The United States Green Building Council has named Sing Yin Secondary School in Hong Kong the greenest school on Earth.

The low-income school teaches students the importance of sustainable living and highlights a variety of ways to do so.

A wide range of renewable energy sources are used to power the boys' school and educate the students. Leading by example, the building uses wind turbines and solar panels and has a green roof. It also features a bamboo garden, a self-contained coral aquarium and an organic farm.

The classrooms in which the students learn are also green facilities in which they learn to use energy responsibly.

The classrooms are equipped with motion sensors which turn off air conditioning and lights if no movement is detected. Fluorescent LED white light tubes are used to conserve energy, and auto-dimmers dim the lights nearest the window if sunlight is strong.

Sing Yin Secondary School

Sing Yin Secondary School

Double glazed windows help to minimise heat radiation and noise while solar photovoltaic panels outside the windows turn sunlight into energy and minimise heat radiation from entering the classrooms. A solar shade reduces the need for air conditioning in summer months and an automatic weather station sends real time data to the classrooms so they can adjust the air conditioning accordingly.

Sing Yin’s roof includes intricately placed solar tracking photovoltaic panels to enhance energy-capturing efficiency. Panels are fitted with water tubes which simultaneously heats up water for bathing while converting sunlight into energy.

The rooftop garden helps to remove carbon dioxide from the environment while lowering atmospheric temperatures. Vertical wind turbines on top of the building convert wind energy to electrical energy.

The ground floor exhibits a plethora of sustainable energy devices. LED lights are powered by solar and wind energy, the library windows were designed with sandwiched PV panels, the bamboo garden helps to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, and the office windows have a thermal insulating coating.

Wong Kam sing

The Secretary for the Environment, Wong Kam-sing, visited Sing Yin Secondary School in Kwun Tong. Photo shows Wong (right) viewing the solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of the campus.

LED lights are used in the school’s hallways, which are equipped with solar powered water sprinklers to be used in the event of a fire.

The school’s lift is designed to regenerate electrical energy by recovering gravitational potential energy as electrical energy when the lift goes down.

Sustainability is a large part of the curriculum at Sing Yin, with 100 students selected each year to take on a role as environmental monitors and ambassadors. The school is also active in encouraging the community to become more energy efficient through various campaigns.

Being surrounded by an extraordinary green design and taught the principles of living sustainably will no doubt breed a future of energy-responsible students eager to put their education to good use.

The Global Coalition for Green Schools awarded the school $5,000 to put toward an ongoing or new sustainability project.

  • I’m only on my first sip of coffee, so I’m sure my mood could be better, but count me among those that are getting tired of superlatives like “world’s greenest school” applied to buildings like this. I ‘d like to see it in competition with a mud brick and thatched roof school in Africa or Latin America.

  • Tracy
    I quite agree even after two full cups of coffee . I suppose the one positive thing about these silly claims is that they do provide incentive to many to improve what they do especially if they have to justify what seems like an outrageous expense for all that technological support

  • passive solution should have been considered first for a learning environment based on nature and a condusive environment for the students to appreciate their natural suroundings before looking at all those additional cost technical gadgets

  • Kamaria You are quite right. There is no mention of any primary passive strategies being employed before al the high tech was introduced. This in itself is a poor lesson but perhaps we can hope the building was oriented properly etc. If there were some passive strategies it is discouraging to note that they were not mentioned since it suggests that the only thing of interest is technology itself. Many years ago we did a much smaller school which was designed to do just that (thrive totally on passive approaches with minimal active boost) and to teach those notions by its very design . It was also in a natural setting There is not much about it on the web because of its ag

  • Kamaria and Doug,
    I completely agree! First and foremost what a design team should address is using passive and “free” site based strategies to reduce demand naturally. “Passive House” strategies and possible certification should be considered as well in my opinion, especially for larger structures such as this school as the costs to achieve this very high level of efficiency is greatly reduced by scale. After such considerations and methods are employed the need folr renewable energy systems and “gadgets” is great;y reduced, which obviously reduces environmental impacts from manufacturing of such products and systems.

  • John and Kamaria..Are you familiar with the Living Building Challenge? This is an emerging rating system for buildings that behave in the manner we are discussing. Their certification is far more rigid than LEED etc. and requires a full years performance data before certificates are given.
    One of its interesting mandatory criteria is that the building has to be beautiful!

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  • Well at least something’s being done to make China more sustainable. While it is obviously debatable whether this could be considered the “world’s greenest school”, I believe it’s a decent step towards sparking a trend of sustainable architecture in a city not typically renowned for its green practices, and a good way to educate the public about sustainability. It signifies a cultural change towards perception of pollution by teaching the next generation to adopt sustainable practices.

  • Gayle, Yes I agree! It is awesome to see these efforts being made anywhere in the world and espescially in China! If they are awarded the “greenest school in the world” title by the USGBC, that will foster a sense of deep pride and encourage the students and citizens of greater China to do the same, and even try to be “greener”!

    Great job on this project overall, and having gizmos and and gadgets is far “sexier” than passive systems, people like that and it is great!… we need ALL of these strategies to overcome our societal ghg problems.

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