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Perkins Eastman is a global architecture and design firm guided by the belief that design can have a positive and lasting impact on people’s lives and the environment. For over a decade, Perkins Eastman has helped DC Public Schools and the DC Department of General Services create sustainable, high-performance learning environments for the families of Washington, DC. Building upon these innovative new learning environments, Perkins Eastman and EcoRise have joined forces to help teachers and students connect to their built environments and more deeply understand sustainability. Together, we are creating a culture of sustainability at schools in Washington, DC including Banneker High School, C. W. Harris, and West Education Campus.

The C. W. Harris Elementary School modernization project began in 2018. As Perkins Eastman’s design team and the contractors worked to update the school building and its campus, EcoRise trained the school teachers and staff to make authentic connections between core instructional concepts and the sustainable features of their school building and grounds. By providing curriculum, training, and support to teachers, they now leverage their modernized building and school grounds as a powerful STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teaching tool that connects green building features to classroom instruction.

Through the EcoRise curricula, students have discovered what sustainability means to them and their community. They are empowered as active participants in the sustainability of their built and natural environment. C. W. Harris students have even applied for and received several Eco-Audit Grants over the past four years, funding student-driven initiatives such as reusable water bottles and utensils, a mental wellness space, the installation of a school weather station, pollinator and bird habitat awareness, cafeteria-to-garden composting (including rotating compost bins and worm farms), hydroponic herb gardens, and the installation of 6 raised garden beds to provide fresh food to families in the community.

C. W. Harris educators pose for a group photo after the Intro to EcoRise workshops in Fall 2018.

C. W. Harris Elementary students pose with their new compost tumbler bin, purchased with an EcoRise Eco-Audit Grant, in 2019.