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Green Initiatives

Our Green School is a place where buildings and surroundings become teaching tools, and where integrated teaching experiences dynamically connect the classroom to the real world.

Integral to Ruffing’s vision is our commitment to environmental sustainability and to providing a healthy and safe school. Ruffing is the first school in northeast Ohio, and the first building in Cleveland Heights, to achieve LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the US Green Building Council and Green Building Certification Institute. This certification verifies that Ruffing meets the highest green building performance quality and integrity standards, employing the most efficient design and state-of-the art building techniques.

Ruffing earned this certification for its sustainable site selection, water efficiency, energy performance, use of reused and recycled materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design. Ruffing was also recognized for its innovative green curriculum, school-wide green initiatives and exemplary use of recycled materials. For these sustainability efforts, Ruffing received a 2010 Emerald Award from Crain’s Cleveland Business, a 2010 Community Improvement Award from the City of Cleveland Heights, and a 2009 Northeast Ohio Environmental Award by the Biodiversity Alliance, for “innovative curriculum that permeates the whole school.” In 2013, Ruffing received a Community Improvement Awards for Sustainability in recognition of our Stormwater Learning Lab project. Our school is also a frequent stop on the Northeast Ohio Green Energy Tour.

Green Building Features

Our building is loaded with green features, including: a geothermal system that provides efficient heating and cooling, photovoltaic (solar) panels installed on all southern exposure roof areas that harness 53 kW, enough power to offset up to 20% of our electrical consumption, a living roof for added insulation and energy conservation, high efficiency lighting, energy efficient windows, fabric ductwork, a greenhouse, water-efficient landscaping, rainwater barrels collect rainwater for re-use in gardens, sun tubes that allow for ample natural lighting, low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, carpet tiles, and glues used exclusively, natural flooring materials, energy efficient appliances, waterless urinals, low-flow toilets, and controlled hand towel dispensers in our bathrooms, to name a few.

Green Curriculum

Beginning with our Toddler Community and continuing through the Middle School, Ruffing teaches children about conservation, sustainability and environmental stewardship. Ruffing has developed a Green Curriculum, complete with lesson plans and copyrighted Montessori-style materials, using the building’s green features as a working lab. At every age level, students are introduced to increasingly more complex ideas centered on individual responsibility, conservation efforts and how to harness energy resources found naturally.

Stormwater Learning Lab (SWLL)

Ruffing created a Sustainable Stormwater Management Learning Lab on its campus in 2013. This project improves the community, the environment AND teaches children and the public about sustainable stormwater management practices.

What is the Sustainable Stormwater Management Learning Lab?

In addition to creating beautiful exterior landscaped enhancements, the SWLL provides a number of sustainable practices such as:
• Bioretention cells: Rain gardens designed to retain and clean rain water before it enters the storm sewer system.
• Observation and sampling wells: Will allow children to monitor volumes and test water quality in bioretention cells.
• Permeable pavement: Allows rain water to drain through the pavement into a retention basin, cleaning the rain water and delaying its entry into the storm sewer system.
• Daylighting of downspout: You can see the water travel off the roof, through the clear downspout, along the trench drain and into the bioretention cells.
• Cistern and hand pump: Captures rain water runoff from the school roof and allows for beneficial re-use in classroom gardens.

The Ohio EPA provided partial funding for the project and the City of Cleveland Heights was an important partner in this endeavor. For additional information click here.

Green Cleaning Policy

Ruffing uses safe, non-toxic cleaning products for the school’s daily cleaning service. From hydrogen peroxide-based all-purpose cleaners to laundry detergents, we have eliminated the use of harmful chemicals known to pose health risks to individuals, especially young children with asthma and allergies. The products we use will not harm the environment and most are Green Seal approved. Our custodial staff has been trained in the use of these green products, and we make a genuine effort to keep harmful chemicals out of our school and classrooms.

Green Procurement Policy

Whenever possible, Ruffing purchases products made from recycled post-consumer materials, such as copy paper, hand towels, toner and printer cartridges, and products that are not harmful to humans, animals or the environment. Ruffing’s stationery components and publications are printed on recycled paper that is both FSC-certified and Rainforest Alliance Certified.

No Waste Lunches

Ruffing encourages healthy eating habits for life and encourages students to do their part in preserving the planet by recycling, composting, and packing “no waste” lunches. Lunches are to packed using a reusable lunch box, reusable food containers, cloth napkins, reusable flatware, and above all, good nutritious choices. Our students have calculated that we eliminate more than 13,000 pounds of garbage every school year through our no-waste lunch policy.

Recycling & Composting

Recycling bins are in every classroom with larger recycling centers located in the common spaces of our Lower School, Upper Elementary and Middle School to collect paper, plastic, glass, newspapers and cardboard. Our students regularly compost their lunch waste, using such compost materials to nurture each classroom’s garden.

Integrated Pest Management Program

Similar to our indoor cleaning policy, Ruffing avoids using pesticides and herbicides, as they are known to be harmful to humans, animals and the environment.

The Ruffing community continuously strives to become more responsible inhabitants of the earth and to provide a safer school environment for our students and faculty.