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Sustainable Landscape

Many schools have untapped assets such as land, natural resources, sunlight and rainfall that are often ignored and under-utilised. Landscape design should not be overlooked, as strategic masterplanning can have considerable cost benefits as well as improving academic performance, comfort conditions, and the health of students and the wider community. Increase in the quality, quantity and biodiversity of the landscape around buildings is part of an holistic approach to sustainable design.

Offsetting & Regeneration

Offseting the negative impact of development is essential to maintaining the health of both the local ecosystem and the planet.

The synergy between man and nature needs to be recognised in masterplanning and architectural design. A building development, no matter how well executed, is very unlikely to totally avoid the use of fossil fuels. This carbon footprint can be offset through carbon sequestration from the planting of multiple trees and plants. Planting native trees and keystone species in particular, such as Ficus, can have a disproportionately large effect on the health and abundance of the local ecosystem.

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Mzuzu Health Centre New saplings were planted to replace the few trees that had to be felled during construction

Productivity

Cultivation can form a useful part of the school curriculum. Food production should be seen as a basis for healthy eating, education and cost saving.

Kitchen gardens and orchards can be hugely beneficial for learning, nutritional health and reducing the cost of school meals. Children can learn about improved cultivation practices through the integration of an environmental and nutritional curriculum. Trees can provide fruit at break times and seasonal vegetables can supplement meals, with any surplus providing an income stream for the school. Managed woodland plantations can be harvested on a regular basis, creating a carbon neutral fuel source for cooking.

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ECD&F Centres Kitchen gardens have been designed to provide at least one healthy meal to the children of each community daily

Active Learning

Outdoor teaching areas encourage both work and play. Informal seating under verandas or trees provides additional active learning space.

Difficulties with abstract thinking and spatial perception have been scientifically linked to a lack of stimulation in childhood. Designing an environment that encourages children's sensorial stimulation is integral to a school's academic success. As an extension of the interior classroom, trees can be planted in circles and crescents to provide shaded outdoor space for teaching, group work and play. Using steps and amphitheatres formed around natural features can embed learning and valuing the natural world into a school's ethos.

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ECD&F Centres  All sites are provided with a selection of custom made playground equipment to promote play-based learning.

Mitigation

Strategic planting can be used to mitigate damage from potential climate disasters, such as storms, earthquakes or flooding.

Site specific mitigation tactics should be employed to reduce negative impact arising from severe wind conditions. Wind break plantations can shelter a school during storms, while the creation of bioswales can help to manage large amounts of storm water. On sloping sites, landscape stabilisation will be necessary to protect the slope from erosion. This may be simple as planting trees or grasses, although large gradients will require cut and fill landscaping or retaining structures to prevent landslides.

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Lake Bunyonyi Secondary Various slope stabilisation measures have been put in place to mitigate erosion and potential landslides

Productivity

Cultivation can form a useful part of the school curriculum. Food production should be seen as a basis for healthy eating, education and cost saving.

Kitchen gardens and orchards can be hugely beneficial for learning, nutritional health and reducing the cost of school meals. Children can learn about improved cultivation practices through the integration of an environmental and nutritional curriculum. Trees can provide fruit at break times and seasonal vegetables can supplement meals, with any surplus providing an income stream for the school. Managed woodland plantations can be harvested on a regular basis, creating a carbon neutral fuel source for cooking.

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COF Primaries Kitchen gardens have been designed to provide at least one healthy meal to the children of each community daily