As modern human beings we have an opportunity—maybe even a responsibility—to find sustainable ways to exist in and be in relationship with our environment. This is just as true in the social realm as it is in relationship to our physical environment, and we need to invent, discover and utilize socially responsible forms. In fact, creating new effective forms of leadership and management that honor the relationship of the human beings and that also respect the living nature of an organization could possibly provide a model for social health in all organizations and in society in general.
— Rea Taylor Gill, A School as a Living Entity, 2010
From the success of the GBA’s Green Schools Academy, to the ever increasing adoption rates of sustainability rating systems (i.e. Green Ribbon, LEED), to Grow Pittsburgh’s Edible Schoolyard program, it has become increasingly clear that local schools are beginning to adopt sustainability principles as part of their curricular and extracurricular activities.
The Waldorf School of Pittsburgh is one local institution that has embraced sustainability since its inception in 1993. Based on the social and educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf Schools strive to co-exist in a profoundly felt, right relationship with the earth. By supporting students’ development of strong inner habits (including compassion, reziliancy and perservance) and their capacities for creative intelligence, these schools also prepare children to be cultural and environmental stewards on the deepest levels. As one of the few Waldorf Schools that is not located in a rural environment, the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh is confronted with both the unique challenge and opportunity of relating its environmental principals to an urban setting.
To capitalize on this, the school has secured funding from the Heinz Endowments to identify and act on opportunities to comprehensively embed sustainability in the school operations and culture. evolveEA is proud to report that we have been engaged to guide the school through this process and are actively helping it to reduce its carbon footprint, implement rigorous water management and recycling practices, maximize the educational and aesthetic value of its campus, and strengthen its cultural traditions of ecological stewardship.
Our approach incorporates a full review of the school’s People, Process, and Place, including architectural design for renovations of the school’s city-designated historic campus in Pittsburgh’s East End. Our process both honors and supports the school’s efforts to realize the following principles it has adopted to guide its evolution:
The Waldorf School of Pittsburgh’s vision and path toward it
- is guided by the needs of our students and the future they will inherit;
- models in process and expresses in form a reverence for people and place and for nature’s cycles and systems;
- recognizes that healthy relationships among people are the cornerstone of the school’s pedagogy and social mission;
- creates practices of institutional life that cultivate personal integrity, principled governance, and organizational resiliency
- honors our commitment to the well-being of all members of our community by bringing social, spiritual, economic and physical vitality to our campus and our community;
- upholds our responsibility as stewards of a vital cultural asset and recognizes the impact that our decisions about our campus and school will have on our neighborhood, city and region.
Impacting the renovation design and operational structure of the school are a series of audits (Waste, Water, Transportation, Purchasing, Cleaning, Indoor Environmental Quality, Energy, and a Greenhouse Gas Inventory) led by evolveEA along with our team of internal stakeholders. Energy modeling and architectural programming are also included in our scope, all of which contribute to a new sustainable vision for the future of the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh and its community. Following the principles laid out above, this vision seeks to transform the facility into a national-caliber demonstration of green building, historic preservation, and sustainable landscapes consistent with the school’s core values and educational philosophy.