By. Jesse McElwain, Center for Green Schools at the US Green Building Council


All over the world, communities are coming together to improve local schools by making an impact on the environment, supporting health and wellness, and advancing environmental and sustainability literacy.


We’re only a few weeks away from this year’s Green Apple Day of Service, which unites parents, teachers, students, companies, and local organizations in transforming schools into healthy, safe, and productive learning environments, as well as celebrates green schools champions across the globe. Join or host a service event during back-to-school time this fall and—by September 24th—announce you’re in by signing up at the link below:


Sign up for the Green Apple Day of Service


Getting Involved is Easy

Visit for ideas and resources, and sign up to host an event in your community. Here are some of our favorite tips and ideas to get you started:


  • Reduce Energy Use by Assessing School Lighting: How, when, and where is energy consumed around the school? Are there opportunities to replace old, ineffective lighting with more energy-efficient, better-quality products? Can equipment be turned off or powered down during non-use hours? Check out this video about a recent LED lighting retrofit project at Leckie Elementary School in Washington, D.C., led by Center for Green Schools partner Energy Focus.


  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: What if some of the items we send to the landfill go elsewhere instead? How can we improve school recycling programs to divert as much waste from landfill as possible, and are there ways for schools to reuse nontraditional forms of waste, such as food scraps and textiles?


  • Learning Lab: USGBC’s Learning Lab has fantastic online resources to help K–12 educators and their students easily implement Green Apple projects. More than 300 project-based lessons in English and Spanish are free to access throughout the month of September—just sign up for your account, and enjoy the easy-to-follow, sustainability-infused curriculum on Learning Lab.


  • Food Connections: You can plant a school vegetable garden to help students understand where food comes from, or engage students in preparing fresh meals or snacks that they can enjoy on the spot. Food is a great way to connect with a wide audience and talk about sustainability issues spanning topics such as social justice, economics, agriculture, operations, and health. Remember to track your efforts in increased servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains eaten by students or in decreased grams of sugars served or consumed on campus.


  • Fun with Fitness: Physical activity can come in all forms and at any time of day. Promote student and staff health by providing fun opportunities for active learning. Remember to track your impact through minutes of physical activity for students and staff, especially if you can sustain an increase over a period of time.


We Make a Difference Together

We know that the school environment has a direct impact on students, teachers, and staff.  Unfortunately, many schools today face obstacles to promoting health and wellness in their facilities. According to the recent State of Our Schools: America’s K-12 Facilities report, the U.S. faces a projected annual shortfall of $46 billion in school funding to adequately maintain or build new schools that are healthy and efficient. Green Apple Day of Service is your opportunity to directly address these challenges.


Together, we can transform our schools into healthy, vibrant places to learn, work, and play while teaching valuable lessons about the environment and cultivating the world’s next generation of sustainability leaders.


Take action. Make an impact. Start today at


Jesse McElwain works to amplify the voice of the Center for Green Schools at the US Green Building Council, writing and creating engaging multimedia content. He is particularly focused on getting students – of all ages – interested in sustainability and climate change.