On our campus, Common Ground seeks to explore practices and principles that will sustain both ourselves and our planet. Our students and community are partners in this work.

Our Springside Building: Modeling Sustainable Design

In spring 2016, Common Ground opened the doors of a new learning center on our campus — modeling sustainability, and giving our high school students the learning environment they deserve. The building has won top honors from the Connecticut and New England chapters of the American Institute of Architects. Check out the videos below — featuring the voices of students in our Sustainable Design course and our construction team — to learn more about this new building.  Thank you to the Greater New Haven Green Fund for supporting the production of these videos! Click the full screen box in the lower right during the video to watch a larger version.

Sustainable Design @ CG: 7 Videos, 7 Practices »
Systems
The Landscape
Laminated Timber
Materials
Acoustics
Geothermal
Orientation
Across Our Campus: Environmentally Sustainable Practices

Beyond our new building, Common Ground seeks for practical, real-world strategies to reduce global warming, limit our environmental footprint, and re-build connections with our natural environment.  And we are eager to share these strategies with members of the Common Ground community, young and old. Here are 10 of the environmental practices that you can explore at Common Ground:

  1. In 2007, Common Ground installed an array of photovoltaic solar panels on our school’s roof. The panels were provided through a generous donation by the Connecticut Clean Energy fund. See live data on solar generation at Common Ground.
  2. Common Ground produces thousands of pounds of food each year, avoiding transportation of food, which travels an average of 1500 miles in the United States. Though we are not a certified organic farm, we use organic growing methods to produce this food, which avoids chemical fertilizers (energy use and runoff issues) and pesticides.
  3. Students use existing CT Transit public bus service to get to and from school, and for many field trips, avoiding additional fuel consumption for buses.
  4. Common Ground participates in New Haven’s single stream recycling program — though there is lots of room for improvement!
  5. All of Common Ground’s organic waste is composted, along with leaves from the site. Common Ground’s compost is used to enrich our own gardens, and is available for sale to the public.
  6. Through a partnership with United Illuminating, Common Ground has retrofitted all of its classroom lighting to minimize energy use.
  7. Our students have installed rain barrels on our farmhouse; the water is used to irrigate our gardens. We also use drip irrigation in our production gardens, which minimizes water waste.
  8. In our cafeteria, students use reusable plates, silverware, cups and bowls. Students did research to analyze the environmental impact of various options for dishes, and Common Ground chose the materials that students found to be most sustainable.
  9. Common Ground uses simple design strategies to reduce heating costs. Our school building is built into the hillside, resulting in reduced heating cost in winter and cooling in summer.Solar Gain from the greenhouse on south side of the farmhouse reduces heating costs and energy use. Electronic thermostats turn down the heat at night and on weekends.
  10. Maple syrup is made from Common Ground’s trees using sustainably harvested firewood.