Sustainability

Consistent with our mission, Gunston believes that stewardship of the natural environment is one of the most important values we can instill in our students, and it is our hope that they will continue these practices throughout their lives.

Perhaps the most unique feature of Gunston is our 35-acre waterfront campus. The school’s direct access to the Corsica River has developed a sense of environmental responsibility in both the students and faculty who live, study, and work here each day. The Gunston student experience is deeply intertwined with the waterfront, from the time they arrive to Gunston by boat their freshman year, to the time they disembark by boat as graduating seniors.

Gunston has just completed an institutional strategic planning process driven by our Board of Trustees and supported by the administration, faculty, and community. Echoing the language of our mission and philosophy, a prominent goal of the plan relates to our commitment to environmental stewardship: “Develop Gunston’s role as a regional and national leader for environmental teaching and learning.”

See how we are undertaking this challenge:

VISION

Through classwork and co-curricular programming, an ongoing pursuit of sustainable practices, intensive and rigorous environment-based educational experiences for all students across all disciplines, and diverse environmental stewardship opportunities for students, we fulfill our mission of educating environmentally-minded scholars, citizens, and leaders.

MAEOE GREEN SCHOOL

Gunston is a certified Green School through the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educators. Gunston first certified in 2011 and recertified in 2015. Our most recent application can be viewed here: www.gunston.weebly.com. We look forward to our third and final certification to become a Sustainable School in 2019.

COMPOSTING

Gunston composts all post consumer organic wastes in a simple three bin system on campus. We are committed to composting 100% of pre and post consumer organic waste by 2017.

RECYCLING

Gunston has moved to a single stream recycling hauler who can handle a wide array of materials. Members of the Environmental Club continue to carry out our recycling efforts on campus and the service is open to Gunston employees.

BOTTLELESS-WATER

Gunston has installed metered water bottle filling stations as a key part of its commitment to go plastic free by 2018. Single use water bottles will be phased out at all events by 2018 in favor of reusable bottles and compostable cups.

EARTH DAY

The Gunston School’s annual Earth Day celebration focuses on increasing student awareness of the surrounding environment. A wide variety of workshops are available for students to participate in, all geared toward fostering a relationship between students and the environment. Guests from local organizations are invited to spend the day with students and share their knowledge of environmental topics during these workshops.

SOLAR POWER

During the renovations of the Long Academic Building in 2015, each classroom was fitted with an energy efficient heat pump capable of drawing electricity from roof mounted solar panels!

EDUCATING FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Without question, Gunston students are living an era of social, economic, and environmental stress. As the next generation of stewards and leaders, we believe it is essential for students to understand and engage with a series of core issues that will prepare them for life beyond Gunston. By further embracing and adopting the Educating for Sustainability philosophy and Environment Based Education pedagogies within all courses across all grades, we move the issues of sustainability more into the center of Gunston’s teaching and learning experience.

NATURESCAPING

Located in the critical area, our activities have direct impact on the watershed. Gunston is committed to improving the environmental sustainability of the campus through planting native species, creating wildlife habitats, and reducing the carbon footprint of our grounds maintenance.

WILDLIFE HABITAT RESTORATION

Science classes utilize the existing of habitats on our campus for research and wildlife observation. Gunston will work to expand these habitats to include a pollinator planting, a meadow filled with species that attract pollinators, fruiting shrubs along the forest edges, a freshwater wetland, and rain gardens.

LIVING SHORELINE RESTORATION

The Gunston waterfront has recently undergone a significant transformation. In Fall of 2012, the school dedicated the “Molly Dock”, a fully restored and expanded facility that provides a superior platform upon which students can commune with the Corsica River, engage in environmental research, and participate in waterfront sports. Moreover, thanks to a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and in partnership with the Maryland Department of the Environment, in 2013 Gunston’s installed a “living shoreline” in order to combat the forces of erosion and provide a healthier habitat for aquatic life.

PAPER CONSERVATION

Gunston has taken significant steps to become a paperless institution through the use of the Google for schools suite, electronic newsletters, and secure portals for academic reporting. Additionally, all printers are set to automatically double side printing jobs.

OUTDOOR CLASSROOM

To support environment-based education, Gunston will expand the number of outdoor learning spaces.

HEALTHY FOOD

We recognize that food is fuel; it fuels our brains, supports our student-athletes, and creates a sense of community. Following our initial survey of the community, we adopted a wellness mission that expands upon our existing Statement of Philosophy. We are working closely with Sodexo to offer a menu that is socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable.

MARYLAND GROWS OYSTERS

Restoring wild oysters to the Chesapeake Bay is a key step in improving the water quality and clarity. Gunston assists with the Maryland Grows Oysters project by raising spat on shell in protective cages from the Molly Dock and seeding them on a protected wild reef each spring.

WATER QUALITY MONITORING

Gunston assists the Chester River Association with citizen science monitoring of the creeks the feed the Corsica, a tributary of the Chester River. The Corsica River is a model for EPA on collaborative restoration work involving landowners, municipalities, and nonprofits. Gunston is proud to be a part of these efforts.

GREEN BUILDING

Some of these major improvements include the replacement of nearly 50 energy-inefficient windows, a building insulation upgrade, the removal of window air-conditioners in exchange for energy-efficient split-systems, the integration of energy-efficient lighting in all buildings, and the installation of solar-powered HVAC on top of the Long Academic Building. Moreover, the septic systems for both academic buildings were replaced with state-of-the-art BAT systems.

ENERGY AUDIT

We are committed to setting rigorous benchmarks for energy conservation and seek to begin by establishing our current usage. Gunston is working with external auditors to establish the energy use per square foot of all campus buildings through the EPA’s Portfolio Manager.

WASTE/PURCHASING

The Gunston School has made a bold commitment to sustainability that affects decision making in many areas of our daily operations. We can greatly improve our environmental sustainability by conducting a thorough audit of our waste stream and altering our purchasing habits. The area of waste and purchasing is a highly visible and inclusive way to demonstrate our commitment to increased sustainability.

PARTNERSHIPS

Our list of strategic partnerships is lengthy, thanks mostly to two decades of environmental education programming around our Earth Day and Bay Studies programs. Collaborative partnerships are dynamic and ever evolving. We are excited to announce that we have furthered our partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and will be working together to present professional development and youth leadership workshops for students and educators throughout the region. Additionally, Gunston has brought together the Association of Independent Maryland & DC Schools, Virginia Association of Independent Schools, and the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington in an unprecedented collaboration to co-brand these workshops.

GREEN FACILITY USE AGREEMENT

Gunston’s 35 acre campus hosts many programmatic partners throughout the year. We ask every organization utilizing our campus to help us meet our sustainability goals from recycling to energy conservation.