Every day the Center for Green Schools is working to create and support programs, resources and partnerships that transform all schools into healthy learning environments.
Let us tell you a little bit about how we do that!
Equip and Empower
The Center for Green Schools provides students and staff across every level of education with the tools and resources they need to transform their learning environments. Through leadership trainings, continuing education opportunities, and strategic guidance, the Center helps schools, districts and institutions optimize school environments for learning, conserve resources and put money back into the classroom where it belongs.
K-12 school sustainability leadership
The Center for Green Schools is committed to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to attend a school that is healthy, safe and efficient. We know that, even in these challenging economic times, school districts are doing everything they can to provide their students with a quality education and a safe place to learn.
Every day, school leaders are faced with a host of challenges, from meeting ever-shifting academic standards to tackling an ever-growing deferred maintenance list. With capital and operating budgets stretched thin, there are more problems than funds to address them. At the Center for Green Schools, we help school districts optimize school environments for learning, conserve resources and put money back into the classroom.
Building upon successful initiatives like our Green Schools Fellowship and Scholarship Programs, the Center convenes the nation’s only network for school district sustainability professionals. This network of over 150 professionals stays connected through an online network, quarterly webcasts, and an annual School Sustainability Leaders’ Summit. Individuals who would like to be added to this network can request access by emailing [email protected].
The group we convene is a vibrant network of school districts of all shapes and sizes. Each district we work with is dedicated to positively impacting the health and performance of the thousands of students, teachers and staff that it serves and blazing the trail for other districts to follow. Join us!
Students know what it means to live sustainably, and they are the best advocates for transforming schools into places that are inspiring, thought provoking and good for the planet and everyone on it. Students across the country are leading environmental organizations in their schools. These students plant gardens on school property, calculate carbon footprints, advocate for green building policies, assess school energy use, enforce the school’s recycling program with their peers, encourage educators to bring sustainability curriculum into the classroom, and much more.
USGBC Students are hard at work transforming their campuses, communities and careers. Representing college and university-based groups and individuals, USGBC Students provides a way for hundreds of young leaders to come together and participate in hands-on green building experiences on their own campuses. USGBC helps students integrate sustainability themes into their coursework, advocates for sustainable university practices and policies, and facilitates student attendance at green building conferences, events and collaborations with other student organizations, campaigns and initiatives.
USGBC Students recruit, connect and equip the next generation of green building leaders by empowering them to transform their campuses, communities and careers.
Representing college and university-based groups of students USGBC Students provides a way for young leaders to participate in green building experiences on their campuses through service initiatives.
Opportunities and resources available to USGBC Students:
- Student LEED exam pricing: For the first time, students are able to take the LEED Green Associate exam for a reduced fee. Register for the Green Associate exam, and download a free handbook to prepare.
- Access to LEED 101 & LEED 201 at Education @USGBC: All students have access to LEED 101 with a usgbc.org user profile created with a .edu email address. Submit an interest form to receive access to LEED 201.
- Trademark and Logo Guidelines: All students must follow USGBC Students brand guidelines when representing the organization. Email [email protected] to request a high-resolution version of the logo.
If you’re interested in becoming a USGBC Student, please complete this form, and we’ll be in touch very soon!
LEED Lab is a multidisciplinary immersion course that utilizes the built environment to educate and prepare students to become green building leaders and sustainability-focused citizens. In the course students assess the performance of existing facilities on campus and choose one building where they will facilitate the LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M) process with the goal of certifying the facility. At the close of the semester the students are prepared to sit for the LEED AP O+M professional credential exam.
LEED Lab meets the needs of the building industry by equipping students with the skills, knowledge and expertise required to be effective communicators, project managers, critical thinkers, problem solvers, engaged leaders, and team players.
The LEED Lab offering is now available for adoption by any higher education institution. Learn how your institution can offer a LEED Lab by expressing interest.
Articles about LEED Lab
The LEED Lab effort originated with a pilot course created and taught by Professor Patricia Andrasik at the Catholic University of America.
Thanks to the following institutions for hosting LEED Lab:
The Green Classroom Professional Certificate
The Green Classroom Professional (GCP) Certificate program provides preK-12 educators and school staff with the knowledge to identify what supports or impedes healthy, resource efficient and environmentally sustainable learning spaces. The course and exam help participants recognize, adopt, and implement practices that keep teachers and students focused, alert and ready to learn.
The Certificate is earned through a two-hour online course and a 30 question concluding exam, both accessible online from any computer. The course consists of twelve self-guided, interactive modules that allow the participant to enter and exit the program on their own schedule within a 60-day window.
