It seems everyone is talking about ‘sustainability’ these days, but what does it mean? Is it just the newest version of the decades-old environmental ‘conservation’ concept or being ‘green’? Is it simply another way to talk about corporate social responsibility (‘CSR’) or balanced budgets?
At Traidhos we take a holistic approach to sustainability, going beyond natural resource and economic efficiency. Inspired by the Sustainability Compass*, we consider these interconnected domains:
Traidhos seeks to keep our campus, our thinking and our behaviour sustainable, thereby ensuring social responsibility to
our students and their parents
the communities of which we are part
the wider environment.
Taking a whole school approach to sustainability, Traidhos looks for strategic places to integrate and practice sustainable development in these five specific working areas of school life:
Sustainability initiatives at Traidhos are summarized on the next tab according to these five ‘Portals’ into school life. Most initiatives touch on more than one of the four Compass domains of sustainability.
*The AtKisson Sustainability Compass is one of a series of tools designed to accelerate sustainability. The tool promotes sustainability by identifying where change in a system will have the greatest impact, based upon instances of multi-linkages between issues concerning Nature, Economy, Society and Well-being. Learn more about the Sustainability Compass and the Compass Schools program.
With our whole school approach to sustainability, we are accessing sustainable development throughout these five key areas of school life. This page highlights just a few of the many ongoing and most recent initiatives. As noted on the ‘Introduction’ tab, we define sustainability in a holistic way that encompasses four interconnected domains: Nature, Economy, collective Society and individual Wellbeing.
|Governance and Management||Operations and Support|
|Support from Traidhos leadership||Departmental workshops to review and set goals|
|Becoming a Compass School AY09-10||Purchasing policies|
|Sustainability Self-Assessment AY10-11||Turning waste into useful products|
|Strategic Plan AY12-13||Reducing transportation footprint|
|School appoints Sustainability Coordinator AY12-13|
|Teaching and Learning||Networks and Partnerships|
|Compass as a tool in the classroom and curriculum||Local village|
|Grade 5 Sustainability Focus||Hand to Paw animal outreach|
|VSP using Sustainability Compass||Three Generation Farm joins WWOOF|
|Barge using Sustainability Compass||VSP becomes solar water bottle advocates|
|Parent School Community for charitable causes|
|Buildings and Grounds|
|Architecture and landscaping|
|Nature surveys and catalogues|
|Air purifiers and air monitoring|
|Nontoxic pest control|
|Worms & EM & leaf tea fertilizer|
Traidhos, from its conception, has been committed to making ‘global and green’ core values, expressed through a commitment to operating in a sustainable and socially responsible way. Founder and CEO ML Tri reiterated this vision in his 2008 graduation speech with ‘green and global’ as a key message: He urged the Traidhos Community to be global in all its future thoughts and actions, commenting that this was the only way to bring peace and cooperation to the world. Read the full transcript
The Board of Governors and Management Board support sustainability by approving the strategic plan ‘Future Prem’ which plans for sustainable school development.
PTIS’s Vision and Mission Statements expressly state sustainability as a goal.
During the 2009-2010 school year, Traidhos hosted the first ‘Becoming a Compass School’ workshop, which introduced a series of tools for accelerating sustainability in the education sector. The tools were trialed and adopted by several Prem teachers and administrators, and Traidhos conducted in-house training for teachers and support staff. Since then we have hosted two more general workshops. Lynda Rolph has been an integral part of advancing the Compass Schools program, working within Traidhos management, school, academies and programs (including the Barge and VSP), and helping present workshops to other schools and educators.
As part of being a ‘Compass School’ Traidhos completed a ‘Compass Schools Sustainability Self-Assessment.’ Over the 2010-2011 school year, the campus sustainability committee completed the assessment with input from representatives of the school and campus support departments. After several months of work, results were reviewed and a few themes were identified, which informed a short list of priority goals. From this broad foundation, new goals are developed for action each year.
Prem’s five year strategic plan called FuturePrem is organized in part according to the four Compass domains of sustainability: Nature, Economy, Society and Well-being. For each major aim, goals are expressed in terms of all four interrelated aspects of life, ensuring a holistic view of the future. An overview of FuturePrem is presented on the PTIS website and the full plan is available to community members who register for the FuturePrem wiki.
