From the Executive Directo r: Moving Toward Net-Zero, One Step at a Time

About a month ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report that is pretty blunt in its assessment that we have very little time left to take action to reverse the course of climate change before irreparable damage takes hold. Climate change is here and happening - yet, we also have the tools at our disposal to turn the tide. It will take all of us doing our part, and schools and school districts are on the front lines in taking AND inspiring action.
At Green Schools National Network, we talk a lot about thinking global and acting local to make change happen. Schools and school districts are embracing this wholeheartedly in their adoption of sustainability practices, policies, and programs. A common entry point for many is either the adoption of a recycling program or implementation of energy conservation measures. These are great ways to start and often lead to other, more comprehensive schoolwide (or districtwide) efforts. However, some schools and districts are aiming even higher - to achieve net-zero buildings and grounds. An ambitious goal, yes, but schools and school districts across the U.S. are adopting practices to make this goal a reality.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, net-zero means consuming only as much energy as is produced, achieving a sustainable balance between water availability and demand, and eliminating solid waste sent to landfills. We devoted an entire issue of the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly this past spring to net-zero. This issue of GreenNotes continues our conversation on this timely topic. You will learn about some of the strategies that two school districts, San Francisco Unified School District and Red Wing Public Schools, are using to become 100% clean energy districts. You will hear how nonprofit Strategic Energy Innovations is working with two elementary school green teams to reach zero waste, while Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners shares three actions you can take to reduce cafeteria waste. Finally, you will learn about Whitefish School District's new Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship, the first net-zero facility in Montana, and how its programming is helping to develop sustainability mindsets in students and adults alike.
Net-zero is not something that happens overnight. It takes time, patience, and commitment. The same can be said for reversing the effects of climate change. BOTH are entirely possible, and it all begins with one small step.
Feature Articles
Moving Toward Zero Waste at Anthony G. Bacich and Montalvin Manor Elementary Schools

Casey Fritz, Associate Project Coordinator for Strategic Energy Innovations, shares how her organization is engaging two elementary school green teams in their efforts to reach zero waste, each school representing a different stage of the zero waste journey.
100% Clean Energy School Districts: A Growing Movement

Katie Mamen and Lisa Hoyos of Sierra Club's Climate Parents program discuss how two very different school districts are taking action to achieve 100% clean energy, from installing solar power to passing policy and implementing sweeping clean energy initiatives.
Whitefish School District Strives for Net-Zero through Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship

Ryder Delaloye, Curriculum Director for Whitefish School District, shares how the district's new net-zero facility, the first in the state of Montana, is providing meaningful learning experiences for students and adults alike while encouraging the development of sustainability mindsets. 
The Three Pillars of Success for Achieving Net-Zero in the Cafeteria

Greg Christian and Marnie Record with Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners describe the three steps school cafeterias can take to implement a successful zero waste program: measure waste, make delicious food, and connect waste reduction in the cafeteria to meaningful learning experiences in classrooms. 
What Cool Schools Can Do

Reprinted with permission from Teaching Teens about Climate Change, Green Teacher, 2017, 80pp. and originally authored by Tom Yohemas.
GSNN Educator's Toolbox: Professional Development, Resources, Grants, and Awards for November

The latest professional development opportunities, resources, grants, and awards for November.  
In Other News...
Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly

Everyone has a role to play in creating sustainable, healthy, and resilient communities, including schools. The Fall 2018 Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly explores how schools are responding to this charge, from working with their communities to implement climate action plans and bounce back from natural disasters to inspiring students to solve local challenges. Resiliency is cultivated within schools too, and this issue will introduce you to schools that are creating resilient students through trauma-informed education and mindfulness practices. 

Carry the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly wherever you go! Get  the app from  iTunesGoogle Play, or Amazon  today.  


Green Schools National Network's blog shares timely stories and news from Catalyst Network Schools and School Districts, Network sponsors and partners, and others involved in advocating for green, healthy, and sustainable schools. Check out some of our most recent blog posts below!

