Top Stories

Sustainability at ASH

Sustainability & School Buildings
Early Childhood Center
Several sustainability changes have been made over the past couple of years to improve the sustainability of the school buildings and surroundings. The Early Childhood Center (ECC) was built in 2013 due to increased student numbers. The ECC is a special building for Elementary School children from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 1. Part of the Early Childhood Center building was formerly an old farmhouse (+/- 1650).
The construction features many sustainable architectural aspects such as bamboo floorings and Accoya wood that was used on the outside building construction and which is the world's leading high technology long-life wood. The ECC is using rainwater to flush the toilets and uses a geothermal heat pump and storage for hot/cold air 100 meters underground for climate control. The Sport Hall has 300 m2 of solar panels on the roof and the Atrium has 200 m2 of solar panels. The building has Green roofs on part of the Sport Hall, bike shed and storage shed. Green roofs perform important environmental functions: insulates (lower energy costs), filters CO2, water storage, and attracts insects and birds. Also it gives the roof membrane a longer life and it looks nice. Last but not least the ECC features a school garden and natural playground made out of tree trunks.
ASH Main Campus
Elementary, Middle and High School
The Main Campus has three divisions, Upper Elementary School, Middle School and High School. In 1989 a new campus was built, next to the Rijksstraatweg in Wassenaar which was opened by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and First Lady Barbara Bush.
Several sustainability changes have been made since then to improve the school buildings and surroundings. Besides installing double glazed windows, cavity walls and insulation during the time of construction, LED bulbs were installed in the Cafeteria, stairways and Theater in 2016. Well over 1000 neon lights in classrooms, common areas, and halls were replaced with high-frequency energy efficient lights. The theater stage lights will be replaced by LED lighting in the summer of 2017. Printers are set to default for double-sided printing and for black and white printing, only teachers can still make color prints, and recycled paper is used for all printers. In addition, the move to networked printers two years ago has dramatically reduced student printing wastage.
Rotating entrance doors were installed to keep the main entrance free from draft. ASH recycles food, paper, plastic and waste. Energy supplier Eneco provides the school with 100% green energy. On the majority of doorposts, stickers are attached to remind people to turn of the lights when they are leaving a classroom, bathroom or office. Sensors are installed in most common areas (hallways, Atrium, gym, etc.) so that lights go out unless the space is occupied. All bathrooms had the water taps replaced with water-saving push-button taps that turn off after a few seconds.
Regarding the School Cafeteria, it is ASH’s policy to encourage students to make healthy choices about food and beverages. The students are also encouraged to drink water from the water fountains and to use reusable bottles over disposable water bottles. Water fountains are in several main locations in the hallways through the entire school building, and a style of water cooler was chosen to allow filling water bottles more easily.
Plastic cups have been replaced by paper cups and packaging will be reduced, and if unavoidable it will be packed in paper as much as possible. Plastic cutlery and plates are not allowed.
ASH Building Plans     
Extension of Sport Hall 2017 - 2018
Next school year the Sport Hall on the Main Campus will be renovated and a total of 867m2 educational space will be added. Many sustainability measures will be put in like better insulation, more natural daylight, lower energy LED lights, automatic on/off lightening, “cradle to cradle” sustainability materials, Medium Density Fiberboard (board made from waste wood materials and recycled paper), water-based paint, Accoya (long-term sustainable) wood, etc. In addition, a new air-handling system will be installed that more effectively removes excess heat and saves it for re-use, for more optimal temperatures and lower energy use. Other plans to make ASH more committed to sustainability include investing in LED lighting on the parking lot, a greener main campus by building a large underground parking garage and bike shed, research on solar panels, charging stations for electric cars, and the creation of a HS/MS Cafeteria with an outdoor area and garden.               
Sustainability & Student Involvement
ASH is holder of the Eco-Schools Accreditation since 2011 and Green Flag status since 2014. In addition ASH received the Fair Trade School Accreditation in 2016. Eco-Schools is an international program of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that aims to empower students to be the change our sustainable world needs by engaging them in fun, action-orientated and socially responsible learning. Various Eco-Teams, active in all three divisions, consisting of students, parents, teachers and the school management are working in different ways towards raising green awareness in school and the wider community, embedding sustainability into the curriculum and fulfilling the Eco-Schools pillars that incorporate 10 main themes, including: School Building and Surroundings, Climate Change, Energy, Global Citizenship, Health & Wellbeing, Litter, School Grounds, Transport, Waste, and Water.
Student-led Environmental Review
Each year students carry out an Environmental Review to measure how the school is doing regarding these 10 themes. They measure and record change and find out what works and what doesn’t, reflect on the outcomes and propose recommendations for improvement. They learn to develop the findings into activities to make the environment in and around school more sustainable for the school’s community. Results and findings are analyzed in the ECO-Team and presented to the school management. The review consists of 10 score cards, one for each of the 10 ECO-Pillars. Scores might range from a minimum of zero to a maximum of 75. In the right top of this page you can see outcomes from last school year and the targets set for this year.
Student-led Sustainability Conference
One of the activities planned for this school year was the organization of a Sustainability Conference with guest speakers and workshop leaders from Estec/ESA,  Ikea, Heineken, Start-up companies and the Dutch Climate Ambassador. The educational theme of the conference was how do companies and organizations nowadays deal with smart sustainable solutions and the sustainable demands of the real world.
Sustainability Coordinator and Student Supervisor
The Eco-School program's methodology consists of Seven Steps that the school needs to adopt each school year in order to stay accredited. The Re-Accreditation Tasks are:
  • Step 1 Establishment of the Eco-Schools Committee
  • Step 2 Environmental Review
  • Step 3 Action Plan
  • Step 4 Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Step 5 Curriculum Linking
  • Step 6 Informing and involving the wider community
  • Step 7 Eco Code
ASH has a Sustainability Coordinator who is in charge of all 7 steps, as well as overseeing the different Eco-Teams and Eco-Projects. As we’ve monitored the workload and obligations to maintain our Eco-Schools Green Flag status, we recognize the work is likely better managed by two people and ASH will offer two Sustainability Coordinator paid, extra-duty positions as from next school year onwards.  
Sustainability and Curriculum

