Operations at SAS 1108: Sustainability at SAS

Operations at SAS 1108: Sustainability at SAS
Operations at SAS 1108: Sustainability at SAS

Each Earth Day, many in our community reflect on how personal choices can help protect the environment. At Singapore American School, we recognize that choices made by institutions like ours affect the environment on a much larger scale. SAS is committed to using resources as efficiently as possible for environmental, educational, and financial reasons. As we face the growing reality of a world impacted by global warming, resource optimization is, more than ever, clearly right and necessary for our shared future.

SAS has been focused on strengthening its sustainability at least since moving to the Woodlands campus. Our older buildings were planned using "passive design" to take account of natural elements—such as wind direction and the sun's path—to minimize air-conditioning (AC) and lighting needs. In 2013, we installed one of Singapore's largest rooftop solar photovoltaic arrays, which we enlarged during our 2015 auditorium upgrade. Students, teachers, and staff were instrumental in saving our rainforest, creating the eco-garden, and caring for both over the years. Among more recent advances, we transformed our middle school cafeteria to be open air and fan-cooled; installed rainwater runoff and AC-condensate capture systems to conserve Singapore's scarce water; replaced lightbulbs and installed remote sensors to save electricity; and installed water-saving fixtures in our washrooms.

We are committed to reducing our energy and water use by a further 30 percent as we move to new and improved facilities through our SAS Reimagined campus upgrade. Passive design was again incorporated in our planning, while lessons learned through pathfinder projects will shape decisions about our new indoor areas, outdoor spaces, and supporting infrastructure. We anticipate better resource use through various improvements, including more advanced energy-saving technology; the use of sustainably sourced products, recycled content, and materials certified as low in volatile organic compounds; water-saving taps, toilets, faucets, water fountains, and kitchen facilities; and landscaping with more climate-friendly plants and water-saving irrigation methods.

Waste management is another area we are working hard to improve, with "reduce, reuse, and recycle" the guiding principle. To reduce food waste, we work with our food vendors to ensure appropriate portion sizes and menu offerings. We also have a new eco digester, which transforms organic waste into compost—in just 12 to 16 hours, 350 kilograms of food waste can turn into 140 kilograms of fertilizer for campus plantings! Turning to plastics, paper, and disposables, we continuously monitor our practices and products to work toward the goal of zero net waste in these areas. Recycling stations around school help us send less trash to landfills and encourage our community to practice eco-conscious habits.

To ensure that the new facilities meet our ongoing sustainability goals, we will work to earn and maintain two external accreditation standards. All new construction is designed to meet the highest sustainability standard in Singapore, Green Mark Platinum (Super Low Energy). Additionally, our design decisions are intended to meet WELL Certification requirements, meaning they will prioritize all users' mental and physical health and well-being. We have created the following framework as a point of reference for our design team, to ensure that our campus facilities goals, across all benchmarking systems, are implemented during the campus upgrade work and then monitored going forward.

The SAS campus is itself an important learning tool for students. We incorporate our choices and challenges as much as possible into student learning experiences, from elementary school rainforest expeditions to Catalyst research on eco-garden species. Chief Operating Officer Matt Rogers and Director of Facilities and Services Simon Thomas gave a presentation about the school's and Singapore's environmental challenges to sixth graders during their recent Sustainability unit. "As part of our operations team, I always enjoy engaging with our students," says Rogers. "Our amazing kids never fail to impress with their inquisitive minds and creative thinking. Watching them process the environmental issues of today and apply their critical thinking skills to these challenges is inspiring and offers hope for the future of our planet."

Students can get involved in myriad initiatives through the school's eco-service clubs like Roots and Shoots, Blue Planet Initiative, Earthcraft, Global Issues Network, Students Against Violation of Earth, SEED, and XSProject. Efforts include collecting classroom waste paper for recycling; habitat-enhancement on campus; wetlands and beach clean-ups off campus; and supporting regional efforts to reverse environmental damage. EcoSAS, a group of high school eco-service club officers, liaises with the facilities team to help improve SAS's environmental footprint. Yesterday, along with Thomas, these students gave a presentation to the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce summarizing student-led sustainability initiatives.

As we start seeing tangible benefits from SAS Reimagined, we are excited by the promise of an increasingly resource-efficient campus that models for our students responsible habits for sustainable living. This Earth Day, we affirm our commitment to operating as efficiently as possible and to educating our students to be leaders in environmental stewardship and innovation. Explore our plans and progress at SAS Reimagined, and send any questions or comments to mrogers@sas.edu.sg. We look forward to hearing from you.


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