Green is the New Black


By Gwen Myslinski

Earth Day started as a grassroots movement on college campuses in 1970. The efforts and values first brought to light by that event 42 years ago has spawned the passing of groundbreaking environmental laws and the formation of countless groups who actively seek out new ways to continue the message. One notable group is Earth Day Network (EDN).

Earth Day Network, with partners in 192 countries, works hard to globalize the Earth Day movement. This year, EDN introduced "A Billion Acts of Green*" — a campaign set forth to reduce carbon emissions by more than one million pounds. Their goal is to register a billion acts of green by individuals or organizations before the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this June.

One program of particular interest to EDN this year is the greening of America's K-12 schools.

Green Schools

According to Earth Day Network, "Green schools save money, conserve energy and water and foster better-performing, healthier students."

Decisions and plans will be created by each school at the district level to determine how to meet the building performance requirements as established by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and how they will adopt new operations and maintenance policies and practices to keep the program sustainable.

Each school progresses differently based on varying factors including the size and condition of each building, district size, budgets, the level of the LEED certification the district desires, etc., according to the Green Existing School Project Management Guide.

Interesting facts related to green schools, according to the Earth Day Network:

  • Green schools save an average of $100,000 annually -- enough to hire two new teachers, buy 250 new computers or purchase 5,000 new books.
  • Test scores and learning ability improves on average 3-5 percent -- equating to an annual earnings increase of $532 per student.
  • Green schools utilize 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than traditional schools.

This Earth Day, Pledge an Act of Green

Looking for a more extreme way to go green in your community? How about working to turn your school into a green building? Eco-friendly schools are popping up all over the country because, according to The Center for Green Schools, "they create healthy environments conducive to learning while saving energy, resources and money."

Start small or go for it all, either way learn more about green schools at or

Pledge your act of green at

Classroom Discussion

  • Do you think being environmentally aware and/or committed is important?
  • Would turning your school into a green school make a difference in students' performance overall?