Experiencing the Generative Power of Networks at the 2018 Green Schools Catalyst Leaders Fall Summit
Write for GreenNotes
Green Schools National Network's newsletter, GreenNotes, focuses on one overarching topic each month. We will consider articles for the month that best matches the topic. Have a question about an upcoming theme? Contact .
We are looking for a variety of articles for GreenNotes, including:
  • Case studies of schools and school districts doing exemplary work in environmental and sustainability initiatives.
  • Profiles of leaders and advocates in the green schools movement.
  • News and current events of interest to the green schools movement.
Themes for the next three issues include:

Green Schools and the Community - January 2019
Submission deadline: January 4, 2019

Schools are widely recognized as centers of their communities, places where people gather to learn, celebrate, and take shelter in times of crisis. More and more, schools are adopting the mantle of climate resiliency, preparing students for the social, environmental, and economic challenges of the 21st century. In this issue of GreenNotes, you will meet some of the schools and school districts that are on the leading edge of this movement, and learn how their leadership and curriculum are having an impact on their communities.

Leadership in Green Schools - February 2019
Submission deadline: February 1, 2019

School leaders face many demands, from tight budgets and meeting standards to providing learning environments that are equitable and encourage academic achievement. Green school leaders are tackling these demands using a sustainability mindset; a clear, inspiring vision; and a desire to engage with the world beyond the classroom walls. In this issue of GreenNotes, you will meet some of the leaders who are creating vibrant school cultures that equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century workforce and as citizens in a global community.

The Arts and Sustainability Literacy - April 2019
Submission deadline: April 5, 2019

Visual and performing arts have played an important role in cultural and creative expression for thousands of years. In today's K-12 schools, the arts build school culture and student character by emphasizing authentic performance, craftsmanship, risk-taking, creativity, and a quest for beauty and meaning. Sustainable art and "green art classrooms" go beyond procuring environmentally-friendly art supplies to embracing the arts as a way to advocate for environmental and social equity. This issue of GreenNotes explores how schools and school districts are using the arts to teach students to be better stewards of the environment and their communities.
Work with Green Schools National Network
Green Schools National Network's professional development and coaching services are designed to help schools and school districts adopt sustainability practices that align with their strategic goals. Our work is guided by the GreenPrintâ„¢ for Green, Healthy, and Sustainable Schools and its five core principles: curriculum, stewardship, facilities and operations, health and well-being, and leadership. Along with our professional development collaborative partners, we are positioned to help schools and school districts adopt a culture of sustainability that permeates every aspect of education: planning, policy development, program implementation, finances, curricula, teaching, learning, assessment, and administration.

So...what can Green Schools National Network do for you? David DenHartog, GSNN Director of Innovative Learning, provides an update on his work with Whitewater Middle School. David visited Whitewater several weeks ago and is excited to see the progress this school is making in integrating sustainability into its daily operations.

Converting a traditional, 700-student Title-I Middle School into a model Magnet is no easy task, but the staff at Whitewater Middle School is up to the challenge. This school, one of 170 within the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School District, is in the first year of transitioning to become an "E-STEM" (Environmental Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) school. GSNN teamed with Whitewater and Bruns Elementary School (the district's other new E-STEM school) to help facilitate this transition. With strong leadership and a committed staff, Whitewater Middle School has exceeded academic growth the past four years in a row. This momentum has helped spur charge to bring sustainability practices deeper into their zeitgest.

One aspect of sustainability that Whitewater is currently focused on revolves around intentionally supporting social and emotional learning. Through listening to their students and analyzing data, the Whitewater team is becoming more strategic in their approach, ultimately growing skills and effecting dispositions. Also, the team is rallying around reducing waste. With a newly formed green team, a variety of efforts are underway that bring a new level of attention to a chronic issue. Whitewater has also been gifted a Verizon Innovation Lab (one of two in the country!) that provides amazing opportunities related to green engineering. With the E-STEM lens framing their development, Whitewater Middle School is on track to showcase how to transition into a school for sustainability.

Ready to get started?

Contact for more information on the range of professional services that Green Schools National Network has to offer schools and school districts.

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