There are hundreds of initiatives, both grassroots and national, to help transform the nation’s approximately 13,900 public K–12 school districts to reduce energy costs and consumption, and lessen their carbon footprint.*
Mayors’ Alliance for Green Schools
Recognizing sustainability in schools must come from grassroots efforts. The Mayors’ Alliance for Green Schools unites mayors from major cities and small towns across the country around the common goal of bringing the benefits of green schools to local communities.
The program was initiated in October 2008 by two mayors—Manuel A. Diaz of Miami, and Greg Nickels of Seattle. It works in conjunction with U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and its national network to harness the leadership and creativity of local community leaders nationwide.
A major initiative of the group is the development of public-private partnerships (P3s) with local businesses to enable schools to install vegetated roofs and solar panels, implement recycling and sustainable purchasing programs, and advance other green improvements.
Participating mayors also champion innovative legislation to promote the construction and retrofits of green schools and related projects, such as safe biking and walking routes for students, developing and integrating green curriculum, and making facility operations and maintenance more efficient.
Green Schools Alliance
Created by schools for schools, the Green Schools Alliance (GSA) is a global network of sustainability coordinators—faculty, staff, students, and administrators—working together to solve environmental and climate challenges. GSA member schools share and implement sustainable best practices, and promote connections between schools, communities, and the environment by offering programs, exchanging resources, and creating peer-to-peer forums.
The GSA has an annual competition, Green Cup Energy Challenge, which is the largest national electricity use reduction competition among K–12 schools. This year, students from 120 schools across the country competed to reduce energy consumption. The challenge, now in its sixth year, is designed to raise awareness about energy conservation and provide concrete action towards reduction.
The Congressional Green Schools Caucus
The Congressional Green Schools Caucus, now approaching 70 members, was formed as a way to educate and inform members of Congress on the impact they have on the nation’s sustainability approach to new and existing school buildings. With support from USGBC, it empowers federal legislators to make schools greener.
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 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, see U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Buildings Technologies Program book, Guide to Operating and Maintaining EnergySmart Schools.
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