The Green Building Spaces (STEM, MS – LEED Certified Buildings)

Dwight-Englewood is proud to have two of its buildings LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, awarded by the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council). The first building, the Hajjar STEM Center – more commonly known as “STEM” – consists of seven flexible classrooms and eight science laboratories, a greenhouse, an outdoor study garden space, the outdoor Jerome Classroom which contains the space shuttle white pine, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows that welcome natural lighting. Additionally, recently built in 2020, the Middle School was awarded LEED Platinum (the highest honor), featuring a central grove of elm trees, a thickly planted courtyard and a bioswale bridge with a microclimate of native trees and rich groundcover plantings of various ferns, innovative landscape and drainage features exceeding municipal and NJ-DEP stormwater management standards, and repurposed boulders referencing the geology of the nearby Palisades. Dwight-Englewood’s commitment to sustainable development is further supported by the series of solar panels on the roof of the Campus Center.

 

The Greenhouse

The Greenhouse, built alongside the Hajjar STEM Center, is a teaching space and laboratory for many groups: DIG and Environmental Science classes, AIRS and Focus students doing research, and the Environmental and Garden Clubs. The space allows students to start seedlings early regardless of the weather outside, often to later be replanted in the Nettie Louise Coit Teaching Garden. The greenhouse also allows for a controlled environment in which experiments on plants may be conducted with minimal environmental error. For instance, a past experiment in the greenhouse concluded that bean plants grown in compost from the school’s Compost Arena grew substantially faster and larger than those grown in commercial compost or gardening soil.

Compost Arena + Initiatives

The Compost Arena has been growing exponentially, going from two tumblers to ten in just six years, in addition to moving to a new location in 2023. Currently, the compost arena has enough room to process a majority of compostable food scraps from the kitchen and the plates of students and faculty. Running at full capacity, the system saves 1000 lbs of food waste per month from the landfill and provides a source of sustainable fertilizer for the school’s Garden. The system continues to run thanks to the efforts of many students, faculty, staff, and kitchen volunteers, organized through the Garden Club and with the collaboration of the Environmental Club. Most of these dedicated community members are in the photo below, which was taken in front of the compost arena.

 

Nettie Louise Coit Teaching Garden

The Nettie Lousie Coit Teaching Garden is a large organic garden situated on campus. As the name suggests, the primary purpose of this garden is to educate students and community members about sustainable agricultural practices such as crop rotation, cover cropping, no-till farming, and planting flowers to attract pollinators. The Nettie Coit garden allows students in various classes and clubs to supplement their classroom learning with real-world experiences that are based on the principles learned in class. The garden produces a wide variety of produce: asparagus, potatoes, raspberries, grapes, apples, peppers, and squash represent just part of the harvest. Some of this food is used by classes and clubs* that are interested in studying agriculture and the natural world more generally. These, however, are far from the only groups to benefit from the garden. For example, 9th grade history classes visit the garden every fall – as part of their hunter-gatherer unit, they harvest and compare amaranth, a wild relative of corn, to the domesticated plant. Any food not used by classes and clubs is used in the school kitchen. The garden is maintained by a group of parent volunteers, the US and MS Garden Clubs, and the DIG classes.

Pollinator Border

The Nettie Coit Garden is surrounded by a pollinator border full of plants designed to attract bees, monarch butterflies, and other pollinators. These pollinators, attracted by the flowers in the pollinator border, go on to also pollinate the various vegetables in the Nettie Coit Garden. The pollinator border also includes a variety of herbs that can be used to make herbal teas, a common drink for Garden Club members during the cold winter months. For a full list of plants in the Pollinator Border, click here.

Apiary

Dwight-Englewood maintains two colonies of honey bees located near the Nettie Coit Garden. There is also a much smaller demonstration hive located in the Library, where one can see the bees moving about within the hive, which is made of glass. These bees pollinate plants in the pollinator border, in the garden, and in the wider area. The bees also produce honey, harvested once or twice a year and distributed at garden events. In addition, the bees produce beeswax, which can be used to create candles.

 

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