On November 17, 2009, College Prep teamed with Ratcliffe Architects to hold our first "Eco-charrette." An eco-charrette is intended to be intense meeting, generally lasting at last half a day or more (ours ran from 4-8 PM) in which all participants brainstorm about how to improve ecological sustainability. The group generates goals and then develops strategies for accomplishing those goals. Eco-charrettes, also called sustainable design or environmental design charrettes, are becoming a common element in the design of "green" buildings, and the Ratcliffe team helped us to co-opt the term to focus our path towards reducing our ecological footprint.
By the way, the term "charrette" is derived from the French word for cart. At the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris in the 19th century, proctors would circulate with charrettes at the deadline hour, collecting the drawings of the student apprentices for delivery to the master artist for critique. Apprentices would jump onto the carts with their drawings, often still frantically making last-minute changes. Thus, the word conveys a sense of the intensive, concentrated effort.
At our eco-charrette, Kit Ratcliffe and Brian Feagans presented the assembled group of students, faculty, parents, and administrators, with the results of an extensive audit that the Ratcliffe firm did regarding College Prep's campus carbon footprint, waste production, and water usage. The results were startling, but gave us a great benchmark against which to measure our future progress.
November's event was only a first step, and there will be future eco-charrettes to help us focus our attention and energy. Let us know if you are interested in participating!