Best practice in developing urban environmental education and education for sustainability programs

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9 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 11 μήνες)

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Premier’s Visy Industries Environmental Education Scholarship






B
est practice in develop
ing

urban
environmental education and education
for sustainability progr
ams


Glen Halliday

Observatory Hill Environmental Education Centre, Sydney








Sponsored b
y



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Interest in urban environmental education (EE) and education for sustainability (EFS) is
increasing as rapid urbanisation emerges as one of the greatest challenges facing the
world today. The urbanisation processes, fuel
l
ed

by globalisation, environmental
degradation, rural unemployment and technological change, is forcing a global exodus
from rural to urban areas.

For developed countries like Australia, urbanisation has resulted in localised
environmental and social proble
ms in our cities. Sydney, for example, has had to address
environmental and social issues due to its increasing population growth. These issues
include:



U
rban design;



L
and clearing and urban sprawl;



T
ransport and infrastructure planning;



D
isposal of solid

waste;



W
ater, noise and air pollution;



P
reservation of biodiversity and heritage;



W
ater scarcity;



S
ocial isolation;



L
oss of social capital and socio economic inequality.

These issues contribute to many urban EE and EFS programs worldwide.

Many of the
more serious urban environmental problems in developed countries have
been mitigated by proactive legislation and advancements in technology. However, the
wider impact of the developed world’s largely urban population on the all
ecosystem
s has
focused crit
ical world attention on urban places as the sources of widespread
environmental degradation.


Affluent urban dwellers draw on vast amounts of resources to supply their needs, and
to
remove their waste. This is known as the
ir

ecological footprint. Affluent
urban dwellers
use a disproportionate share of the world’s resources and are placing global ecosystems
at risk.

The Third World Environmental Education Conference
,

in Turin, focused delegates’
attention o
n growing ecological footprints

and the urgency of a
ddressing the wo
rld’s
environmental problems

through environmental education for sustainability. Presenters
explained that most global
ecosystem
s are at risk and it is critical that the concept of
sustainability and the understanding of the interconnectedn
ess of global

ecosystems form

a key component of urban EE. Our very future may depend on our students


knowledge
of, and positive action towards, sustainable resource use and environmental management.
Conference delegates mentioned a number of challenges w
e face as educators:



T
o teach our students about the effects of western urban lifestyles on global
environments, and to offer positive solutions and alternatives which focus on the
changes we can make by living more sustainably without compromising our sta
ndard
of living;



T
o change teaching and learning techniques into action outcomes;



To ensure that w
orld education curriculums are

flexible enough for the integrative
nature of EFS;



T
o link environmental rights with human rights
.

The most widely accepted wa
y to solve environmental problems is through ecologically
sustainable development focusing on cultural change (EFS).

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In reducing our ecological footprints on earth, most urban planners agree that some
basic guidelines should be considered which promote gr
eater sustainability. These
guidelines also form the foundations of many urban EE and EFS programs worldwide.
Many of the centres visited, have received critical acclaim (in their respective countries
and internationally), as demonstrating world’s best pra
ctice in urban environmental
education. Their activities encapsulate the following
10
guidelines:

1.
Mandating a compact urban design

This guideline safeguards rural hinterlands and decreases urban sprawl. Sprawling cities
create social, environmental and
economic costs for city governments. Chicago is
addressing this issue with a successful incentive scheme for developers who utilise
brownfield

rather than
greenfield

sites for new developments.


One example, the Green Technology Center, became the first in

the
United States

to
achieve the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental design

rating. Th
e

centre
showcases world’s best practice in environmental building design, and

it

is an inspiring
example of how a strong environmentally committed city gover
nment can take a lead in
promoting urban consolidation strategies and simultaneously encourage and promote
sustainable environmental design.

In London, the Greater London Planning Authority has established many schemes to
encourage consolidation
,

such as t
he London Docklands Development. A docklands
fieldtrip demonstrated the massive transformation of this once depressed region, now
rivalling the
central business district

as the financial capitol of London. A vital
component is the inclusion of a fast and e
fficient public transport system, linking the
docklands to the rest of London.