In the 2012-2013 school year, Prem added a new position to ensure ongoing attention to and integration of sustainability within the school and curriculum.
Sustainability and holistic thinking is woven throughout the curriculum; during AY12-13 teachers are documenting this more formally as part of the curriculum mapping process. The Sustainability Compass is used in many contexts and grade levels to facilitate sustainability and holistic thinking, support global citizenship and local wisdom. Here are a few examples:
The PYP Exhibition (primary school capstone project) is themed around sustainability. When students choose their topics, they use the Sustainability Compass to broaden their inquiry and research into natural resource, economic, social and well-being perspectives. In AY12-13 plans were developed for a Grade 5 ‘sustainability ambassadors’ program that would incorporate more outdoor hands-on learning projects, and encourage Grade 5 students to share their learning with other students. While some of those plans have not yet been realized, the Grade 5 students continue as sustainability ambassadors whenever possible.
Far away from the creature comforts of home, Qatar Academy Grade 10 students stayed in a Karen hill tribe village and discussed the impacts of tourism and globalization with the village members.
Learning that the village just got electricity a year ago was a shock to the students and they all wondered what changes it will bring in the coming years.
After a week of studying development issues in Northern Thailand, the students with guidance from the Visiting Schools Program staff used the Compass Model to look at the main assets and concerns in the village.
They then discussed how those assets and concerns are often interconnected upon all four compass points, allowing them to create a sustainable development strategy for the village that incorporated wellbeing, society, nature, and economy.
Presenting their ideas, the students found that by using the compass model they were able to look at the overwhelming issue of globalization in bite-sized pieces.
The Traidhos Barge Program introduces the Sustainability Compass to students carrying out community investigations and river observations.
ML Tri used his professional skills as an architect to design Traidhos’ buildings and grounds to maximize energy efficiency and conservation, make use of existing spaces for outdoor learning environments, protect and encourage biodiversity and natural beauty, and promote community among residents. Campus buildings are climate conscious, designed to be energy efficient and promote natural air-flow. Residential showers are heated by solar water heaters. Landscaping enhances the visual appeal of surroundings, creates an inviting and peaceful atmosphere and incorporates many shade trees to provide relief from the sun. The campus includes a productive farm that hosts many educational activities. A constructed wetland treats gray water from some residences.
The 100-acre campus hosts an abundance of wildlife and diverse vegetation, with ponds and reeds, flowing rivers, native and ornamental tree species, farmland, neighbouring rice paddies and cultivated gardens and fields. As seasons change, the biodiversity is visible to students and visitors through flowering plants, migratory birds nesting, and different butterflies, snakes and beetles. For more information, including a catalog of flora on Prem campus, photographs and descriptions of some of the creatures which make Traidhos their home, and information on bird watching in Thailand, click here.
While Traidhos enjoys fresh clean air throughout most of the year, air quality is a concern throughout Chiang Mai province during February, March and April due to local burning practices. Over the last several years, robust air purifiers have been placed into classrooms beginning with the youngest, and now funding is in place for all grade levels. (??) Members of Prem staff, students and parents are involved in continuous air quality monitoring and political action, with the hope that ongoing awareness and education will influence regional practices.
Traidhos has switched to locally sourced, plant-based insect control for residences and school grounds, and the Golf Academy has begun making its own fertilizer and insecticide from plants native to Thailand.
‘Traidhos Three-Generation Golf Academy looks to local wisdom and says goodbye to artificial chemical pest control’
For several years the golf academy team has been rethinking its use of chemical pesticides taking a back-to-basics approach. They have looked at and worked with an assortment of alternative methods to control bug and worm infestation as well as to find an effective fertiliser that is beneficial to soil, water and local habitat, and safer for the people who work with the products.
Golf Pro Nah never gave up the hunt to find the perfect solution – she thought making our own product – something specifically designed for our environment and needs - would be the best solution. She recently found her answer on YouTube – a video by Khun Jakrapruert Bunjertkij from the College of Farming in Phichit Province that demonstrated how using a few basic, local ingredients indigenous to Thailand created both a fertiliser and insecticide geared towards problems faced by rice farmers and which could be very similar to golf course grasses and their environment in Thailand.
