Sustainability (noun): “Sustainable development is built environment that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

When is a good time for our future generations to start learning about sustainability? Education is humanity’s best hope and most effective means in the quest to achieve sustainable future. Sustainability has become a priority and needs to be addressed as a school of thought from a very young age to be more effective and achieve better results. Research shows that sustainability education must begin in early childhood when children tend to learn, absorb, and retain values, attitudes, and form habits/behavioral patterns that will have long lasting impact in later life. Hence the goal of this thesis is to design an elementary school that teaches children the idea of sustainability at an early age to support establishing sustainability as a way of life. The school is intended to be a prototype mainly by being an active teaching tool for students through its architecture to help institute a better understanding of the principles of sustainability. The process involves research and providing a design solution for students who would reiterate the above belief for a sustainable future.

Currently sustainability is being more widely accepted and put into practice where educational organizations are embracing the concept of sustainable schools . The design exploration in this thesis is arrived at by investigating old and new educational facilities for methods being used to incorporate sustainability. Current green/sustainable school concepts and new trends, school sustainability policies and agendas, the objective and quantifying metrics, and tools employed to measure sustainability are some topics that would be reviewed upon both in literature and case studies. The effectiveness achieved due to these schools along with generic problems being faced in sustainable schools, including the impact on students (personal health) and their performance, are also comprehended within the research domain. Case studies of existing sustainable schools are examined to see how they are achieving their goals and as informants to the design proposal.

To achieve the above stated, a ‘systems approach’ towards sustainability is of primary importance. The systems approach in this context encompasses the ideology of how different metrics/branches of sustainability come together to act as one whole. This method implies integration of metrics such as daylighting, building envelope, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning), and the use of renewable resources in an interactive and inter-dependent dynamic web where the design of one attribute affects either positively or negatively on another attribute. Therefore, every aspect needs to be taken into consideration to avoid any incapacitation in the building systems. Thus, keeping all the metrics in sight of the design parameters helps guide a sustainable and synergetic output.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sustainability--Study and teaching (Elementary); Sustainable architecture--Study and teaching (Elementary)

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Architecture (M.Arch.)

Department, Program, or Center

Architecture (GIS)


Dennis A. Andrejko

Advisor/Committee Member

Jules Chiavaroli

Advisor/Committee Member

Nana-Yaw Andoh


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes