Each year, leaders in system-wide school sustainability from across the world join together to share strategies for improving resource efficiency, human health, and environmental education in schools and school districts. The fifth annual School Sustainability Leaders' Summit, hosted by the Center for Green Schools at the U. S. Green Building Council, was held in Washington, D.C. on June 24-26, 2015. The event is the only convening in the U.S. specifically designed for staff at school districts and independent schools who are responsible for system-wide environmental sustainability strategy.
The Summit invites a small number of attendees each year, based on applications, each of whom is his or her school system’s point person for environmental sustainability. To define sustainability in schools, we use the “three pillars” of green schools: increased resource efficiency, enhanced human health, and active environmental learning. Past attendees have held positions such as Resource Conservation Manager, Energy Manager, Facilities Director, and Sustainability Director. The online application is opened each year through an article on the Center for Green Schools’ web site.
Attendees to the Summit gain a better understanding of both the dynamics of organizational change leadership and the ins and outs of implementing sustainability programs at their school systems. After hearing from experts in change management theory, attendees discuss best practices that they can use to influence decision-making and system culture in their daily work. Attendees then co-create strategies for implementing sustainability practices, using the uniqueness of each school system as a foundation. Content requests through the attendees’ applications inform both the content and the speakers for each sustainability topic discussed at the Summits.