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Education for Sustainability


Campus, Science Lab, & Rooftop Garden Models of Sustainability

At Presidio Hill School, we are active participants in energy conservation, composting, recycling, and modeling how to harness alternative energy. Our campus features sustainable elements that help restore, maintain, and regenerate our site, reminding visitors that even our simple day-to-day tasks impact the environment. As children, teachers, and parents visit our campus, it is our goal to teach them practical lessons on how to live more responsibly on our planet.

Our small school and even smaller class sizes, allow us to involve students in the design, instillation, and monitoring of our school's green initiatives. Our science curriculum is designed to engage students to participate in the act of resource preservation as we know that increasing students environmental knowledge while also employing instructional practices that focus on interdisciplinary and place-based problem solving influence behavior change towards sustainability.

Following the three pillars identified by the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design for green schools: We strive to increase our awareness and practice in these key areas.


  • Improve occupants’ health and performance

  • Reduce environmental impacts and costs  

  • Increase sustainability literacy

Native Landscaping: With the help of students taking the sustainable business elective courses, our school grounds have been replanted with Californian native plants. Shade tolerant woodland plants help control erosion, limit storm-water run-off, produce oxygen, and serve as an urban habitat for native organisms. Our students' efforts have earned our campus a National Wildlife Habitat Certification (2017). 

Smart Irrigation: An automated drip watering system has been installed throughout our campus. Mobile control, automated forecast watering, and weekly usage updates allow our staff and students to monitor our water usage.

Solar Energy: Rooftop solar panels (under construction) supply our science room with sun-generated electricity offsetting some the lab's energy demands by powering our hydroponic garden lighting system, science microscopes, and student IPads and chromebooks. Students can “plug-in” and experience the variations of the sun’s energy output.

Middle school students & our Director of Technology, installing solar panels.

Low-Flow Water Faucets: Have been installed in the science lab sinks saving a gallon of water flow per minute.

LED Lighting: LED lighting brightens the science lab offering students a cleaner, healthier, more productive lighting environment, and demonstrates energy-efficient lighting systems.

Motion Sensor Switches: Overhead motion detectors save energy by automatically turning off the lights when occupants leave the room.

Smart Outlets:  Smart outlets located around the science lab allow students to learn about "vampire" electricity and the power saving habit of turning off electronics when not in use.

Soaps, Cleaners & Tissue: Biodegradable soaps, cleaners, and non-bleached tissues are used in the science lab helping to limit the number of chemicals we breathe and excess chemicals from entering San Francisco’s water systems. 

Indoor Air Quality Monitoring: As part of our middle school LEED Architecture Challenge, students learn about volatile organic compounds (VOC's).  These toxic chemicals are often released through cleaning supplies, paints, and plastics. Monitors in the science lab allows students to see the air quality fluctuations at our school.

Rainwater Harvesting: A collection system on our rooftop garden allows students to irrigate our vegetable gardens and native plants with captured rainwater. 


Hydroponic Gardens: Alternative gardening and farming models include our mini hydroponic systems. 6th grade students become “botanists” as they learn the maintenance and water-saving techniques of “water only” farming. The garden water is sourced from our rain barrels.

Rooftop Worm Farm: Food scraps from student lunches, staff coffee grounds, and veggie crops feed our worms and other compost organisms.



Transportation: Our community is aware transportation is a main cause of carbon pollution. Our most recent pledge is to limit the number of cars that are on the road by initiating a number of carbon reduction alternatives for our commuters. Including, carpooling contests, bike to school days, a PHS bus that transports students to and from school, as well as identifying park & walk-together locations in the neighborhood.

Demonstration garden: Washington Street Building

The middle school rooftop garden is an extension of the third-floor science lab on the north side of campus. The first planting was in the fall of 2002 and has grown into an integral part of the PHS experience. The demonstration garden purposely showcases sustainable growing methods that students and the community can easily learn from. In the last few years, student-designed projects include, a rain harvest system, reclaimed redwood raised beds, a worm farm, native plant nursery, and solar panels to help offset our science lab electricity demands. Our model strives to help preserve the planet's resources and foster global citizenship in our graduates.

Middle School Garden Curriculum Foundations

Native plants are critical for ecosystem function

Native plants are used by indigenous people for medicine and food (ethnobotany)

100% organic gardening can be achieved by best practice techniques 

Our garden models resource preservation & alternative energy harvesting

Our garden is where weather monitoring and the science of phenology happens