We have a lot to learn when it comes to green schools. We acknowledge, categorize and celebrate schools in the United States that save resources and improve health and learning, yet we know far too little about comparable schools beyond this nation’s borders. At the Center for Green Schools, we’ve worked hard to come to a comprehensive definition of a “green school.” This definition has allowed us to identify schools that are improving the places where our children learn.
But what about schools that look dramatically different, don’t fall into traditional classification of “green” and break the mold? What about those schools that don’t use any electricity or use exclusively the harvested water in their own reserve? What about schools that naturally incorporate daylight into their classrooms because the classrooms are outdoors? These schools are undoubtedly fulfilling, and in many cases exceeding, traditional green school efforts, yet they defy our traditional image of a healthy, high-performing school. Although perhaps drastically different in esthetics, green schools all share certain characteristics. All conserve precious resources, reduce waste, improve occupant health, enhance learning and all educate the next generation of sustainability natives. These schools all bring tremendous value to their communities by providing an environment that promotes inspired learning and allows its students to dream of a brighter future. That is the true essence of a green school.
We know these schools exist globally but we have yet to identify and learn from them as much as we need to. I saw this first hand in Colombia, a country I had the opportunity to visit for the first annual Green Apple Day of Service, that introduced me to a new universe of green schools that are educating and benefitting communities around the world.
That is why last year the Center launched Greenest School on Earth award, honoring the Green School Bali for its conservation efforts. We’re excited to announce that the search is on for the 2013 Greenest School on Earth--an extraordinary school that is deeply committed to educating the next generation of sustainability natives. To shed light on schools that are transforming their communities, we are inviting kindergarten through 12th grade schools to apply. The winning school will demonstrate exemplary efforts to efficiently use resources and reduce environmental impact, enhance occupant health and learning and emphasize sustainability and resource-conservation education.
The most outstanding school will receive a $5,000 grant (or local currency equivalent) to be used toward a school sustainability initiative. A member of the Center for Green Schools will also present the award during an on-site celebration in late May.
Let your school shine. We can’t wait to see your submission!