Sustainability Program Overview
Our goal is to imbue every part of the program with an environmental component; and to endow every student and teacher with an understanding and appreciation of his or her role in stewarding our resources.Paul J. Stellato, Head of School
- Fully integrated garden education program PK-8th grade
- 1st - “Where does our food come from?” and local bird study
- 2nd - Symbiotic relationship between people and nature through the study of biomes and the way the first peoples of NJ, the Lenni Lenape, respected the earth
- 3rd - Water cycle, usage, pollution, campus water and storm drains
- 4th - Compost/soil study, bee education, Lower School recycling leadership, 21st century food production methods
- 5th - Theme of sustainability in science
- 6th - Essential Question: How do cultures interact with their environment?
- 7th - DaVinci Food & Garden education
- 8th - Fossil fuel burning and emissions
- 9th - Biology reads The Sixth Extinction, looking at the Anthropocene
- 10th - Applied chemistry has sustainability focus, especially plastics
- 10th - US History and Economics environmental unit
- 9th-12th - Science, humanities, art, foreign language, and the advisory program experiential learning in the garden
- 20 different interdisciplinary curricular programs in the greenhouse
- 5th, 6th, and 8th grade outdoor education programs
- Upper School Garden Apprentice Program
- Upper School Energy & Climate Scholars program
- Harvest Dinner and Garden Festival
- Upper School Environmental Action Club (EnACT)
- NextGen Student Climate Conference
- The Great Giveaway (collection of used school supplies at end of year go to local charity)
- Spring Break trip to The Island School
Sense of Place
Those moments in our curriculum where we explore the natural, cultural, and historical identity of this specific place and discover a knowledge of home that defines us and for which we are responsible.
Interdependence and Community
Those moments in our curriculum where we explore the qualities that sustain healthy local and global communities: diversity, cooperation, collaboration, interconnectedness, and caring.
Those moments in our curriculum where we apply the basic principles of ecology to our thinking. We encourage systems or contextual thinking (how parts relate to the whole), notice networks, cycles and nested systems.
Stewardship and Service
Those moments in our curriculum where we practice a care for one another and the commons, and nurture a sense of responsibility for individual and communal actions and their consequences.
Visionary Thinking and Transformation
Those moments in our curriculum where we learn to rethink the fundamental assumptions around which our knowledge is based and to create new paradigms required to design sustainable societies.
We work continually to reduce our environmental footprint. Some highlights of our efforts are below. Here are our Sustainability Guidelines for Building and Grounds passed by the Board of Trustees:
- LED lighting
- Highly programmed building control system for HVAC
- High efficiency boiler and chiller
- CO2 occupancy sensor control of outside air heating and cooling
- Double pane, high insulating windows
- Regular maintenance on our HVAC system
- Energy audit and greenhouse gas assessments
Water use reduction
- Water bottle refilling stations
- Improved field irrigation
Waste reduction, conservation, and purchasing
- Student run compost of all kitchen, table and food scraps (about 15,000 lbs/year) into our organic garden
- Successful recycling program: paper, cans, bottles, electric bulbs, markers, crayons, soft single-use disposables
- Stationary paper 60% Forest Stewardship Council
- Xerox paper: Earth Choice 50
- Certified green cleaning supplies, post-consumer water bathroom paper
- Terracycle partnerships: chip and snack bags
- Most publications online
- IT: soy based toners, environmentally responsible computer recycling and donations
Grounds and Maintenance
- No mow zones
- Longer grass
- Integrated pest management system
- Policy of planting non-invasive species
- Maintain a wildflower meadow
Partnership with FLIK Dining
- Four-star Green Restaurant Association certification (Click on each category to learn more.)
- Fresh food prepared by chefs
- 30% local food purchases in season
- Milk is local and hormone free
- No disposable single serving packaging, plates, trays or utensils in food service and catering
- PDS garden food in cafeteria
- 100% post-consumer recycled paper napkins
- Straw free
- Plastic free yogurt bar with homemade granola, "Jersey Fresh" fruit and yogurt from a local dairy
- At least 5 hand fruits offered daily, apples and pears sourced locally for 75% of the school year
- “Cage free” eggs and local dairy products
- Daily vegan, vegetarian and whole grain meal choices
- School wide compost program greatly reduces our landfill contributions
- Monthly “Low Impact Lunch” (no ovens or units that heat used that day to prepare or serve food)
Parents Association standing committee on Sustainability and the Garden
- Parents Association events sustainability guidelines
- No-idling policy
- Community garden volunteer days
PDS has a no car idling policy.
Switch off your engine if you’re standing still for more than 10 seconds at drop-off or pick-up.
Did you know that:
- Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting your engine
- Idling causes harmful fumes and is expensive
- Idling for more than 3 minutes is illegal in NJ
Myth: The best way to warm up a car is by letting it idle for several minutes
Fact: Idling is not an efficient way to warm your vehicle, even in cold weather. A slow drive-off during the first mile is the best way to warm a vehicle’s transmission, tires, suspension, steering, & wheel bearing.
Myth: Eliminating unnecessary idling won’t save money
Fact: One hour of idling can burn up to one gallon of fuel, and avoiding 5 minutes of idling each day can save $35 every year. When you idle, you go 0 miles per gallon—talk about money going up in smoke!
Myth: Frequent re-starting of car engines damages my car
Fact: Re-starting has little impact on engine components like the battery and starter. You can actually reduce wear and tear when you turn off your vehicle rather than idling. Excessive idling can damage your engine components like cylinders, spark plugs, and the exhaust system.
Myth: Shutting off and restarting my vehicle uses more gas than if I left it running
Fact: Thirty seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine. If you are going to stop for thirty seconds or more (except in traffic), turn off the engine. Some experts estimate even 10 seconds is the break-even point.
Myth: Pollution emitted from idling cars is insignificant to my health & environment
Fact: It’s quite significant because toxins emitted from idling can impair our lungs & heart. Idling fumes have been linked to asthma, decreased lung function, cardiac disease, cancer & other serious health problems. Those most at risk are children, the elderly, and those with respiratory ailments. Prolonged exposure can possibly lead to death.
Myth: Sitting in an idling car prevents exposure to car exhaust fumes
Fact: Not so. According to the International Center for Technology Assessment (CTA), exposure to most car pollutants, like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) & carbon monoxide (CO) is much higher inside vehicles than on the road side. Higher exposure occurs when sitting in traffic congestion, highways or in a line-up of idling vehicles at a school or drive-thru. In these situations, CO levels can be seven times the outside air level.