After completing the course and exam, participants will be able to:
- Support the health of school occupants, including teachers, students and staff
- Provide the best physical environment possible for student academic performance
- Decrease absenteeism due to environmental factors
- Support environmentally responsible practices by saving energy, saving water and improving indoor environmental quality
- Foster an appreciation among future generations for environmentally sustainable practices
- Become part of the green schools and green building communities
- Apply for elective continuing education credits to maintain a teaching credential
Price per participant: USGBC Members: $40; Non-Member: $60.
For questions about or assistance with the Green Classroom Professional Certificate program, including for bulk or group purchasing, please write our staff at [email protected].
Green Schools Conference & Expo
Collaboration and education are necessary ingredients to help move forward with schools that are better for the environment and healthier for the students, teachers and other staff who work inside them every day.
The Green Schools Conference & Expo, a national event presented by the U.S. Green Building Council and The Center for Green Schools, connects those passionate and interested about green schools with best-in-class sustainable practices, products, services, programming and other tools. This year’s conference will be held March 31 to April 1 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Created in 2011, the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions that are demonstrating leadership in three Pillars:
- Reducing environmental impact and costs, including waste, water, energy use and alternative transportation;
- Improving the health and wellness of students and staff, including environmental health, nutrition and fitness; and
- Providing effective sustainability education, including robust environmental education that engages STEM, civic skills and green career pathways.
ED-GRS encourages state education, health, and environment authorities, stakeholders, and school communities to consider matters of facilities, health and environment comprehensively, strengthening the critical collaborations that ensure all of our nation's schools are healthier, safer, and more sustainable.
To support this journey towards wholly greener schools, the Green Strides web portal, powered by the Center for Green Schools in support of the Department of Education, connects school communities across the country with free, publically-available resources to support green school. The Green Strides portal provides a one-stop-shop for resources, webinars, case studies, best practices and collaboration so that all schools can make progress across every Pillar.
Community Green helps community colleges prepare students for careers in sustainability. Thanks to the generous support of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, two-year institutions in Texas, California, Washington, Illinois, Virginia, Florida, New York, Michigan, North Carolina, and New Jersey can gain access to an array of valuable benefits to support robust green building and sustainability education for students. Community Green works directly with faculty members at eligible institutions to provide the following benefits.
For students pursuing a LEED Green Associate credential
Each student enrolled in a LEED Green Associate preparation course or faculty-led study group will receive the following support and resources:
- One free registration for the LEED Green Associate exam
- Access to the following study publications: LEED Core Concepts Guide (Third Edition) and LEED Green Associate Exam Preparation Guide (LEED v4 Edition)
- One-year subscription to Education @USGBC
Faculty members instructing the LEED Green Associate preparation course or leading the study group will receive a one-year subscription to Education @USGBC as well as one year of access to an online LEED Green Associate v4 Exam Prep Course presented by a USGBC Education Partner.
For students pursuing a LEED AP credential
Each student enrolled in a LEED AP with Specialty prep course or faculty-led study group will receive the following support and resources:
- One free registration for LEED AP with Specialty exam (BD+C, O+M, or Homes)
- Access to the appropriate LEED Reference Guide (BD+C, O+M, or Homes)
- One-year subscription to Education @USGBC
Faculty members instructing the LEED AP with Specialty exam preparation course or leading the study group will receive a one-year subscription to Education @USGBC as well as one year of access to an online LEED AP v4 Exam Prep Course presented by a USGBC Education Partner.
Catalyze and Connect
Volunteers and community advocates have always been the foundation of the green schools movement. The vision of green schools for all within this generation has united communities across geographic, political and economic spectrums. By working together over the last decade we’ve improved the places where millions of our children learn.
Green Apple Day of Service
The Green Apple Day of Service gives community members, teachers, students, companies and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments through local service projects. Since 2012, more than 675,000 volunteers have participated around the world to make our schools healthier, more sustainable places to learn.
Coalitions for Green Schools: Connecting a global movement
The Coalitions for Green Schools creates a powerful global force for ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn in a green school within this generation. It seeks to amplify the voices of the many local, national and global coalitions around the world who work tirelessly to make their schools healthy, safe and efficient.
Powered by the Center for Green Schools’ historic success and the expertise of the World GBC, the Coalitions for Green Schools works alongside its national members to share best practices, resources and case studies, provide tools and infrastructure to this growing network of national coalitions, and introduce programs, initiatives and campaigns that can be replicated across the world.
Modeled on the tremendous successes of the U.S. Coalition for Green Schools and the new and thriving network of more than 30 other national coalitions for green schools, state coalitions will raise public awareness that where we learn matters; advise on forward-thinking, bipartisan green school policies at the state and local level; and convene stakeholders across the three pillars of a green school (environmental impact, human health and sustainability literacy).
National Coalitions for Green Schools bring together a country’s strongest advocates for children, in order to create a national vision of healthy, high performance schools that are conducive to learning while saving energy, resources and money. In the U.S. alone, the U.S. Coalition for Green Schools Executive Committee collectively represents more than 11 million members nationwide.
