What is a green school?
15 minutes

Kindergarten / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12
Career and Technical Education (CTE), Environmental Education, Professional Learning

This lesson page provides free resources for you, the teacher, to advance your own knowledge of sustainability and green building, and support your teaching.

This page is a great starting point for new sustainability teachers or a resource for experienced teachers. It will provide you with some background information to help you understand the impact of green schools and prepare you to start to take actions at your own school.

All the materials are available for free download in the “Prepare” tab below. For additional information about each resource, check out the “Teach” tab.

We’ve broken them down by:
- Green Schools Profiles and Case Studies
- Reports and Guides
- LEED Resources
- Pedagogy
- Videos

And check out additional resources in the Extend tab to expand your school's sustainability initiatives. We've called out reports to share with your legislators to drive green school initiatives as well as training to share with your facility staff.

The materials in this lesson are designed to support teachers, not implement as instruction in your classroom. But feel free to share materials with your students, colleagues, or community!

When you are ready, dive into the Learning Lab lessons. Looking for a place to start? Check out Every School Can Be A Green School: Getting Started Checklists. Or search the catalog by grade level, subject and theme.

60 minutes

6 / 7 / 8

Students classify forms of energy as potential or kinetic and explore the law of conservation of energy.

Students begin this unit of study by brainstorming and analyzing the many ways humans use energy. In small groups, they review some basic energy science by using energy cards to classify different forms of energy (such as light, sound, and nuclear) as potential or kinetic.

How can our school be green?
30 minutes

Kindergarten / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12
Environmental Education

Green school (n): a school building or facility that creates a healthy environment that is conducive to learning while saving energy, resources and money.

Whether you are a parent, teacher, school staff member, student, or community volunteer, you want your school to provide a healthy, welcoming place to learn. The important effort of running greener schools needs action from everyone in the school community, and sometimes the scale of the task can make it hard to know where the start. Follow these 12 simple priority actions from the Center for Green Schools to help make your school healthy, efficient, comfortable and environmentally responsible.

This lesson provides resources and suggestions of actions to make your school a green school. Included Action Checklists:

1: Find your superstars
2: Ready, set – wait, which bin do I put this in?
3: What’s a watt?
4: Go behind the scenes
5: Put the kids in charge
6: Hey, what’s this thing do?
7: You are what you eat…and recycle, throw away and compost…
8: Let the Sun Shine In
9: You know it’s dust, but what IS it?
10: No really, what is that smell?
11: Lights out!
12: Carpooling – jump in, the water’s fine!

Checklists include:
- First steps to getting started
- Resources to support your actions
- Related lessons in Learning Lab to dive deeper into topics

180 minutes

6 / 7 / 8
Reading or Language Arts

Students use their school and/or community as the context for learning about the Commons. They explore what defines a Commons, categorize spaces and things as examples, and walk their community to discover its visible and hidden Commons. Finally, students select one Commons to focus on, and create a “State of the Commons” report as a way of increasing school and/or community awareness about the Commons.

100 minutes

5 / 6 / 7 / 8

In this lesson, students explore the ways in which humans use hydropower to fuel society. First, they learn how we harness hydropower to generate electricity, and then they build a hydropaddle to simulate a turbine. Next, they examine the pros and cons of hydropower by choosing an issue, conducting an investigative analysis to discover a story of real-life impact, and sharing that story with the class. Students also reflect upon why facts alone are often not enough to communicate the importance of sustainability issues; asking questions and doing research can often lead to surprising changes in perspective and new understandings.

What can a carbon footprint tell me about the impact my actions have on the environment?
150 minutes

6 / 7 / 8

In this lesson, students learn about alternatives to fossil-fuel energy resources. They take on a challenge from the community’s “mayor” to serve on an Energy Task Force and research whether the most common alternative energy resources are appropriate for their community. Working in groups, they research five alternative energy sources and present their findings to the mayor. Then the groups evaluate the experience and the implications that each of these technologies has for both their local community and the larger global community.

50 minutes

7 / 8
Civics and Government

In this lesson, students consider the various ways we illuminate our world. They conduct a scientific experiment to determine how much thermal energy various types of lightbulbs emit and consider the pros and cons of each light source. When they see that some types of bulbs are far more energy efficient than others, they consider the environmental implications of those more efficient options—hazardous waste. As students review the cost, energy use, lifespan, and disposal requirements of different kinds of bulbs, they learn that making thoughtful, considered choices about the products we use is an important aspect of sustainable intelligence.