Greening the dorms

Colleges and universities here have once again increased their tuition fees and CHED has approved it (read here and here).  This was met with student demonstrations at the national capital.  The students have a point.  I think that students (and parents) would think twice about protesting the hike if there was clear and justifiable reason not to.  If CHED listens a bit more, what the student protesters are actually saying is, beyond the amount of tuition, students (and their parents), if they were to pay the increase this school year, want to get back their money’s worth.  In other words, is there a checklist CHED uses to approve tuition hike?  If there’s one, what are the items on the list?  If I’m the student, I’d look for improved facilities, such as green dormitories.  I mean, with , say, PHP50,000 and more a year in tuition, excluding dorm fee, a student expects (her folks as well)  to sit and live in-school less like a rat.

Schools argue that the tuition increase will partly fund facilities improvement but to what extent do the schools intend to improve them?  Students (and parents) want significant improvements, not just the usual repainting here and there.

Resilience building in a changing climate also extends to schools where children and young people practically spend their entire waking days in.  Incidences of asthma and skin diseases in the country are high among this group.  Given the time duration this group spend in school and learning centers, a researcher can assume, and test it, that it is highly probable that school- rather than home-based factors are in question.  More so when students also spend their nights in-campus.  Are school buildings safe? Are they designed with students’ needs in mind?  Do they meet international standards?  Are their buildings LEED certified?  These questions should be in CHED’s checklist.  No school should be allowed to raise it’s tuition when it does not meet learning standards, which includes those applicable to the physical learning environment, the school buildings.  Morever, minimum (standards), in the context of DRR and CCA or resilience building, now means school buildings conform to disaster and climate resilient standards.

A few examples here:

University of Bradford, The Green

It boasts energy usage monitors, solar-powered water heaters, extra insulation for heat retention, rainwater ponds, recycling facilities, sustainably harvested timber, low-energy fittings, and low-flow plumbing fixtures, among other features. Even better, it’s designed to promote community among the students, offering great outdoor garden spaces around the building.

Pomona College, Stontag and Pomona Hall

Built to house 150 students, the buildings are beautiful modern structures of glass, wood, and steel, but they have some pretty amazing eco-friendly features under their sleek surfaces. Some of the highlights include solar hot water heaters, solar panels, high efficiency windows, lighting, and HVAC systems, low-flow fixtures, rainwater recycling, an underground parking lot, a green roof, native landscaping, and recycled and local construction materials.

Warren Wilson College, Ecodorm

The dorm is very small, housing only 36 students, one R.A. and one R.D., but offers a living situation unmatched by any other dorm on campus. Aside from the green features, the building is unique in that caged pets are allowed and there are two full-size kitchens and an outdoor garden where residents can grow food. The building itself is home to solar panels, a large rainwater collection system, high-tech insulating panels, recycled and salvaged materials, and low emissions paints, helping it earn its platinum certification.


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