March 28, 2015

Big Ideas: SEEDClassrooms Are Mobile Units for Teaching Sustainability

The 2-year-old son of Skanska sustainability manager Stacy Smedley celebrated his birthday in a Seattle parking lot. That’s because it was a temporary showcase for the prototype of the SEEDClassroom from the SEEDCollaborative—the acronym stands for Sustainable Education Every Day—and Smedley moonlights as the executive director. A trained architect, she designed the SEEDClassroom. She also negotiated a license with Modern Building Systems to fabricate the 900-square-foot mobile units, since it’s one of the approved manufacturers on the standard purchasing form used by public-school administrators nationwide.

She laments that U.S. schools are usually built as cheaply as possible: “The room should be a teacher, too, not just a box where kids learn.” With the SEEDClassroom, she predicts, the extra investment made up-front could be recouped in a decade through lower utility bills.

SEEDClassroom’s exposed plumbing and visible solar panels make no secret of harvesting rainwater and generating electricity. LED pendant fixtures supplement sunshine from tubular skylights and triple-glazed windows. Other green elements include vinyl-free carpet tiles and corkboard walls.

Seattle’s Perkins School is already using a SEEDClassroom as a “science cabin” for the kindergarten through the fifth grade. The first installation in the East greets field trips to the Center for Sustainable Landscapes at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh.

Recent Projects