited to keep finding ways to educate our boys to be globally savvy and ecologically sensitive.

The Fenn Garden

Fenn students gardening

Fenn's garden was constructed with the help of classes and community service participants in the spring of 2012.  In the three beds, we have planted annual herbs, sunflowers, perennial vegetables (such as asparagus), and plenty of cold-weather crops that we can work with during the early spring and late fall.  We fertilize with our own compost and control pests with physical barriers and helpful annual flowers.  The dining hall has showcased our carrots, potatoes, kale, and herbs in Caesar Acosta's Peruvian salsas!  We have also helped Gaining Ground grow beets when their soil was affected with beet blight.


Waste Sorting in the Dining Hall

There's no such thing as "away" when we talk about throwing things away.  That's why we take waste disposal at Fenn pretty seriously.  In addition to our regular single-stream recycling around campus, we sort our waste in the dining hall into garden compost, recycling, uncompostable food waste, and true trash.  Our goals are to reduce the volume of material we send to landfills and to repurpose inedible nutrients into useful materials for our land.

Lower School Green Team

Fenn students recyclingThey may be small, but they make a huge difference!  Our Fourth and Fifth Graders are responsible for emptying classroom and office recyling bins into the larger totes every week.  They give up part of their lunch to do this task, and we are very thankful for their dedication.

Composting Crew

After each of our three lunches during the day, a hardy crew of students empties the dining hall's garden compost buckets into the big wooden bin next to the school garden.  Once in the fall and once in the spring, these boys are also responsible for turning the compost and moving the material through each of the three bins.

LED Relamping

As lightbulbs around campus peter out, we replace them with the most efficient light fixtures we can.  Our biggest projects include retrofitting our exterior spot lights and walkway lampposts and replacing overhead lights in both gyms with LED fixtures.  Check out the poster below for the details on our savings!LED light energy saving chart

Carbon Footprinting

Since 2010, Fenn has been tracking its utility consumption.  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.  From those numbers, we are able to come up with an estimate of our Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon emissions.  

Over the past five years, our campus has evolved and grown in space to accommodate a larger student population and the increasinly robust academic, artistic, and athletic programs.  Additionally, the past two winters have been remarkably colder than the regional average.  This means that our 2014 CO2e levels bounced up to 821.93 metric tons.  Fenn takes this increase very seriously, and is currently taking a hard look at building occupant behavior modification strategies as well as highly efficient mechanical upgrades.  Stay tuned for specifics as we fine-tune our plans.

Sustainability Assessments

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.

Protostar logo

Materials Purchasing

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 this past year and heavier reliance, in general, on teaching with technology, we are also proud to say that 75% of our computer purchases last year alone were 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

Fenn student fishing
For the second year, the Fifth Grade Science classes have raised brook trout in the classroom, from eggs to parr.  Last spring, with the help of Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife, the boys released the young trout in White's Pond; this year, the plan is to do the same.
The boys have a great time investigating the local watershed and identifying issues that have harmed the brook trout populations over the years.  They also develop a strong sense of stewardship over the eggs and fry as they care for them in the tanks each day!

Manpower Month

Fenn students standing with bicycles

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

Green Conserve logo
In April, to coincide with spring training, we play a little game of Light Bulb Baseball.  Participants are split into two teams, classrooms are divided into territories, and players try to hit left-on lightswitches and give other teams outs in their home classrooms.  Click on the green Conserve logo to see the Light Bulb Baseball page!

Strategic Planning

Fenn completed a new ten-year strategic plan in 2012.  Many dedicated faculty, administrators, trustees, parents, alumni, and students contributed sincere thoughts and feedback during the planning process, and sustainability came through as vitally important to our school in several areas.  The strategic plan calls on faculty to integrate environmental sustainability more fully in the curriculum and show our students where there are opportunities for responsible behavior; the plan also calls on our Facilities and Operations teams to employ energy efficient and environmentally sensitive practices as we manage our buildings.

Please see Fenn's Strategic Plan for more detailed information.


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Fenn relies on its loyal community to sustain this wonderful place of learning for young boys. Your gift to Fenn today ensures the Fenn of tomorrow.

An Independent Day School
for Boys Grades 4-9

516 Monument Street, Concord, MA 01742

Tel: (978) 369-5800 Email:  info@fenn.org

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