As an Episcopal school sharing in the belief that we are all called to be stewards of the natural world with which we have been blessed, Heathwood has long been committed to environmental sustainability and environmental education.
Our environmental work focuses on several areas:
- Garden design, creation and maintenance
- Nature trail/outdoor classroom learning site development
- Curriculum development
- Community sustainability
- Grant writing
- Professional development
Recent student projects include composting food waste from our Dining Commons, testing stream water quality for SC DHEC's Adopt-a Stream program, and the creation of a way station for Monarch butterflies.
- The Middle School restrooms, Upper School science labs and all of the Dining Commons are on either motion sensing fixtures or use automatic shut downs.
- Nearly 70% of our campus is on an energy management system that controls heating/cooling during off hours.
- We use T-8 flourescent bulbs all over campus, which use less energy.
- We have some halogen fixtures and are changing over exterior fixtures to LED
- We are installing low-flow fixtures as we renovate our bathrooms.
- The Dining Commons uses washable plates and cups.
- We partner with a local tree company to obtain free mulch that would otherwise go to a landfill.
- We also partner with local landscapers, who give us their used nursery containers for our greenhouse, keeping them out of landfills and preventing us from having to ship containers in from out of the region.
- We frequently add new gardens, decreasing the amount of space that must be maintained by lawn equipment.
- Art classes reduce landscaping debris by using materials for art projects.
- All divisions participate in recycling. Items recycled on site include paper, plastic, aluminum, cardboard, food waste, computers, ink cartridges, telephone books, textbooks, cell phones/I-pads, and plant debris.
- Recycling teams attend home football games to assist in cleanup as well as collection of plastic logo cups that are later used for plants.
- The school has several composting areas, including a state-of-the-art Earth Tub.
- We use recycled wooden pallets and constructed tables for our plant sale.
- Similar wooden pallets form a 125’ boardwalk through one of our rain gardens.
- At the end of each school year, we pass along gently used book bags and school supplies to schools in need.
- Junk to art projects—students across various grades create various themed peices of art out of recyclable materials.
- Pallets—pallets are used on campus for various free material including compost bins and the 120’ boardwalk in the rain garden.
- Nursery Containers—we partner with local landscapers and nurseries to reuse nursery containers for our greenhouse program, thereby reducing costs.
- Most of our cleaning and paper products are green products. We have switched to electric hand dryers where it makes sense.
- Plant sales—kids grow and sell over 2000 plants annually using our greenhouse for our spring and fall plant sales.
- Dried herbs—kids cut herbs and use dehydrators to dry, package, and sell at our plant sales.
- Students plant native trees and have created a native tree alley in undeveloped areas of campus to absorb pollutants.
- Students grow plants in the greenhouse that improve indoor air quality.
- Younger students promote our anti-idle policy during car pool pickup.
- We are a smoke free campus.
- Three rain gardens on campus enable plants to filter out pollutants before continuing into the watershed.
- We have a riparian zone around our pond in which water from a nearby parking lot flows. This zone is a ‘best management practice’.
- All garden planting is done in the fall, allowing plants to be established before the next summer season.
- No irrigation is used in any of our educational theme gardens.
- Maintenance staff places fall leaf litter around mature trees as a moisture/weed/compost layer, instead of raking away.
- Low-flow toilets are used in the Upper School.
- Students and faculty participate in four Adopt-A-Highway/Adopt-A-Watershed sites.
- Announcements are made at athletic events about recycling and trash bin locations.
- Trash bins and recycling bins are strategically placed throughout campus, maximizing the opportunity to properly dispose of waste.
Each year students help design, construct, and maintain a new theme garden as part of their outdoor curriculum. Current gardens include:
Early Childhood Learning Center Children’s Garden – An ever-changing and developing garden that contains plants for structured free play and sensory development, discovery, & exploration.
Middle School Native Garden – Created with the Class of 2015 as 5th graders, this garden focuses on native plants of the southeast and utilized negative space within parking lot islands.
Campus Butterfly/Hummingbird Pocket Gardens – Plants in these areas are ideal for nectar and food source for various butterflies and hummingbirds.
Native Tree Alley – Created by the Class of 2016 as 5th graders, this garden contains approximately 30 Shumard Oaks that will one day provide a grand, noble gateway to the back half of campus. Between the oaks are approximately 30 Halesia – a somewhat uncommon shrub in our area.
Native American Medicine Wheel Garden – Initiated by the Class of 2017 as 5th graders, this garden is a functional garden capturing the culture of South Carolina and Southeastern Native Americans. All plants flower or set fruit according to the plot in which they are planted representing the four seasons. All plants are native and had value for indigenous people for food, dyes, medicines, soaps, fiber, and thatch material.
Riparian Garden – Constructed by the Class of 2018 as 5th graders, this area transformed a large section of land next to our pond into a viable habitat for organisms that live in a transitional zone from xeric to mesic. The area replicates plants traditionally found in a bottom-land forest, like Congaree National Park, and serves as a best management practice by absorbing pollution from runoff water sourced from a nearby parking lot as it flows into the pond.
Xeric Garden – Constructed also by the Class of 2018 as 5th graders, this area transformed a parking lot island surrounded by asphault into a thriving example of proper plant design – all plants survive in less than ideal condition with excessive thermal uplift from the impermeable surface surrounding it.
Carolina Bay Ecosystem – Created by the Class of 2019 as 5th graders, this area replicates a disappearing ecosystem in South Carolina – the Carolina Bays of the Longleaf Pine Forest. A storm water pond was used as the bay enhancing these bland and seemingly useless areas into a man-made wetland that is cleaning runoff water before heading to the Congaree River.
Edible Forest Garden – Created by the Class of 2020 as 5th graders, this garden has more than 100 fruit and berry trees and shrubs. Species include plants common around the world but uncommon to most students, along with traditional species: apple, nectarine, peach, plum, Asian pear, Asian persimmon, fig, pomegranate, medlar, jujube, mulberry, mayhaw, pineapple guava, blueberries, grapes, and fuzzy raspberry.
Geography Garden – Created also by the Class of 2020 as 5th graders and still developing, this garden contains plants representing three biomes of the world: tropical rain forest, grassland, and desert.
Art Garden – Created by the Class of 2021 as 5th graders and still developing, this garden serves three purposes: to highlight plants with artistic shape, form, color, and texture while allowing for a place to collect material for projects as well as a space for display.
Campus Nature Trails – More than two miles of nature trails have been developed connecting to the existing cross-country trail system. All trails have outdoor classroom sites, bluebird boxes, a chimney swift tower, and tree identification signage. Trails also have native plants purposely added for educational lessons in areas where invasive species have been removed. Trails are constantly being improved.
In order to improve our soil conditions, we strive to minimize the impact on our soil in the following ways: rerouting sidewalks, decreasing herbicide usage, instilling a no vehicle policy on grassy areas, decreasing leaf debris removal, raising lawn mower blades, and adding compost where necessary.
All vegetable gardens are 100% organic, making Heathwood Hall the first school in the state to have a Certified South Carolina Grown school garden.