Environmental Studies
Integrating sustainability into the ASH curriculum directly through science, social studies and environmental science classes or indirectly in other subject areas through innovative teaching in High School, Middle School, and to some extent, in Upper Elementary School. The objective of embedding sustainability into the curriculum is to educate young people throughout the entire school. Students should gain an understanding of how real life environmental issues are dealt with in a real life setting. In High School students have the option to choose a subject called Environmental Studies (EVS).
Sustainability activities embedded into the curriculum might range from entire units to research projects and class discussions. There are ecological units in High School and Middle School covering in depth and broad topics such as the effect of human behavior on the climate and the wide range of options on how to protect earth’s resources and environment.
Several Eco-Projects are ongoing such as research on fossil and renewable energy sources, research projects on putting solar panels on the roofs of ASH, diesel fuel versus electric cars investigation, essay topics on renewable energy and recycling, art class recycled material projects, foreign languages texts on various environmental topics, topics in literature about ideas concerning nature, investigating landfills, discussions on healthy lifestyle and food choice, Middle School water quality and scarcity project, research projects on how we can reduce ASH’ carbon footprint, investigation on biodiversity and pollution levels in local canals, habitats for good bugs to protect gardens and the complexity and challenges of sustainable gardening.
Eco-Lessons and Extra-Curricular Eco-Clubs
Eco-Lessons are taught in Middle School Advisory classes on the topics of Litter, Energy, Environment, Climate Change, Hygiene, Transportation, Safety, Food, Water and Communication. This program has been designed by the Eco-team to inform students about the Eco-Pillars. Different student groups are active in school and dealing with topics they care about. The High School Green Team was initiated for the organization of the student-lead Sustainability Conference, High School Greenpeace wanted to focus on food safety and plastic pollution in the oceans, High School Nexplorers are studying the nexus between water, energy and food, High School Garden Club is growing vegetables in the school garden, High School & Middle Schoor Fair Trade are promoting fair trade products in school, and the Middle School Green Team chose to focus on the Cafeteria. Their project is about reducing disposable water bottles and food packaging, healthy food options and improved recycling in the cafeteria. Last but not least, the Elementary School Biking Buddies are setting up a system to promote biking to school with friends.
See the seconde graph in the top right of this page, it shows the ECO-Pillars presented by ASH Grade Levels 2016.
Sustainable Curriculum Survey
A Sustainability Curriculum Survey was conducted on March 18th, 2016 among all 3 divisions. Surveys were emailed to 155 teachers of which 45 replied with a return rate of approximately 30%. There were only 3 respondents from Elementary School, therefore the data for ES/ECC is not representative. Middle School accounts for 18 respondents and High School for 20 respondents. In school year 2017/2018 a new research will be conducted online in Atlas, a program which all teachers at ASH use to record their teaching units. This will provide a 100% data recovery and will provide accurate information on areas for growth. The entire report including all the details is published on insideASH.
The 3rd graph on the right top of this page shows the ECO-Pillars presented by ASH Divisions 2016.
University preparatory program for ages 3-18. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

American School of The Hague