’Ewa Makai Middle School is located in the town of Ewa Beach on the south coast of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The school opened its doors in January 2011, and in just over a year it earned some of the highest environmental honors available for green building construction and for environmentally-focused academics.
Construction of the school building began in July 2009, and the school was designed and built to meet the strictest green building standards. ’Ewa Makai has earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its use of recycled materials, use of natural daylight, and energy- and water-saving lighting and plumbing fixtures. In addition, all cleaning products, furniture, and computers were purchased to green certification standards, and 60 percent of school waste is composted, using worms and barrels to produce fertilizer for the school garden. Paperless classrooms make wide use of iPads, PowerPoint presentations, e-mail, e-books, and laptops.
The school’s focus on the environment has earned it a 2012 Green Ribbon School designation from the U.S. Department of Education. Learning at ’Ewa Makai is project based, with teams that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills. The school’s science classes cover aquaponics, solar cells, solar cars, windmill generators, ecosystems, and robotics.
During the 2011-12 school year, seventh-grade students at ’Ewa Makai constructed raised garden beds out of recycled materials, and used them to raise herbs, vegetables and watermelon. They’ve made soups, salads, and kale chips out of their harvest, and have shared them with teachers and fellow students. To share their knowledge with community members, the students sponsored a “Community Gardening Night” in the spring of 2012, where they gave away lettuce, onion, radish and tomato seedlings—and soil to grow them in—to 200 community members who attended.
American Forest Foundation Blog:
- April 23, 2012: Ten PLT GreenSchools! Named Green Ribbon Schools
U.S. Department of Education Website: