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Applying the ‘Green Factor’ to Early Childhood Learning Environments

In Pittsburgh, the line between design and education is blurring – with beautiful results.

In 2010, PNC awarded a $100,000 grant from the PNC Foundation to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) to apply the principles of green design to spaces for the school system’s youngest students.  Working with the Pittsburgh Public School District, WPC selected two sites where the impact was likely to be greatest.  WPC worked collaboratively with teachers, school district staff and parents to create a maintainable design that would complement the curriculum.

The transformation at both sites has been remarkable.  In one, a total of 4,200 square feet of asphalt was removed from school grounds to make way for plants and greenery.  The space now features an outdoor classroom with flowering trees and log seating, as well as a “loopy maze” with stones, tall grasses, shrubs and bird feeders to attract wildlife.  At the other site, PNC volunteers helped create a child-sized bird’s nest that invites play and exploration, and a bird mosaic that enhances the natural surroundings.

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