Measuring our impact: CFGS project update

Published on: 
3 May 2016
Emma Arnold

Over the past several months, the Center for Green Schools (Center) has been working with dozens of green schools organizations on a project we’re calling “Measuring Our Impact.” The Measuring Our Impact project aims to define a clear and comprehensive set of measures, shared by the whole green schools community, which all schools can use to track their progress toward sustainability.

We think about these measures in harmony with the three pillars of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools: minimized environmental impact, improved occupant health and environmental and sustainability literacy for all graduates. 

We also like to think about shared measures as sitting at the intersection of three categories: information that many organizations are already gathering from schools, outcomes that research has indicated have demonstrated impact and data that is accessible or could be accessible in the near future.

Data inventory and analysis

For the past several months, we have been working to better understand this first category of measures and answer the question: what are the most common concepts and themes our community is asking about schools?

In order to answer this question, we reached out to a broad network of 67 green schools organizations to collect and compile their frameworks and datasets into a central repository. We analyzed this repository in several steps, considering popularity, depth, and range of certain green schools topics.

The results? We found that, across the first two pillars, the leading categories are as follows: 

To read more about the categorization and analysis, check out our complete review of the data inventory and analysis.

What’s next?

Our next steps focus on examining the overlap between what the green schools community is asking schools and what the experts tell us has demonstrated impact on health and the environment. We’re collaborating with Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, which is helping to identify growing consensus and gaps within existing research on the effects of school buildings on childhood health. We’re also working with the Collaborative for High Performance Schools and the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on Architecture for Education toward the publication of a national research agenda for healthy schools.

Our approach for defining measures of success for schools in environmental and sustainability literacy is being driven by a small group of diverse thought leaders from the preeminent organizations in the field. This group will furnish recommendations for targets at which schools should aim in pursuit of preparing environmentally and sustainability-literate graduates, and their work involves a comprehensive review of existing practices and literature.

We are excited to continue our process of stakeholder engagement, working with organizations across the green schools movement to gain insights and guidance on this important initiative. If you or your organization is interested in getting involved with this work, please sign up to receive updates or email us.      

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