Greener Grounds, Cooler School

May 01, 2023

Greener Grounds, Cooler School is a collaborative effort by San Rafael Elementary school parents, educators, and students to realize a greener, cooler, more climate-resilient campus in the face of more frequent extreme heat. The project is designed to add CA native trees and plants to an asphalt-heavy school campus to provide longer-term cooling benefits, expand learning opportunities related to life sciences and environmental studies, foster a sense of ecological awareness and responsibility among students, and create spaces of refuge and natural beauty.

Research shows that green spaces offer numerous mental, physical, academic, and social developmental benefits. Many SRE students live in urban environments, where access to fields, woodlands, and other green spaces is limited. For some students, school is the only place they are able to spend time outdoors during their day. But rising temperatures and dangerous heat limit student access to existing, asphalt- dominated outdoor spaces. During the recent heatwave in September 2022, school asphalt temperatures in direct sunlight were measured at an alarming 150 F degrees at 3:30pm in the afternoon, while adjacent shaded asphalt registered 114 F.

Creating more green spaces will also enhance the school’s curriculum by introducing students to topics such as biodiversity, native plants, urban heat islands, and climate resiliency. Students will have the opportunity to observe and participate in the care of green spaces and utilize the spaces for group activities to learn concepts not only in the area of science but across all disciplines.


Students attended


Staff attended


Additional Volunteers attended


Students will be impacted this year

Intended impact of project

Reduced environmental impact
Improved occupant health & performance
Increased environmental & sustainability literacy