Green School Frameworks

Green School Frameworks

Anisa Baldwin Metzger (The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council®, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6312-1.ch001
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Abstract

Many green schools frameworks exist to guide schools toward environmentally responsible choices. Through the various lenses that green school frameworks provide, we can see a fuller picture of what comprises a green school – within the physical space, the organizational culture and the educational mission. This chapter describes the underlying themes within several major K-12 green school frameworks in order to better explain each framework's purpose and interrelationship. The frameworks within this chapter vary in reach and scope, but all have similar aims: to create supportive school environments that teach students a deeper sense of their responsibility toward their community and their world. Because the goals of all green schools are, at root, global in scale, the pathways and the metrics can appear complex. This chapter provides an overview of the most widely-used frameworks to clarify the powerful underlying values that tie them together.
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Overarching Green Schools Concepts

According to the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a green school is a school that creates a healthy environment that is conducive to learning while saving energy, resources and money. The core of this definition is the popular triple bottom line of sustainability historically used in the business community: social, environmental and economic (Elkington, 1997). More than perhaps in any business sector or organizational endeavor, the social impact—the message that school environments send and the lessons that these environments teach—is essential to how environmental sustainability is implemented within schools.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education launched the Green Ribbon Schools Award Program, a monumental step forward for the green schools movement. The award’s application asks schools to demonstrate their progress toward three aspirational goals: zero environmental footprint (including energy, water, waste and carbon), a positive impact on occupant health and performance and demonstrated environmental literacy by all graduates (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). The three pillars—environmental impact, human health and ecoliteracy—act as a simple, elegant organizing principle for schools journeying toward whole-school sustainability (see Figure 1). As a variation on the traditional triple bottom line, the three pillars match more closely with the intentions of school operations and management.

Figure 1.

The Green Ribbon Schools criteria aim to recognize schools achievements in efforts to lower environmental footprint, positively impact health and increase the number of environmentally literate graduates. (Credit: Center for Green Schools at USGBC)

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