Th
e

area was a model for similar dockland redevelopments worldwide, including those in
Australia. Th
e

once derelict area close to the city centre is an example of how
governmen
t planning in tandem with business can stimulate urban consolidation and
decrease the social, environmental and economic costs of sprawling cities.

Similarly, the 2012 Olympic site, on display at the New London Architecture Centre, will
also initiate conso
lidation in a currently depressed and underdeveloped area of London.

NSW teachers can stimulate students


interest in urban design and planning issues and
highlight the positive benefits of compact cities as a way to address problems of urban
sprawl. Sever
al connected outcome groups

and key learning areas promote the teaching
of these issues. Urban
e
nvironmental fieldwork, city models, mapping skills, or classroom
debates to examine the benefits of apartm
ent living over suburban sprawl

are all ways to
integ
rate this topic into connected outcome groups

and key learning areas.

2. Creating liv
e
able communit
ies through high quality design

‘Liveable communities’ describes the way new and existing buildings affect the character
and quality of an area to create wel
l
-
proportioned buildings and attractive spaces. It also
refers to facilities and services that meet residents


basic needs and build community
cohesion through open space, community gardens or leisure facilities. ‘Liveable cities’ are
generally sustainable
. The urban environment has aesthetic, social, cultural and
sustainability characteristics which contribute to its overall design.

Many urban EE
c
entres actively engage students in understanding these characteristics
and in clarifying students’ values tow
ard their own urban environments. By doing so,
students will be better able to make informed decisions about the future of the
communities in which they live, and be better able to contribute to their overall design.
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Children are an important component of
any city and do have opinions about their
physical surroundings.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) is a UK
organ
isation I visited

which promotes the inclusion of children in architecture and
planning. Through various seminar
s, events, publications and organisations supported by
CABE, children (K

12) are taught urban planning and architectural design concepts with
the aim of raising their awareness of built environment issues. The
c
ommission
coordinates several institutions su
ch as
t
he Building


Building Exploratory
,

Hackney
,

London
.

Exploratory in Hackney
,

London. This hands
-
on exhibition space encourages students to
explore their local environment through models, maps, dioramas and urban planning
activities. The centre encou
rage
s

exploration of elementary design, promote
s

critical
thinking about the use of spaces in local communities, and help
s

clarify values about the
use and aesthetic qualities of architecture and urban spaces.

The Hammersmith and Fulham Urban Studies Centr
e (another CABE organisation)
encouraged active student enquiry into local communities, often with support of local
councils a
nd other funding bodies. Their Collaborative Care Centre

project highlighted
the importance of children’s participation in urban d
esign. The project involved
developers consulting local students about the redevelopment of a site into a
Collaborative Care Centre. Students were encouraged to understand the processes
involved in redeveloping the site, and their design ideas were taken i
nto consideration as
part of the redevelopment process.
Another project, entitled Safer Routes to Schools
,
required students to explore problems of access to school.


Pedestrianisation


is a design strategy to achieve a more liveable, sustainable urban
en
vironment, and many cities are adopting this strategy. In Glasgow
,

Scotland, a highly
pedestrianised city,
the Lighthouse Centre

encourages students to explore architecture
and d
esign concepts. An exhibition,
Remodelling the Clyde
,

displayed students desig
n ideas,
modelled in clay, on a large
-
scale map of their city.
Another Lighthouse initiative,
Design
for Learning: 21st Century Schools
, involves
students

working with architects, designers,
education officers and teachers, to design their future learning

environments.

NSW teachers can highlight the positive benefits that good urban design plays in creating
livable communities. By stimulating students’ interest in local urban design and planning
issues, especially those that contribute to
liveable

and sust
ainable cities, we can foster a
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culture of active citizenship leading to future improvements in our urban environments.
Methodology ranges from urban fieldwork, board games (e.g. Earthsavers
), computer
games (e.g. SimCity
)
,

computer programs (e.g. Google E
arth, Geo flight), or
competitions (e.g. Ki
ds Design Challenge run by the Technology in Primary Schools

association or the Sustainable Living Competition run by the University of NSW).

