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Center for Sustainability

The Basics | Curricular Connections | Co-Curricular Programs | HB Community Garden | Seminar & Speaker Series | Lorax | Sustainability Planning At HB | Contact Us | Explore

Check out this great video about the importance of thoughtful Urban Planning
created by Gracie Mowery '15

This short video, made by Gracie Mowery '15, explores the potential of urban planning and design to transform cities into vibrant, sustainable, livable landscapes. This work combines Gracie's summer experience studying urban planning, design and sustainability at Cornell University and her participation in HB's Climate and Action class in the 2014-2015 school year. 

Sustainability is about being “green,” but it is also so much more than this. At its heart, it is about designing a world that allows life to flourish – our individual lives, our collective lives in community, and the life of ecological systems all around us. The Center for Sustainability engages the HB community with thinking, learning, and action to help build a vibrant, healthy future. It does this by partnering with teachers in all divisions to introduce new skills and perspectives into the core curriculum, building co-curricular programs, and offering elective classes. The Center also works with the school’s administration and facilities department to find ways to reduce the environmental impacts of our facilities and operations.

The Center's Vision: HB is a school that has a net positive impact on the natural world, and values through words and actions both the wellbeing of humans and other species and the needs of all people to have voice, power, and economic security.  The principles and practices of sustainability are woven into the fabric of HB’s curriculum, culture, and community.

The Basics

Click on the link above to learn what the center does and how to join.

Curricular Connections

The Upper School Climate and Action elective class is working on developing a Climate Action Plan for the school.  Students in the class are part of the school's Climate Action Task Force, which also includes our Facilities Director, Chief Financial Officer, and two faculty representatives.  The Task Force reports to the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Beyond the electives offered through the Center, HB's curriculum addresses sustainability themes in many ways and places. The Center for Sustainability supports this by partnering with core curriculum faculty in all divisions to run classroom activities and discussions, in addition to providing support for curriculum development, and assisting students interested in in-depth study of sustainability with course selection and independent project work.  Some of the exciting collaborations the Center is advancing this year are:

  • Engaging Upper School students in the International Relations, Leadership Seminar, Communty-Based Learning, Environmental Science, AP French and Climate and Action classes in a Model-UN style climate change negotiation simulation in conjunction with the COP21 Paris climate talks in December.
  • Weaving the theme of water into art classes across the divisions and in the Primary School's first Storyline of the year to celebrate Sustainable Cleveland 2019's Year of Clean water in 2015.
  • On-going study of the impacts of different soil amendments in our vegetable garden on plant health and yields.  Environmental Science students initiated the study last spring and the biology classes are completing the data collection and analysis this fall.
  • Expansion of 'farm-to-table' curriculum in our Early Childhood program and of our composting program in the Primary School in partnership with the 4th Grade science classes and the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District.

Co-Curricular Programs

Each year the Center for Sustainability develops programs that align with Sustainable Cleveland 2019's celebration years.  2015 is the Year of Clean Water and 2016 is the Year of Sustainable Mobility.  Look for special events and activities that highlight these themes throughout the school year.  Past celebration year themes have included the Year of Local Food and the Year of Advanced and Renewable Energy.

In past years Hathaway Brown has participated in the Green Cup Challenge, and national school competition to reduce electricity use on campus.  Student leaders, in partnership with the Center for Sustainability, monitored electricity use for four weeks from mid-January to mid-February and worked to educate the community about the things we can do to reduce our electricity use.  Green stars adorned the doors of classrooms left with the lights out and electronics unplugged when not in use.  Environmental Science students learned how to read the school's electricity meters and tracked our daily usage.  This year, rather than competing with the other independent schools in our region, we joined forces and collaborated, sharing ideas among the schools and working to collectively lower our use as much as possible.


HB Community Garden

HB's community garden has now been through four growing seasons, and our use of the garden is growing along with the vegetables.  Last summer we initiated a research project to examine the impacts of two different soil amendments, biochar and mycorrhizal fungi, on plant health and crop yields.  Environmental Science students developed hypotheses about the impacts based on a literature review on each amendment.  They conducted soil tests and collected soil samples for lab analysis prior to application of the amendments.  Over the summer, HB family volunteers tended the garden and collected data on plant health and yields.  This fall the biology classes are continuing the data collection and will complete the data analysis, drawing conclusions about the impacts of each amendment on the crops we grew.

Early childhood classrooms make regular visits to the garden in the fall, taking fresh snacks back to their classrooms with the. Middle School academies learn about local food economies and healthy eating during garden visits.

A big thanks goes out to all the HB families who helped tend the garden over the summer. In return for their help, they took home any harvest-ready produce during their week of service. Stay tuned for garden care volunteer sign-ups for this coming summer. Summer volunteers will receive a reminder email with instructions a few days before their week of service.

Seminar and Speaker Series

As part of the Institute for 21st Century Education's speaker series, the Center for Sustainability hosts several lunchtime seminars and speakers series throughout the year. These speakers all bring solutions to the table and help people understand the connections between economics, the environment, social equity and human wellness.


The Lorax is HB's environmental club for Upper School students. The club encourages students and faculty to consider the environmental impacts of their daily decisions.

Sustainability Planning at HB

The Center for Sustainability is engaging in long-range planning for the school's facilities and operations and the school-wide curriculum. As the school develops a new campus master plan for the coming years, the Center for Sustainability has participated in this process to bring attention to energy and resource use issues.  The annual greenhouse gas inventory conducted by the Climate and Action class and the Center for Sustainability supports this work.

In addition, the Center is conducting a curriculum audit across all divisions and departments to assess where and when we include education for sustainability in the our curriculum. This will launch a broader conversation about what this would look like in its best form here at HB and how we will get there from here to there.

Contact Us

Torrey McMillan '90
Director, Center for Sustainability

Hathaway Brown School
19600 N. Park Blvd.
Shaker Heights, OH 44122
216.320.8796 ext. 7227


See what else the Center for Sustainability has to offer in our HB Magazine.

Shaker Heights, Ohio Girls K-12 Coed Early Childhood

19600 North Park Boulevard Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122 P: 216.932.4214
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