Middle schoolers look to PSU for green building expertise
Author: Laura Gleim, Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Posted: February 22, 2013

It’s not often that kids have the opportunity to apply what they’re learning to help renovate their school. But students from Metro Montessori Middle School visited the Portland State campus this week with the intention of doing just that—by learning how to make a recently purchased school building as energy-efficient as possible.

“What can we do to improve our building now?” asked Eleanor Kemp, an eighth grader at Metro Montessori. For the past month, Kemp and her classmates have been studying green buildings and EcoDistricts, communities committed to achieving neighborhood-scale sustainability goals. 

Students from Metro Montessori Middle School visited
PSU to learn about green buildings and energy.

The Portland State campus boasts eight LEED certified green buildings, and is located in the heart of one of Portland’s pilot EcoDistricts.

Fletcher Beaudoin and Kate Williams from the PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions took the students on a tour of PSU’s green energy features, from Electric Avenue to the new energy-efficient light fixtures in historic Lincoln Hall. After the tour, the students calculated how much carbon emissions different kinds of light bulbs produce, and discussed how emissions affect each bulb’s overall costs to consumers.

Students intend to use what they learned at PSU to advocate for energy-efficient retrofits in their school’s new building.

“They’re coming back with a skill that the facilities manager can use,” said Metro Montesori teacher and PSU alumna Marcia Thomas. 

Many of the same students from Metro Montessori visited PSU’s campus last year for a tour of sustainable transportation infrastructure. The students have since opened up their own bike repair shop modeled on PSU’s BikeHub and have talked with Mayor Charlie Hales about Portland’s transportation planning.

Classes interested in learning about sustainability on PSU’s campus can contact Fletcher Beaudoin at