This is the third article in a series where members of our community elaborate on how and why sustainability has been embedded throughout our organisation as a part of who we are, not just something we do.
The world has changed substantially since the opening of our first Dulwich College International school in 2003. The preservation of the natural environment has been an issue brought to the fore and we have made sustainability a guiding principle for everything we do, including the design of our built environments.
As providers of holistic and experiential education, we believe that student learning is not simply confined to a classroom. The physical learning environment plays a key role in their development and outlook, and so our schools are designed and built to be the “third teacher”. We want our students to be aware of their school surroundings, how it was built, how it is operated and how we can continue to strive to increase its efficiency and leave a smaller footprint on our planet.
Maximising site opportunities to reduce environmental impact
In our sustainability efforts, we aim to follow sound design principals that use site opportunities and climatic adaptation. For example: our Dulwich College (Singapore) buildings are orientated to harvest the sun and prevailing winds for maximum light while incorporating shading to minimize indoor heat loading and natural ventilation. We also installed solar panels in the school to harvest the abundance of sunlight as a renewable energy source. In Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi, we have incorporated local heritage with local materials to provide a sympathetic sustainable design, using materials like locally sourced bricks to build the school.
Building in strong connections to the natural world
Furthermore, outdoor learning allows our students to connect to the natural world and to learn from what it has to share – a mud kitchen, a herb garden or a composting process. For example, Dulwich College Beijing incorporates green areas that cover 48 percent of the campus, with gardens that allow our students to engage directly with nature. We also connect our indoor and outdoor environments with interior biophilic design, which brings natural materials, natural light, vegetation and nature into the physical school. With school designs that connect our student to the environment, we hope that they appreciate and learn from the many wonders of the earth.
Developing a Super Low Energy building at Dulwich College (Singapore)
An upcoming project we are excited about is the Super Low Energy (SLE) building we are designing on our existing Dulwich College (Singapore) campus. It utilises all of the above passive design and material selection solutions plus BIPV (Building Integrated Photo Voltaics) as a renewable energy source. These principles, combined with other design elements such as large green accessible spaces in a central atrium and an active roof top with native planting that integrates rainwater harvesting, creates a ZE building. Taken together, the building will enhance sustainability awareness, health and wellbeing for our students – the ultimate environment to facilitate holistic learning. The objective is to reach Zero Energy which would mean all energy consumption supplied through renewable sources.
As the United Nations Environment Program states, the buildings and construction sector accounted for 36 percent of final energy use and 39 percent of energy and process-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2018. We hope that, as we constantly improve our construction and design practices and do our part in lessening the impact to our environment, we can build up the “third teacher” to encourage our students to cherish our world.
By Orla Brady
Group Director of Building Construction & Design