THE FIRST SUSTAINABLE PUBLIC SCHOOL OF LATIN AMERICA

During my journey along the coast of Uruguay, I visited the school of Jaureguiberry. Launched on March, 2016, it is the first susainable public school of Latin America. It was impulsed by a group of young specialists of eco-construction and biology, with the desire to put into practice the sustainability within a local community’s life. After many years of cooperation and compromises, a successful partnership between the Ministry of Education of Uruguay, NGOs, private corporations and other public bodies) enabled the construction of the first auto-sustainable public school of Latin America.

During 7 weeks, more than 200 volunteers from Uruguay and many other countries participated in the construction and learnt from the Earthship construction method, thus ensuring the possibility of replicating this experience in other parts of the world. The TAGMA NGO was the main catalyst of this huge collective work.

Earthship Biotecture is the company dedicated for 45 years to build self-sustaining housing. Its examples found in more than 15 different countries. They are designed to generate electricity, heating, running water and organic food. In addition, its construction uses various re-used materials such as tires, cans and bottles. However, it was not possible to build the school using eco-construction design in order to respect the criterias and requirements of the Ministry of Education. Thus, the building in itself is not ecological: e.g. it is composed of concrete, metalic platform for the roof…

Nevertheless, thanks to the Earthship model, the daily functionning of the school is sustainable: all rain water is colected for watering the garden and water for closets, the grey water is biologically treated by plants (a sequence of plots with filtering and treating plants), the roof if covered by solar panels which charge bateries and cover the energy supply, the back side of the school is entirely underground, covered by 2 meters of ground in addition to channels for air transportation, which enables a comfortable temperature inside of year around. Children can see how plants grow every morning, at the small garden outside, and inside on the plots facing the lighty corridor. A beautiful place where to learn!

This school of Jaureguiberry is already a model to follow. Many contacts have been undertaken and first experiences shared to give birth to many new projects of sustainable school in Uruguay and all around the continent. I wish them a big family, to promote and implement self-sustaining building which minimizes operating costs, and to foster meaningful learning including innovation and sustainability for the whole community. And a better future.

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