3. Encouraging sustainable building design and sustainable housing


S
ustainable buildings


refers to the materials used and the operations involved in
running built structures.

The most successful strategies in

sustainable building design
have

been the development of green buildings, the preservation and adaptive reuse of
e
xisting buildings
,

and the


Beddington Zero Energy
D
evelopment
.

supply of different forms of housing
,

including alternative modes of accommodation. An
example of world’s best practice in sustainable building design is The Bedd
ington Zero
Energy Developme
nt
in Beddington, London. Th
at

housing project for 100 residents
was designed around a number of sustainability principles
, including

zero carbon
emissions, zero waste emissions, sustainable transport use, use of local and sustainable
materials, sustainabl
e water use, protection and provision of natural habitats and wildlife,
protection of local culture and heritage, promotion of equity and fair trade
,

and an
emphasis on health and happiness. The scale of the operation and its viability for future
housing d
esign is very impressive.

In Bristol
,

U
nited
K
ingdom, the Create Centre consists

of a sustainable home and
information centre established by Bristo
l City Council. Students visited

this centre with
the Bristol Architecture Centre

(a CABE organ
isa
tion), whi
ch was running fieldwork to
celebrate National Construction Week. Students learnt about green building design by
visiting the sustainable home and information centre as well as touring
,

with the
developers, a new green office of HSBC Bank, as part of the u
rban renewal of the Bristol
harbourside.

NSW teachers can highlight the positive environmental benefits of sustainable building
materials and design, and ensure students play a role in the sustainable operations of
buildings they occupy. This may be simply

turning off lights in unattended classrooms
(or at home)
,

or

collaborating with others in redesigning schools in a more sustainable
manner. Th
e

process is gaining momentum across the
United Kingdom,

with
its

aging
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school stock, and with the help
of the CA
BE, in supporting the
Building

Schools for the
Future Program

run by the UK Department of Education and Skills. The NSW
EE
Policy

provides opportunities for schools to develop a school environmental
management plan, which
is

designed to involve students in

understanding and
supporting the sustainability of their school environment.

4. Provision of sustainable transport and mobility infrastructure

Reducing car dependency, encouraging multi
-
modal integrated public transport systems,
increasing green transport

(
such as

electric trams or bicycles) and encouraging safe
walking are features of sustainable cities. Sustainable compact cities rely on inexpensive
and integrated public transport systems. Planners are realising that the provision of
pedestrian and cycle

infrastructure promotes prosperity and a healthier population. These
concepts were emphas
ise
d during a meeting with Professor Hugh Barton, Executive
Director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Healthy Cities and Urban Policy.
Professor Barton emphas
ise
d
that one method to promote


Chicago City Hall
r
ooftop
.

sustainable cities was to focus on the public health benefits of planning for sustainability
,

such as provi
ding

bike lanes to encourage activities

that

combat obesity or provi
ding

useable parklands t
o encourage participation and reduce youth boredom.

Trips to and from school by private vehicles constitute a growing proportion of road
usage and many urban EE programs are involved in devising strategies to reduce th
at

trend. Accordingly, the Brooklyn C
hildren’s Museum contained a computer
simulation
exhibition entitled
Together in the City
. This fun interactive exhibit encouraged the use of
public transport to explore community events such as the St Patrick’s Day parade.

NSW teachers can highlight the i
mportance of public transport as a vital component of a
sustainable city. Debate should be held in school communities to address the problem of
growing private car use to and from school, and into finding safer alternatives
,

such as
walking buses, designat
ed bike lanes or subsid
ise
d integrated public transport.

5
.

Greening
c
ities

This guideline involves prote
cting and promoting urban green
space through parks,
gardens, city farms, ecological parks, urban wildlife reserves and corridors. It includes
greening
built structures
,

such as rooftops, walls, streets and schools. Most cities have set
aside tracts of land for a variety of uses
,

including recreation, conservation, biodiversity
habitats or future expansion. Also, much of the built environment has the capa
city to be
further greened through innova
tive design strategies such as
green rooftops.

