Goddard School students taught to conserve

BUFORD - Every Goddard School focuses on preparing its students for success in kindergarten.

The owner of a new location in Buford said she also wants to help her students become good environmental stewards.

"I think we all know the world is changing," said Marijke Strachan, who opened the Goddard School in Buford in November. "We are leaving a big footprint. I think it's important to set an example for the next generation."

When Strachan started building the preschool at 4000 S. Bogan Road more than a year ago, she included many eco-friendly features, such as a water reclamation and irrigation system. The system, which collects water on the roof and stores it in an underground tank, wasn't cheap - it cost about $50,000 - but Strachan said the long-term benefits will outweigh the initial expense.

"There's not an immediate payback, but it comes down to (this): Do you have water or not?" said Strachan, who also owns the Goddard School in Roswell.

Another green feature includes recycled flooring that is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. Strachan said she will save money because the floor does not have to be stripped and waxed.

Faucets with automatic sensors also help keep the school sanitary, as well as saving water, Strachan said.

The school features energy-efficient lighting that automatically dims when people leave or when the sun shines brightly into a room, extra insulation and a high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Strachan said she knows it's important to set an example, so the Sandy Springs resident drives a Toyota Prius to work.

She also wants her students to know their families don't have to purchase a new car or retrofit their homes to make a difference. She's encouraging students to participate Saturday in Earth Hour, an international event designed to raise awareness of the need to take action on climate change. Participating households and businesses turn off their lights and electrical appliances for one hour starting at 8:30 p.m.

"We want to teach the kids everyone can make a difference, even if it's in a small way," she said.