New Building Learners program helps schools teach sustainability performance

Published on: 
29 Apr 2019
Jenny Wiedower

USGBC offers a new program for K–12 schools that incorporates building data into the classroom like never before. The Building Learners program equips schools with curriculum, training, a volunteer mentor and the Arc building performance platform. With guidance and tools, school teams are empowered to engage students in real-world, hands-on learning about sustainability performance and its connection to their studies, their future careers, and their local and global communities.

Building Learners prepares schools for authentic student engagement and data-driven sustainability improvements by emphasizing two key approaches:

  • Cross-functional collaboration in which a teacher, school operations leader and local green building professional lead the design and implementation of the Building Learners program. Each member of the integrated core team brings expertise and a unique perspective.
  • A continuous learning cycle in which students are the drivers of learning and action. The cycle begins with an investigation or audit of a sustainability performance metric such as energy, waste, water or air quality. After analyzing the data they have collected, students research, propose a solution and implement an action project aimed at improving sustainability performance. A second audit helps students study the results of their intervention and plan next steps…with some celebrating of their successes in between.

For those who engage in Building Learners, benefits abound:

  • Teachers can engage students without leaving the school building; they receive professional development and can learn alongside sustainability industry professionals.
  • LEED professionals play a key role in assisting school staff and students in understanding green building science and making classroom-to-career connections. They can learn how to use Arc, as well as earn volunteer hours toward maintaining their LEED credentials.
  • School facilities and sustainability staff can make informed decisions about facilities improvements using data, and can connect to the educational program of the school.
  • Students work alongside a range of professionals and develop skills in problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration, while addressing real-world issues that impact their school communities.

Know of a school that would be a great fit with Building Learners? Visit the Building Learners page to learn more and get involved.

Explore Building Learners