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These green ‘oases’ within urban areas provide ideal settings where the interface of the
built environment with more natural ecosystems can be explored. The Crissy Fiel
d
Studies Cent
er

in San Francisco,
California
, conducts a number of urban ecology
programs on the site of a former rubbish dump. The centre is on a recreated tidal marsh
and conducts programs on wetland flora and fauna, urban runoff, waste reduction,
envir
onmental justice, national parks, land regeneration and environmental stewardship.

Similarly, the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment, located in Prospect Park
,

Brooklyn, New York, conducts urban fieldwork divided into two streams, urban ecology
and
urban design. Most of the ecology programs are located in Prospect Park and are
designed to foster a sense of stewardship an
d environmental awareness among

students.
Urban design programs occur in various locations and are designed to help students
develop

an awareness and appreciation of the
built environment through hands
-
on
programs, experiential learning and inquiry based methodologies.


Crissy Field
Studies
Cent
er,

San Francisco
.

NSW teachers have opportunities to use school grounds or local natural
areas for urban
ecology studies, or to use any of the 22
endangered ecological communities (
EECs
)

and
zoo education centre
s for fieldwork. The
EE Policy

support material provides examples
of integrating urban ecology into key learning areas.

6
.

Restructur
ing urban ecosystems to reduce a city’s ecological
footprint

‘Most cities have linear metabolisms, taking resources and discarding waste without much
concern about environmental impacts’ (Giradet
,

Cities People Planet
). Sustainable cities
need to mimic the

circular metabolism of natural systems. For students, the
understanding of their own ecological footprint is a key component in understanding
how their city functions as an urban ecosystem.

Th
at

concept was demonstrated at the Notebaert Nature Museum in C
hicago
,

Illinois
,
where an exhib
ition entitled
Climate Chaos

taught in a fun and interesting way how we all
contribute to global warming. Also located at th
e museum was the
Extreme Greenhouse,
wher
e students learnt through hands
-
on activities how we are al
l connected to global
environments.

The Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment also ran an in
-
school program entitled
How Big is Your Footprint
, whil
e

the CREATE Centre
,

in Bristol
, in the United Kingdom,

focused on the problems of waste generation.

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NS
W teachers have the opportunity to use ecological footprint calculators to identify for
students their footprints and those of their community. Some EECs offer programs
based around ecological footprint calculations, whil
e

a visit to urban infrastructure
f
acilities like sewerage treatment works or waste dumps can visually demonstrate to
students their contribution to impacts on natural environments. The
EE Policy
’s support
material
s

provide a
dvice on environmental auditing

and strategies to manage energy,
w
aste, biodiversity and water. The University

of
N
ew
S
outh
W
ales
’ Sustainable Living
Competition is designed to stimulate school action on reducing ecological footprints.

7. Encouraging sustainable energy use

This
guideline
involves reducing our dependence

on fossil fuels by decentralising energy
production, achieving greater energy efficiency
,

for instance,

through passive solar design
or conservation, and promoting renewable energy. The Chicago Center for Green
Technology showcased solar technology, whil
e

the Beddington Zero Energy
Development promoted biomass use.

NSW teachers can use the
EE Policy
’s support material
s

to initiate environmental audits
in energy consumption and to develop a school
energy reduction campaign. The Solar in
Schools Program

and
local councils can also offer assistance.

8. Maintaining and preserving built and cultural herita
ge

Urban planners place a high priority on maintaining built cultural heritage in our urban
environments, often through preservation, adaptive re
-
use or sympa
thetic infill. Many
c
entres promote heritage appreciation as part of their education programs. The National
Trust for Scotland maintains many culturally important properties throughout Scotland.
Their educati
on officer for Western Scotland

emphasised the r
ole of linking into the
national curriculum, managing risk assessment, providing accessible transport options,
and developing strategies which make the properties ‘come alive’ for students. At Pollok
House, for example, various historical p
eriods of the ho
use (est. 1742)

were
demonstrated by staff dressed as costumed servants. These staff entertained their ‘guests’
with amusing stories of their daily life and that of their masters.