The Global Coalition for Green Schools creates a powerful global force for ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn in a green school within this generation. It seeks to amplify the voices of the many national coalitions around the world who work tirelessly to make their schools healthy, safe and efficient. The Global Coalition works alongside its national members to share best practices, resources and case studies, provide tools and infrastructure to this growing network of national coalitions, and introduce programs, initiatives and campaigns that can be replicated across the world.
Congressional Green Schools Caucus
United in the belief that healthy, environmentally friendly schools promote learning, save taxpayer money and benefit everyone, The Congressional Green Schools Caucus brings together leaders across political parties.
The Congressional Green Schools Caucus, now approaching 50 members, was formed as a way to educate and inform members of Congress on the enormous impact they have on our nation’s approach to new and existing school buildings. With support from USGBC, the Caucus empowers federal legislators to work together and with their constituents to take advantage of opportunities to make our schools greener, our students and teachers healthier and our communities stronger.
The Caucus hosts regular briefings on the benefits of green schools, supports policy discussions, creates opportunities for caucus members to work to advance legislative and programmatic goals together and equips members of Congress with resources for their constituents. Caucus members and their staff also participate in educational programs to learn what is going on nationally and in their districts, including site visits to green schools and educational panels with teachers, architects and school officials from across the country.
For more information about the Congressional Green Schools Caucus and ways to support its expanding efforts, please contact Bryan Howard at [email protected].
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR-3rd)
Rep. Robert Brady (PA-1st)
Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24th)
Rep. André Carson (IN-7th)
Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27th)
Rep. Katherine Clark (MA-5th)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (MO-5th)
Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9th)
Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11th)
Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-2nd)
Rep. Mike Doyle (PA-14th)
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1st)
Rep. Michael Honda (CA-17th)
Rep. Steve Israel (NY-3rd)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18th)
Rep. Henry Johnson (GA-4th)
Rep. Dale Kildee (MI-5th)
Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13th)
Rep. John Lewis (GA-5th)
Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3rd)
Rep. David Loebsack (IA-2nd)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19th)
Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-6th)
Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10th)
Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-4th)
Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-2nd)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-9th)
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-6th)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-1st)
Rep. Jared Polis (CO-2nd)
Rep. Mike Quigly (IL-5th)
Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-13th)
Rep. Gregorio Sablan (MP At-Large)
Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-8th)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-8th)
Rep. Peter Welch, (VT At-Large)
Rep. John Yarmuth (KY-3rd)
USGBC 50 for 50 Green Schools Caucus Initiative
Many of the most important decisions made about our nation's schools come at the state level. The 50 for 50 initiative is a catalyst for forward-thinking state legislators to coordinate, educate and reach out to their colleagues and constituents about the many benefits of green schools. From construction to renovation to curriculum to operations and maintenance, the caucuses will serve as an information resource for this increasingly sophisticated and complex public policy area.
Interested in becoming a member of your state's Green School Caucus?
Caucus members have access to:
- The latest innovations and developments in green building policies, including trends, cost-benefit studies and incentives offered by localities to advance and promote green building.
- Networking opportunities with like-minded legislators across the country.
- Opportunities for partnerships with experts in their communities, from architects to engineers to contractors.
- Opportunities to present best practices and successes in regional and national forums.
For more information about the 50 for 50 Green Schools Caucus Initiative, as well as ways to sponsor future Green Schools State Legislative Summits, resource development, or the activities of the Advisory Council, please contact Nate Allen at [email protected].
Reach and Recognize
The Center for Green Schools and its partners celebrate the best and the brightest within this global movement, through our own recognition efforts and by supporting national awards programs.
The Best of Green Schools
The Best of Green Schools list is an annual announcement made by the Center for Green Schools highlighting schools, districts, individuals and communities for their efforts to create healthy, efficient learning environments. K-12 and higher education leaders are recognized for a variety of sustainability efforts including energy conservation, environmental innovation, collaborative platforms, community engagement, policies to green school infrastructure, and more.
Get to know the Best of Green Schools winners:
The Greenest School on Earth
The Greenest School on Earth recognition is an annual announcement highlighting a K-12 school that exemplifies how sustainability can be integrally woven into the infrastructure, culture and curriculum of a school.
Inspired by the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools criteria, the Center’s “Greenest Schools on Earth” are selected based upon their progress toward the following:
- Efficient use of resources and reduced environmental impact
- Enhanced health and learning among students, teachers and staff
- Emphasis on sustainability and resource-conservation education
Take the next step and get involved
There’s room in the green schools movement for everyone—including you!
Whether you are a student, parent, school or education-related staff; a taxpayer, elected official; or if your job is tied to designing, constructing, operating or maintaining schools. Together we can transform our schools into healthy and inspiring places to work and learn, at a local or national level.