The Green Schools Quest is ON — Because Where We Learn Matters!

Green Schools Quest

by Cindy Bambini, USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Green Schools Committee Member and Director of Business Development, Brightergy

It’s August in St. Louis and you know what that means… the latest and greatest options for school supplies have been in the stores for almost a month, swimsuits and shorts are on the final mark-down racks and everyone is trying to divert our attention from another lazy day by the pool to getting ready for the kids to head back to school. No matter what day school actually starts, it always seems too early for me, and yet I have to admit, by the time August does roll around, I think my kids are actually ready, and this year in particular, so am I.

This year a part of my personal back to school plans include being a mentor for our U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter’s Green Schools Quest. In particular, I’m going to be working with the green team at Forsyth School. The good news? I didn’t have to purchase any supplies or pass any tests to get involved. The better news? I get to work with a group of students who are truly interested in making their school community a more sustainable place to learn.

The Green Schools Quest was launched on May 1st as a way to challenge public and private schools in Missouri and Southern Illinois to devise and implement no or low cost sustainable practices for their schools. This project-based challenge is kicking off in October and we are hoping to sign up as many schools as possible by September 16th.
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. 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.

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. And, just like the dozens of options available in the Back to School section of the store designed to make this school year easier, the Green Schools Quest has dozens of options designed to make this school year greener.

While the immediate impact of these projects may result in energy or water savings, cleaner air and healthier learning environments; the goal of the Green Schools Quest is to strengthen relationships between schools and the community, create a lasting awareness of the importance of green schools, and catalyze a movement that fosters an attitude among youth and future generations to appreciate and model sustainable practices.

Do you know of a school that might be interested in joining the Quest to improve local learning and teaching environments? The deadline for school applications is September 16. Projects will begin October 2013 and run through mid-March, 2014. 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/. Or contact USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter at (314) 577-0854 or usgbc-mogateway@mobot.org.