Quest For A Green School

by Hope Gribble, Education & Green Schools Coordinator,
USGBC-Missouri Gateway

Quest. A peek in the dictionary reveals a spirited description: 1) a search or pursuit made in order to find or obtain something. 2) an adventurous expedition undertaken by a knight or knights to secure or achieve something. 3) those engaged in such an expedition.
Are you ready for an adventurous expedition? One with the capacity to offer environmental, social and economic benefits to the younger generation – and collective community? How about your school, students, friends, family, colleagues, community – are they ready? I am. And I’m not alone.

Beginning May 1st, the U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter is challenging public and private schools in Missouri and Southern Illinois to devise and implement the most creative, effective and no or low cost sustainable practices for their schools. This project-based challenge is called the Green Schools Quest.

Participating schools are asked to form a Green Team which may be a single classroom, a grade level, an entire school or a student club. To assist the schools, a USGBC-MGC Green Mentor will be assigned to each school Green Team to help with ideas, documentation, and resources. School Green Teams and their mentors work together throughout the school year to engage in sustainability projects fitting their schools’ unique needs and resources.

A wealth of possibilities exist! For example, school Green Teams could:

  • Set goals or competitions within classes, grades or school-wide with prizes to recognize sustainable practices (e.g., least waste or most students walking to school.)
  • Have a local foods lunch one day per month.
  • Hold a “Green the Classroom” day to improve classroom indoor air quality; clean the clutter and remove undesirable cleaning products.
  • Propose or implement a Solid Waste Management Policy: list what gets recycled, composted, reused and land-filled.
  • Create a sculpture from found and recycled materials, or a mural encouraging green practices.
  • Determine how much energy their school uses and display results for everyone to see.
  • Capture rainwater and use it to water indoor plants, greenhouses, gardens and other outdoor plants.
  • Start a walking school bus program or encourage school and parent participation in carpooling programs.
  • Investigate the costs of installing different types of renewable energy sources at the school. Determine what rebates and incentives are available. Present findings to school leadership.

Regardless of the exact projects, the Green Schools Quest aims to encourage students to think creatively about sustainability while setting the stage for practical conservation practices going forward.

Join in this adventurous expedition to improve local learning and teaching environments! Applications for both schools and mentors open May 1, 2013. Deadline for mentor applications is August 1, school applications is September 16. Projects will begin October 2013 and run through mid-March 2014. Each team will document their project’s impact throughout the Quest’s parameters and enter their results at the conclusion of the challenge. Cash awards and recognition for elementary, middle and high schools await the student teams’ responses to the challenge.

Learn more at www.usgbc-mogateway.org/green-school-quest.