NSW
t
eachers can utilise EECs,
t
he Historic Houses Trust,
t
he National Trust
, local
heritage trails, historical societies, the local community and even some school buildings
for heritage appreciation studies.

9. Promoting positive urban processes to create livable
environments

Some urban processes
,

such as urban renewal, urban co
nsolidation, counter urban
isa
tion
and gentrification, enhance the liveability and sustainability of urban environments. At
the Barcelona Field Studies Centre, students from the Amsterdam International School
conducted fieldwork into the effects of urban re
generation in El Ravel
,

an
underdeveloped district of Barcelona. Students used an index of residential quality to
measure decreasing levels of gentrification extending from the development of a new
Contemporary Art Museum.

For NSW
t
eachers, using EECs and
local area studies are two strategies to explore the
urban processes at work in shaping our cities and contributing to, or diminishing,
their

sustainability.

10. Providing responsible city governance

This guideline involves publishing sustainability indica
tors and guidelines, leading by
example, allocating environmental budgets, enforcing local Agenda 21 principles and
conducting public environmental awareness campaigns. Many city governments are
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aware of the need to lead by example when it comes to mandati
ng environmental
sustainability practices and to showcase best practi
ce among

their citizens. The Greater
London Authority’s new City Hall is a model of sustainability, whil
e

the
m
ayor’s
initiatives on traffic congestion and improving public spaces show th
e
a
uthority’s
commitment to environmental improvement.

Schools too can provide responsible governance in environmental matters by taking the
initiative and leading by example. This includes providing budgets for environmental
initiatives, celebrating envir
onmental days and achievements, having in place a working
school environmental management plan and committee
,

and mode
lling
best practice in
environmental management

to students
.

The urban environmental education programs visited focus on the major princip
les and
planning guidelines of sustainable cities outlined
in this report

and use

a variety of
methodologies to teach them. These include urban fieldwork, in
-
school programs,
exhibition centres containing interactive displa
ys and games, seminars, purpose
-
b
uilt
housing and city models. The challenge for NSW teachers is to translate the principles of
sustainable cities into activities that engage students in understanding urban
environments and
to
promote skills in solving environmental problems. There are
nu
merous opportunities to do this within the context of relevant connected outcome
groups, key learning areas and the Environmental Education Policy. Our greatest
challenge is to empower students to translate the lessons they have learnt into positive,
susta
inable changes in their own lifestyles.

Acknowledg
ments

My sincere thanks go to all sponsors and administrators who are involved in the NSW
Premier’s Teacher Scholarships Program, particularly
t
he Hon Morris Iemma, Premier of
NSW
,

and Mr Lloyd Christison
from the Premier’s Scholarship Secretariat. The
scholarship provided an invaluable opportunity to observe and participate in urban
environmental education programs worldwide, and meet with many other educators who
are actively promoting sustainable and jus
t urban environments for current and future
citizens of our planet.

Special thanks to Mr Sam Lipski, CEO
of
Visy Industries, for the generous support of
Visy Industries, and also to Alex King, Brian Harkin and Patrick Walsh for all their
support

Bibliogra
phy

Cities People Planet
, Herbert Giradet
.

Greening Cities
, Chris Johnson
.

Reshaping
t
he Built Environment
,

Ecology Ethics and Economics, Charles J
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Kibert
.

Towards Sustainable Communities
, Mark Roseland
.


London, Canary Wharf and Docklands
, Professor S
.
K
.

Al naib
.

The Green City
, Low, Gleeson, Green & Radovic
.

Green Urbanism
, Tim Beaton
.

Superbia
, D
.

Chiras and D
.

Wann
.

Great Cities of the World
, M
.

Catteneo and J
.

Trifoni
.

Discussion Paper
,

Sustainable Cities 2005
, House of Representatives standing commit
tee
on environment and heritage.

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Sustainable
Settlements:

A Guide
f
or Planners
,

Designers
a
nd Developers
, H. Barton, G. Davis and
R. Guise.

University of West England
.