With the combinations of ingredients like Nnem (Azadiracta indica) leaves (found in abundance at the golf academy), termite nests, cow poo, molasses, rice, brown sugar, water and sweetened condensed milk - a soil conditioner, an organic fertiliser, a compost decomposer and two types of insecticides can all be created to take care of all our needs – chemical free!
Fertilisers coming from fermented and decomposed organic materials are very nutritious safe materials. They enrich the soil plant food nutrients, improve the texture for easier root growth and preserve the soil life such as beneficial bacteria and fungi. They are three times faster than using homemade EM – a necessary requirement in golf course upkeep. Neem is a botanical insecticide derived from a tree native to Thailand, where it has been used for centuries to control insects. One of the most desirable properties of neem is its low degree of toxicity; it is considered almost nontoxic to humans and animals, and is completely biodegradable.
Being a Compass School implies a commitment to live, to strategize and to provide opportunity to think sustainability across the whole institution. The portals of sustainability remind practicing schools that Operational and Support Services and Buildings and Grounds are important entry points to infuse sustainable thinking into the system of an educational community.
Traidhos Three Generation Community for Learning, Chiang Mai, the community which includes Prem Tinsulanonda International School recently enabled representatives from across the campus, including accounts, housekeeping, engineering, gardening, operations, the nurse, and administrative staff to live and work together on their educational Barge as it traveled from Ayutthaya to Bangkok.
Staff enjoyed visits to new places and the chance to get to know colleagues better – an important contribution to their well-being, but also spent time considering ways to increase sustainability using AtKisson Compass as a thinking tool. Everyone identified a personal and a departmental targets to work towards on their return to Chang Mai. We hope that working with staff connected to these two portals will accelerate our progress to becoming more sustainable at all levels of the organization.
Staff identified developing a commitment to being service- minded as central to our community. Linkages were made across the compass point showing the positive contribution service mindedness has.Wellbeing
When staff are happy and feel secure and valued they are more willing to support other people happily.Nature
Beautiful grounds and good environmental practices make people feel welcome. Increased enrollment increases budget available for grounds development.Economy
When visitors receive good service and are greeted well, they are more likely to enroll their children, generating more income.Society
Cooperation between departments strengthens community and creates a positive ethos that people want to be part of. Our Traidhos Community can become a role model of good practice in Chiang Mai and the wider world.
Departments are encouraged to ask ‘is it necessary?’ before purchasing something, to purchase locally sourced products when possible, and to consider factors such as manufacturing processes, ingredients and quality that may affect long term use, repair and disposal. At final approval the President also requests assurance of these considerations.
Waste segregation bins are set up throughout campus to encourage recycling of plastics, glass, metal and paper products. Certain products are reclaimed for beneficial reuse, such as old tires that are turned into chairs or playground equipment. The Prem cafeteria collects leftover and discarded food for use at the Prem Farm for pig food, compost or worm bins. Certain fruit wastes are utilized to make effective microorganism (EM), which is then used to improve water quality in campus waterways, enhance composting, fertilize vegetation and make household and personal care products such as hand soap, shampoo and dish detergent.
For cleaning, EM is good at breaking down organic matter, so fat and oils that stick to or clog the pipes get cleaned up. EM is very active in reducing bad smells: by spraying an EM solution on the source of the smell, it will fade away within thirty minutes.
Fruit and vegetable peels from cafeteria are collected and brought to the farm, where most of it is used for feeding the animals and adding into the vermi-compost, but the pineapple peel is separated and used to make Pineapple EM: a floor cleaner and dishwashing liquid. The finished product then returns to the cafeteria for their cleaning activity.
Chemical free, 100% natural shampoo and conditioner which contains fresh kaffir lime fruit. It softens and makes your hair thick and shiny and protects against dandruff and hair loss. The essential oil in kaffir lime fruit makes you feel good and relaxed.
