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7 Steps to a Green School

1. Establish A Green Team or Eco-Committee

The Green Team is the heart of the Green Schools process by organizing and directing activities. Consisting of students, teachers, custodians, facilities managers, parents and school board members. The Green Team is democratic and can be run by the students themselves. Whatever type of school or age group, student involvement in the committee is essential. The group can be responsible for coordinating the greening activities, making recommendations to relevant school decision-makers, and facilitating communication among and actions by the whole school community.


2. Adopt An Environmental Vision Statement or Planet Pledge

Create your own vision statement, setting out what the students and/or school community are striving to achieve. The Environmental Vision Statement is displayed in places within the school and recognized by the students and community as a statement of beliefs and intents. This statement is often in the words of students, and can be an inspiring classroom, art, or school-wide assembly project. Such statements can be accompanied by a resolution from the school board, Parent Teacher Association, the Green Team, or other school bodies. 

3. Conduct A School Environmental Survey

Identify priorities for action. Begin by conducting a review of the school’s environmental impact. Students are involved in assessing the level of waste from school lunch, checking the building for inefficiencies such as leaky taps, or electrical equipment left on overnight. The school and the Green Team work with local organizations, businesses, or other resource people  during the review. These audits can be fun and help educate the school community about the health and environmental impacts of the school.

4. Create A Green School Action Plan

5. Monitor and Evaluate Progress

Use the results of your environmental survey to identify priorities in the key areas where you want to make change and create an action plan. Set realistic and achievable targets to improve environmental performance at the school so kids and adults can take pride in tangible accomplishments in the short term. It is important to set long-term, inspiring and challenging targets to move beyond the status quo and foster greater environmental improvements. The action plan could involve and promote a school recycling program; eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning materials; carpooling; energy conservation like turning off lights, computer monitors and printers; or a school garden. 

The Green Team, students, or other school community members can assist with monitoring and evaluating progress on the priorities in the action plan that can involve conducting an annual environmental audit to monitor levels of waste, recycling, energy use, purchases of environmentally-preferable products, and financial savings and/or costs. Use these ecological footprint tools to ensure that progress towards the goals and targets is made and that the action plan is modified, if necessary. It ensures that environmental education is an on-going process in the school, since students can be responsible for the annual audits. The basic data collected over time can show the waste, pollution, and energy avoided - big motivators for people to continue the efforts.

6. Integrate Greening into the Curriculum

Greening activities can be integrated into existing curricula in science, art, humanities, math, language arts, or electives. Using the school as a hands-on laboratory offers opportunities for real-world problem-solving. Students can undertake study of themes such as energy, water, forests, toxic pollution, and waste. The whole school should be involved in practical initiatives like saving water, recycling materials and saving energy. Outdoor education, and time spent in nature locally is a critical component of a hands-on, place-based, experiential education. Where environmental education is not part of the regular curriculum, recommendations can be made by the Green Team as to how these themes can be incorporated. 

7. Inform, Involve, and Celebrate!

Honor, celebrating, and communicating about achievements are critical components of a Green School! Greening programs often unify the whole school and strengthen community relations. Your might consider partnering with external organizations from the community to benefit from their experience and expertise. In some schools, environmental consultants have offered to take part in the environmental review process. Many local government agencies and utilities offer free advice on energy, recycling, and hazardous waste management. Schools should consider the wider community when preparing action plans - for example, schools could offer to be the local recycling point or to be a drop-off for Community Supported Agriculture boxes. Some schools get involved with clean-up or habitat restoration at nearby parks. A communication and publicity program keeps the school and the community informed of progress through classroom displays, school assemblies, newsletters, or other press coverage. Communicating is key to spreading success and inspiring more actions. Annual Earth Day celebrations offer an opportunity to showcase actions taken by the school and bring together the school and wider community.