Walking the green schools talk: Communities in action

Published on: 
7 Jul 2017
Anisa Heming

All around the United States, USGBC communities are putting the mission of green schools into action, and staff and volunteers at the Center for Green Schools have been showcasing this commitment through our work with schools all year long.

Here are a few examples of what’s going on around the country:

North and South Carolina

In February, volunteers with the USGBC South Carolina Low Country Branch participated in the fourth annual Charleston STEM Fest 2017, an outdoor celebration of science, technology, engineering and math. UNC Charlotte and UNC Wilmington hosted two sustainability career panels in April, engaging USGBC partners and experts from the field in preparing students as they consider careers in sustainability and green building.

USGBC North Carolina has partnered with the Bellamy Mansion in Wilmington to support the Kids Architectural Summer Camp in July, teaching them green building lessons as part of the camp’s focus on history, architecture, restoration and preservation. Finally, during this year's annual Green Gala in September, three college students whose applications are chosen will receive scholarships to attend Greenbuild 2017 in Boston.


Community staff and volunteers in USGBC Georgia are getting a head start on Green Apple Day of Service, and the Georgia community will showcase the projects of 30 schools that sign up early, as examples for others. In addition, schools will participate in a training in early September for teachers and students to work with a mentor on a long-term project with Georgia’s Green YOUR School program, where they will brainstorm potential projects with peers. 


The USGBC Colorado community is gearing up for their annual Green Schools Summit in October 2017. They’re also using the opportunity to celebrate a top-notch school that just achieved LEED Gold in March. Organizers of the summit are planning a tour of the Fort Logan Northgate 3–8 School in Sheridan, which also earned a 2015 Learning by Design award for “Outstanding School.” 


Gardens were planted this spring as part of Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Planting Week, and USGBC Minnesota celebrated in the new outdoor classroom at Washburn Elementary School. USGBC staff, volunteers and school employees will work on Phase Two of the project, along with community partners NACUBO and Hands On Twin Cities. As a Green Apple Day of Service kick-off project in July, they’ll build a shade structure, modular benches, birdhouses and a Little Free Library.

North Dakota

Alongside the winter’s Fargo Frostival, USGBC North Dakota held the Green Applympics at Kids Winter Boot Camp. Kids played games, built windmills, participated in recycling races, and competed in quizzes. Volunteers also took hosted a LEED scavenger hunt at the Red River Zoo on Earth Day. Visitors learned about sustainable aspects of the zoo and how they could bring those concepts home. This fall, USGBC North Dakota will partner with schools in Fargo as part of Green Apple Day of Service.


In June, USGBC Wisconsin met with representatives from the Milwaukee Public School District’s Starms Early Childhood Center to conduct an ADVANCE KickStart session. USGBC staff, an industry volunteer, and a Milwaukee Area Technical College student in the Automated Building Systems degree program assisted. The session identified opportunities for improvement, including leveraging the further stages of ADVANCE to support their vision.

Kansas and Missouri

Sara Dykman, a 32-year-old field biologist from Kansas, talked to students at two Shawnee Mission Elementary Schools in Overland Park as part of the USGBC Central Plains Green Apple Day of Service. Dykman is in the middle of a 10,000-mile bicycle ride to observe and study monarch butterfly migration. Along the way, she is speaking at schools to support environmental education.


Lincoln Public Schools and its district sustainability coordinator, Brittney Albin, are leading the way in green as part of our Arc + Schools initiative. Albin was one of five USGBC School District Sustainability Scholarship recipients in the 2016–2017 school year. As one of the nine districts participating, Lincoln Public Schools will provide feedback to USGBC directly about the value Arc can provide specifically to schools.

New Mexico

In May, the U.S. Department of Education announced this year’s Green Ribbon Schools award recipients. New Mexico had special reason to celebrate, as one of this year’s honorees, the LEED Silver Sandia Vista Elementary from Rio Rancho Public Schools, is only the second school in the state to ever earn an ED-Green Ribbon Schools designation. The team will be recognized in July at the annual reception in Washington, D.C., in honor of the Green Ribbon awardees.

Get a project going in your community with Green Apple Day of Service