Ingredients: Kaffir lime fruit, Mee leaf, water
Produced: 27 Feb. 2513 Best before: 27 Feb.2514
Traidhos has always enjoyed the serenity that comes with limited vehicular traffic. Last year we explored biodiesel for campus tractors, and introduced a community bicycle program. The transportation department also discussed driving practices that affect fuel efficiency and vehicle maintenance.
In March 2013, a fleet of "banana bikes" was launched.
The shared Traidhos community resource is designed to remind people to use renewable energy, such a pedal power, and to promote personal fitness and enjoyment of the Traihdos Campus for anyone who would like to borrow a bike.
Traidhos employs musicians and dancers from the Nong Pla-Maan village for Khantoke dinners. This promotes cultural sharing and preservation of local wisdom. Members of the group get the joy of passing on cultural traditions and skills to the younger generation and earn some pocket money at the same time.
A group of animal-loving, service oriented volunteers and students from the Prem Tinsulanonda International School in Mae Rim, Thailand working together to promote a sustainable, healthy dog population at the temples in our surrounding community.
Hand to Paw began in February 2009 as part of the after-school Exploria and Community Action Service (CAS) programs for students’ grades 5-12. This popular and successful program currently serves 6 temples and over 40 dogs and has become an important part of our temple communities.
We believe the temples are an integral part of our community and the dogs that reside within those grounds are a community responsibility. With love and care we hope to provide these homeless street dogs a secure and healthy environment in which to live.
Our long term goal is to educate both students and locals against animal cruelty and stress the importance and benefits that dog sterilizations, immunizations and basic healthcare can have on our community. Required immunizations, sterilizations, medical and healthcare supplies and emergency medical treatments are all paid for by Hand to Paw fundraising efforts, donations from the public and the Care for Dog Foundation. Our motto - Together, we can make a difference!
We hope to spread the word about this program so that other school or individuals around Thailand will follow our lead and adopt a temple to care for!Hand to Paw and the Compass Model
The Three Generation Farm has welcomed several temporary workers since joining WWOOF in 2012. WWOOF connects interested volunteers with organic farms around the world, providing opportunities to share information and methods, labor, and travel and cultural experiences. Read about some WWOOFers’ experiences at Traidhos.
Did you know that 2012 is the International Year of Alternative Energy?
Curious as to what The International Year of Alternative Energy, this eco-friendly campaign, really means to an individual, the community and the broader world in an applicable way, the Traidhos Visiting Schools Program (VSP) sought to find a project to put it to the test. It had to be a project that could serve the hill tribe and other low-income communities that VSP works with throughout the year.
A community service project was organized in December 2011 with visiting students from King’s Academy, Jordan, to see the effects of MyShelter Foundation’s Litre of Light initiative taking place in The Philippines. Could they prove that water and an empty plastic bottle produce daytime lighting equivalent to a 55W electric bulb and could MyShelter Foundation’s lofty goals of lighting over one million homes in 2012 come from such a simple solution?
The Solar Bottle Bulb is as simple as it sounds. It provides an innovative minimal-cost, carbon-free lighting solution made from discarded 1.5 litre plastic bottles which are filled with filtered water and a few drops of bleach and salt. The clear water refracts the sun’s rays, dispersing the light in all directions. The salt slows down evaporation and the bleach prevents mould from growing in the bottle, allowing the mixture to last about two years.
In order to make the water bottles "light up," holes are cut into the roof panels and a bottle is placed so that the lower half protrudes from the ceiling. The bottles are secured with a rubber sealant around the outer edges and filled with the water and bleach mixture. The only other ingredient needed is sunshine!
A fun task that made non-believers into believers, the students were delighted to find the solar light bottle to be a very safe, inexpensive, efficient and sustainable lighting project to provide natural light in dark homes or buildings that have few or no windows or no electricity. As a "green" solution it also promotes reuse and recycling.
As new advocates to the solar bottle bulb VSP is determined to continue spreading this sustainable method of lighting to rural communities throughout Northern Thailand. Let there be light!
In addition to many charitable donations by groups and individuals throughout Traidhos, the Parent School Community regularly works to support charitable causes. In recent years, the PSC has helped raise money for the PTIS Scholarship Fund for a needy child, COSA (a home that provides education for at-risk girls), and flood victims in central Thailand.