The Lawrenceville School's Office of Environmental Sustainability protects and enhances our land, water, air, and the communities near and far that depend on these essential resources. Our curriculum, operations, and programming focus on land and water conservation, energy efficiency, and reduced waste flows. Together these efforts promote ecological literacy and citizenship at the local, national, and global level.
The School's grounds provide opportunities for students and local community members that draw on the legacy of noted alum and ecologist Aldo Leopold (class of 1905) and celebrated landscape architect and campus designer Frederick Law Olmsted. These opportunities add a new dimension to students' learning by developing their appreciation of the natural world and connecting their efforts to a broader community.
Students engage with sustainability in many ways, including coursework, the sustainability council, summer programs, independent studies, and internships.
Land Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture
The Lawrenceville School is surrounded by hundreds of acres of School-owned forests, wetlands, and farmland that offer boundless educational and ecological potential. The School employs ecological principles to forest stewardship, agricultural practices, habitat protection, and conservation.
The Office of Environmental Sustainability is now implementing a Land Stewardship Plan developed for the school by the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS). Part of this plan involves a summer Restoration Ecology internship with FoHVOS staff.
Land conservation initiatives also include sustainable farming at the School's Big Red Farm. The Farm produces a variety of organic crops and meat for our dining halls, School Camp, and area food pantries. Students work on the farm for athletics credit during fall and spring term and for summer internships.
Watershed Institute Partnership
The Lawrenceville School is pleased to announce it has been certified as a River-Friendly School by the Watershed Institute in Hopewell, NJ. Our partnership involves a long-term study of the Shipetaukin Creek (the stream that runs through campus) and practices aimed at reducing runoff into campus waterways. Measures to improve water quality in the Shipetauken Creek will serve the millions of people in downstream towns and cities that need clean drinking water. Students frequently study water quality on campus in their science courses and in summer offerings like the Leopold Scholars in Ecology and Ethics.
Green Building and Carbon Emissions
In an effort to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, Lawrenceville addresses energy efficiency through green building techniques for current and recent construction projects. The school has five LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings: the Fathers Building, the math wing of the Kirby Math and Science Center, Carter House, the Al-Rashid Health and Wellness Center, and the Gruss Center for Art and Design.
Plans are in place for a sixth LEED building with the Tsai Field House to be completed in 2024. The new building and surrounding parking area will include green features like geoexchange heating and cooling, waste heat recapture, permeable pavement, rain gardens, and bioswales.
The campus heating system recaputres up to 90% of the steam used to heat buildings to in energy and water use. The Office of Environmental Sustainability also researches carbon reduction strategies, renewable energy credits, and carbon offsets.
Recycling, Compost, and Waste Programs
Led by our Facilities Department, students, faculty, and staff work in partnership with our recycling facility, All County Recycling of Trenton, and hauler, Waste Management, to reduce the amount of material that ends up in landfills. Students also lead efforts to compost food waste from plate scrapings in the dining halls to avoid sending those materials to the landfill and, instead, have them used to add nutrients to the soil at a local farm. Other initiatives are a reduction of waste during student moving times and adopting reusable plates and reusable water bottles as the norm everywhere on campus.
The Lawrenceville School solar array consists of a 30-acre, 6.1 megawatt solar facility from a total of 24,934 solar panels. The array offsets over 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of taking 850 cars off the road each year. Power from the panels is sold as Renewable Energy Credits on the open market. As an energy provider, the panels help our local utility fulfill its state-mandated renewable energy targets.
News and Reflections
Students in Lawrenceville’s 2023 Capstone course will explore an issue that literally affects every living thing on Earth: climate change. Steve Laubach, Lawrenceville’s director of sustainability, said the course will examine:
Lawrenceville’s food service provider, Sustainable Fair, received a Certificate of Support for its purchases of locally grown food for the School’s dining halls.
By Georges Casassovici '25
My enthusiasm for spelunking was almost instantaneous. I stumbled upon a video of a man entering a cave in Santa Cruz, Calif. called “Hell Hole” in 2020. Little did I know, only three months later, after a lot of convincing and preparation, I was able to explore it with my friends. Hell Hole, discovered almost 100 years ago, is far from a beginner-level cave.
The Lawrenceville School was honored in the 13th annual Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS) Challenge, Olmsted Landscapes, announced at last month’s American Society of Landscape Architects Conference on Landscape Architecture.