GLADSTONE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The building is alive.

The Willow School in Gladstone goes beyond being green. As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, it’s considered a living organism.

“You can help the environment by doing very simple things,” said Olivia, a student at the school.

The school’s brand new Health, Wellness and Nutrition Center is the largest “green living” educational building in the United States, built from recycled materials.

“This building looks at every nut, bolt and screw for carbon footprint,” said Willow School co-founder Mark Biedron.

Biedron said the structure has off-the-charts indoor air quality and all natural lighting, proven to result in better learning.

“Increased student performance, increased test scores,” Biedron said.

One of the many features that makes the school sustainable is a water tank filled with rainwater, which is filtered and treated right on campus.

The water is used to flush toilets and irrigate student-run gardens.

“The toilet water is actually cleaner than tap water, which I learned recently, and I thought that was really cool,” one student said.

It’s hands-on learning. Children plant seeds in the gardens and harvest the crops.

“They’re growing their own food,” said Anthony Sblendorio, a trustee for the school. “It’s part of their classes, and they’re consuming it as well.”

Said seventh-grader Andre Golumbeski: “I am most looking forward to using this teaching kitchen because I love cooking.”

The Willow School makes health and nutrition just as important as math, scienece and art.

“Al lunch, we separate the compost from the waste, and we also dump liquids,” said fifth-grader Eliot Richards.

It’s full circle. The compost is then brought back outside to fertilize the lants.

Teachers say the building, which cost $7.5 million to construct, is a new tool to help students understand that all living things are connected, not just on Earth Day, but every day.

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