Creating Greener Learning Spaces

school entrance

At this year’s Illinois Healthy & High Performing Schools Symposium, representatives from across industries rallied around the concept of getting each child into a green facility in this generation. On April 8, MEEA joined sustainability professionals from across the State to address how we can continue greening our schools in order to create healthy and high performing environment for students. Held at Chicago Public School’s Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, the event was sponsored by the USGBC- Illinois Chapter and the Association of Learning Environments.

Conversations ranged from sustainable restroom Katie Krasnerdesign to commercial composting, with a number of presentations highlighting how real schools throughout Illinois are using their campuses to teach students about energy efficiency and sustainability. As The Center for Green Schools’ Rachel Gutter remarked, “What if a classroom could help teach rather than act as a container for learning?” This concept resonated strongly with the teachers, administrators and staff in attendance, who share a passion for creating better learning environments.  It also reflected the spirit of the Department of Energy’s three pillar framework  for Green Ribbon Schools (outlined below).

Three Green School Pillars:

  1. Reduce environmental impact and costs
  2. Improve the health and wellness of schools, students and staff
  3. Provide environmental education (incorporating STEM, civic skills and green career pathways)

MEEA staff Rose Jordan and Catie Krasner led a session walking Illinois school representatives through Pillar 1 and the concept of building a sustainability roadmap. The presentation included advice, guidelines and resources available for energy benchmarking and auditing as well as free EPA tools available to measure other sustainability metrics (e.g., water, waste, etc.).