All photos credit: Rochester School.
Since 2010, the Rochester School building in Chía, Colombia, has demonstrated the importance of providing a school’s community with a living example of a commitment to sustainability. In July 2019, the school received LEED Gold recertification with 78 points, becoming the first school project in Latin America to be recertified to LEED standards. Originally receiving LEED Gold certification in 2012, the school and community leaders received this distinction through a commitment to providing a healthy learning environment and lifelong sustainability lessons, as well as serving as an example to the community.
The recertification process was led by the school’s sustainability team, with the support of the operations and management team and the Rochester city community. Initially, the team tracked its energy consumption, on-site energy production and water efficiency in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager platform. However, the team synchronized their other building performance data in Arc, the comprehensive building data analysis platform.
This synchronization provided the team access to their indoor environmental quality data and insight into occupant satisfaction in the areas of indoor air quality, daylight availability, indoor lighting quality and access to outdoor views. Because the school strives to provide high-quality learning environments to students and teachers, the team was gratified to find that occupant satisfaction ranked high among all the human experience categories.
A commitment to sustainability actions runs deep within Rochester School. The school leads biodiversity conservation projects and promotes the protection of endemic species in Colombian ecosystems, incorporating learning and creating strong conservational ties in students throughout. Additionally, the school has led Green Apple Day of Service events since 2012. Rochester School has engaged the entire city of Chía in projects to plant more than 1,000 native species of trees, cleaning nature areas and providing sustainability education to the community.
The benefits of being a school with a high level of performance in sustainability are made evident not only by the day-to-day occupant satisfaction and opportunities to connect sustainability curriculum to building design and performance, but also in the influence on the community. Through the sustainability initiatives in school, the larger community has been inspired to transform their habits to reduce their impact on the environment.
Rochester School has become a reference for educational and governmental institutions, and it even hosts visiting groups from other nations, who tour the facilities—thus fulfilling its purpose of becoming a live classroom for learning and an educational tool to create a sustainable and systems-aware generation of citizens.
The Rochester School, over its 60 years of operation, has received several national and international awards and recognitions in design, performance, and academic and environmental practices. Such awards include the Simón Bolivar medal on three occasions; Certification of the European Foundation for Quality Management 4 Stars in 2019; Member of the Council of International Schools 2019; Glasser Quality School Certification, granted by William Glasser International; Character Counts Certification; Environmental Award by Caracol in 2017; BIBO Award–El Espectador for Best Environmental Practice in 2014 and 2015; and Member of the Association of International Schools of Colombia.