It seems like only yesterday, but it’s been 10 years since USGBC launched the National Green Schools Campaign alongside partners at the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) event, committing to a vision of green schools for every child. That same year, USGBC launched the LEED for Schools rating system, which provided a leadership standard for better, healthier school buildings.
After listening to and learning from school leaders around the country, USGBC founded the Center for Green Schools almost exactly three years after its CGI commitment, with support from United Technologies Corp., broadening its foundational work in the green building movement to encompass topics and issues important to teachers, students, staff and parents.
Contributions to the green schools movement
Just as when we started, the Center for Green Schools is committed to the highest-impact opportunities to accelerate a global green schools movement. Since the founding:
- We have inspired 2,013 certified and 2,133 registered LEED K–12 school projects as well as 4,247 certified and 3,862 registered LEED college and university projects.
- We introduced, with partners, the concept of Green Ribbon Schools to the U.S. Department of Education and encouraged it to launch the award program. We partnered with the agency to design and host its web site, greenstrides.org, the largest repository of free sustainability resources for schools.
- Our staff and volunteers have worked with state governments to establish the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award program in dozens of states, strengthening the program’s “three pillars” of a green school as unifying criteria for the movement. This criteria are now used by organizations in 28 countries around the world.
- We have inspired and sustained community service in schools through Green Apple Day of Service, driving the action of more than 790,000 volunteers across 73 countries since 2012, impacting more than 7.1 million students.
- We lead the premier conference for green schools leaders and advocates, the annual Green Schools Conference and Expo.
- We co-published the most comprehensive analysis of the current state of K–12 school buildings in more than 20 years through the publication of the 2016 State of Our Schools report, which appeared in dozens of local and national press outlets and generated more than 546 million media impressions.
- We have reinforced the argument that healthy learning environments lead to thriving communities with the publication of hundreds of pages of original research and policy analysis.
- Through our network of over 300 state lawmakers, we have helped to increase the introduction of green schools legislation in U.S. states fivefold.
- We have been the primary voice for a new job class, the K–12 sustainability director, providing professional development to a growing network of 120 school district staff who collectively serve over 7.5 million students.
- We have established four Green Schools Fellowships to successfully institutionalize sustainability positions in school districts. In addition, we have directly supported intensive professional development for 21 individuals through yearlong scholarships for school district sustainability staff.
- We unveiled Learning Lab, a robust platform for curriculum content, which piloted with over 1,000 teachers in 26 countries. The platform now hosts over 500 lessons in both English and Spanish, provided by 10 high-quality partner organizations besides USGBC.
- We launched LEED Lab, a course to teach the LEED rating system to college and university students by giving them hands-on experience in one of their buildings, an opportunity now offered in 25 institutions around the world.
We’ve been busy, as have the thousands of people we work with each day to make green schools for every child a reality. Don’t miss what we’re up to next—make sure you’re signed up for the Center for Green Schools updates in your usgbc.org subscriptions. And join us in person in May 2018, as we celebrate at the Green Schools Conference and Expo in Denver.