Kaohsiung American School becomes Taiwan’s first LEED-certified campus | U.S. Green Building Council
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Posted in LEED
Published on
Written by
Posted in LEED

Kaohsiung American School (KAS), located in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, nurtures students to become world citizens through a multinational community and diverse educational methods. When it sought to develop a state-of-the-art campus, KAS committed to creating a sustainable and ecologically responsible school. The new campus building, completed last April, was awarded LEED Silver on Dec. 9, 2015 and is the first preK-12 school in Taiwan to be rated using LEED v4.

Meg Shieh is a 12th grade student at KAS. As a member of the school’s LEED committee and president of the science club, she educates students, faculty and members of her community on the features and benefits of LEED. Through her efforts to establish green campus tours, she has helped cement KAS as a leading green school on the world stage. Here, she shares her perspective on how the school functions as a learning tool to empower students to become sustainability natives, and the overwhelmingly positive feedback KAS has received from students, parents, school leaders, businesspersons and government officials alike.

I first became a part of the KAS LEED committee this past February, joining our superintendent, high school principal, elementary and middle school principal, IT director and a science teacher. As part of our commitment to create a sustainable and ecologically responsible campus, the LEED committee partnered with the school’s science club to select and train students to give “green” tours that describe the eco-friendly facilities on campus and their impact on our community.

Over the course of a month, I trained club members in giving tours, making sure that they could effortlessly convey their knowledge of the facilities and their impacts on our local and global community. Each guide addresses the main concerns and goals of each age group. For adults, we stress the safety, health and education of the students. For students, we address the convenience of the facilities and the way they could be used both in and out of the classroom.

The school’s eco-friendly features include a green roof, which helps reduce the heat island effect and provides habitat for a variety of organisms. Rainwater collected from the courtyard gutters is gathered in the basement in a reservoir, which allows the school to pump rainwater upward to water the plants surrounding the building without wasting water. Solar panels not only help save electricity, but also give students a chance to conduct research by gathering data regarding how much energy has been conserved.

Bike racks and a new shower facility encourage both students and faculty members to reconsider driving to school. Additionally, a bus stop and train station are located adjacent to the school, making it easier for members of the school population to decrease their carbon footprint.

The auditorium, the pride and joy of KAS, is made of maple wood held together by nontoxic glues, and coated with low-volatile-organic-compounds paint. Not only does this reduce the risk to human health, it also cuts down on the amount of volatile organic compounds released into the air each year, especially in a place as humid as Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Tours were given during the KAS Fun Fair on April 25, 2015 to a large audience of parents and students, during the Grand Opening on May 8 to a wider audience, and on May 27 to visiting students from local schools. On May 28, I joined our superintendent, Dr. Thomas Farrell, in giving a tour of our new building to high-ranking Taiwanese government officials, representatives from businesses in China, and visiting U.S. officials. On Nov. 24, our guides led 100 local school principals who wished to see how students interact and thrive in their new learning environment.

The responses from those who went on the tours were all of great awe for what KAS had created. Parents exclaimed at how the school would be environmentally friendly and better for the health of its students and teachers. Students were excited to try out the new facilities, looking forward to the research they could soon conduct. Government officials were delighted to hear answers to their questions given by a 16-year-old student. Nearly everyone was impressed by the amount of insight and content our high school students were able to provide.

The KAS mission statement is BIGwe want our students to be Balanced individuals, Independent learners and Global citizens, and what better way to accomplish that goal than by becoming a LEED-certified school? Not only does LEED certification emphasize our mission statement, but it also adds to our goal of focusing on creativity. LEED certification has made it easier for our students to connect with the outside community, while always having a constant reminder that one person can make a big difference, especially in bettering the environment.