Building the Philippines’ first eco-friendly school

Ateneo de Davao University is building a new campus for its senior high school that is being touted as the first environmentally responsible school in the Philippines. The campus has been designed to create a contemporary, sustainable and transformative learning environment following Pope Francis’ environmental directives in his encyclical, Laudato si’.  The groundbreaking ceremony was held on February 15 and the school is expected to be completed in May 2019.

Fr Joel E Tabora SJ, President of Ateneo de Davao University, said that the new school’s facilities “will help mould its students to become environmentally aware and ecologically responsible learners”.

The one-hectare campus will comprise four buildings. The main building will have a town centre containing commercial spaces and food courts to cater to the needs of the tenants of the school’s 200-bed dormitory and the campus’ surrounding community. It will also shield the academic buildings and campus courtyards from direct sunlight.

Connected to the main building are the academic buildings, which will have 90 classrooms and house a maximum of 1,500 students. The design of the classrooms will consider solar and wind orientations, and harness natural light and prevailing wind. This will help to reinforce ecological awareness among the students.

The campus will have vertical gardens to provide additional cooling mechanisms for the buildings. These have been designed to offset at least 20 percent of the campus’ carbon footprint. The architects are also hoping to achieve 100 percent solar gains from solar panels to be installed on the roofs.

Other notable features include 14 technical laboratories, a 1,000-seater auditorium, a library, a sports centre with a 50-metre swimming pool and indoor basketball courts. There will also be three campus gardens: a botanical garden for academic purposes, a main garden that will surround the auditorium and chapel and the great lawn, a landscaped avenue linking all four buildings of the campus.

To help mitigate flooding on campus, the architects have designed a rainwater catchment system to catch and reuse rainwater for non-potable purposes.

In addition, the policies and guidelines promoted by Ecoteneo, Ateneo de Davao University’s advocacy group for environmental protection and conservation, will be strictly implemented. These mandate waste segregation and campus greening, and prohibit the use of plastics in the school.

“It is planned to be a model campus for social and environmental responsibility,” said lead architect John Immanuel R Palma.