Sustainable Schoolyards:
Centers of Our Communities

An Ongoing Exhibit at the New Orleans Botanical Garden

Co-sponsored by the American Planning Association and the National Association of Realtors®

Opened April 9, 2010

Sustainable  Schoolyards Sustainable Schoolyards: Centers of Our Communities explores how a well-planned school can serve as the focal point for our daily lives. Schools can be multi-use facilities depending on how they are planned and utilized by the surrounding neighborhoods. From an environmental perspective, true sustainability involves a comprehensive approach to the planning and design of our buildings, transportation networks, and public spaces. Sustainable planning goes beyond green technologies and practices. Its purpose is to create a framework that minimizes the effects of development on the environment and maximizes the efficient use of energy. Moreover, good planning creates enjoyable places to live, work, and play.

Neighborhood schools provide students with a place to learn and socialize. However, schools and their grounds also provide an opportunity for a variety of other uses to the community. Schools should be safe and easy places to travel to, either by walking, bicycling, or through public transportation networks. The schoolyard itself should serve the neighborhood as a platform for many things, such as public meeting spaces, cultural resources, community gardening, and recreational facilities. Schools should not only serve its students, but should also provide a convenient and valued resource for each member of the community.

Where and how we live has everything to do with our energy consumption. Throughout the exhibit are examples of sustainable design and green demonstration features. Concepts such as rainwater management, composting, solar power, experiential learning, and sustainable building elements illustrate how a schoolyard can serve its students and the wider community.

When schools are centers of their community — places where people go to play, learn, and gather — more walkable places result. Providing opportunities for people to walk, rather than drive, also helps to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Walkable communities encourage more exercise, healthier lifestyles and promote less driving — but they don't happen by accident. Great communities take great planning. By working together with neighborhood groups, local government officials such as mayors and county leaders, businesspeople, builders, and many others create the best places to live, work, and play. All of these choices create places of lasting value for future generations and work to protect the environment.

For more information about the Botanical Garden and directions, visit:

Special Thanks to: The Green Project, Greg's Antiques and Other Assorted Junk, Tulane Regional Urban Design Center, University of New Orleans Classic Upward Bound Program, Holly Grove Farmer's Market, Our School at Blair Grocery, Stretching Sky Arts Laboratory, AMACO/Brent Ceramics Laboratory, I Have, We Have, Arts Council of New Orleans, Metal, Glass and Dave.