By. Anisa Heming and Jennifer Seydel
We at the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Green Schools National Network (GSNN) could not be more thrilled to be headed back to Denver with our closest friends for the 2018 Green Schools Conference & Expo. May is a great month to be in the mountains, and we plan to take full advantage of the beautiful setting as well as visits to the exemplary green schools in the area.
As the conference has grown and evolved over the past few years, the gathering has gotten bigger and more polished, but it never moves away from its core purpose: to bring together the people who make up the green schools movement to learn together and connect with one another. This varied group includes those who lead, build, operate, and teach in schools that are striving to live into and model sustainability for their students. By all accounts, the 2017 conference this past March in Atlanta was energizing, enlightening, and inspiring, and we aim to exceed it as we head to Denver.
In the final months before the 2017 event, we re-launched an official conference Steering Committee. This committee was an important component of past conferences that had unfortunately faded among the many moving pieces involved in transitioning conference management from GSNN to USGBC. The members of the current Steering Committee are listed on the Green Schools Conference website. These thought leaders in the green schools movement have been valued advisors on conference content, invited speakers, promotion, and more. Immediately after the 2017 conference, we gathered in a room at the hotel in Atlanta to review the event in detail, as well as capture their experiences and lessons learned for the future. The voices of honest and thoughtful advisors and friends will make the conference better each year, and we are deeply grateful for their insights.
Toward the end of June, we released the Call for Proposals and the Call for Reviewers for the conference. Both are due August 11th. This year, responding to feedback from conference participants and the Steering Committee, we have made a few significant changes to the Call for Proposals that will change the look and feel of the conference:
- Each type of proposal (there are four types) has separate judging criteria to help our reviewers evaluate whether the proposal will be right for the particular format of presentation.
- “Speed Greening” session proposals will now be for 5-minute, single-presenter presentations that will be grouped by the program committee into themes. The facilitator of these sessions will lead a conversation after all 5-minute presentations are over to foster sharing of resources and ideas among participants.
- “How To” sessions have been re-named “Skill Building” workshops, and the format has been lengthened to two hours. The description of this type of session has been revised to attract the hands-on, demonstration-style sessions we are looking for.
- We have added a type of session called an “Expert Panel” that does not require participation by a school or district representative. These sessions will provide an opportunity to learn from experts in industry, government, and research that have valuable information to share with green schools champions.
In addition to the sessions that are chosen through the Call for Proposals, we are working with green schools organizations, most of whom are represented on the Steering Committee, to make sure that we continue to serve the many interest groups, focus groups, training opportunities, and meetings that our larger green schools community hosts. For instance, this past year, the conference hosted GSNN’s board meeting, a policy focus group on Georgia’s Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, as well as in-person focus groups that the New Buildings Institute needed to facilitate for their latest research into net zero energy schools. The conference is at its best when it can be in service to these and other in-person meetings.
Keep an eye out for all the opportunities that will be offered at the 2018 Green Schools Conference & Expo, to be held on May 3rd and 4th in Denver, Colorado. In the meantime, submit your proposal to present at the conference and sign up to help us review submissions. We can’t wait to work with you toward the best conference yet!
Anisa Heming is director of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). She provides strategic direction to USGBC’s work in schools and coordinates an organization-wide team to promote environmental sustainability, health and wellness, and sustainability literacy in school systems around the world. Anisa is a Little Rock, Arkansas native and holds a B.S. in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.Arch from the University of Washington in Seattle.
Jennifer Seydel is the Executive Director of the Green Schools National Network. She has been involved in planning the Green Schools Conference & Expo since its inception. Jenny is also the Editor of the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, the only peer reviewed journal for the K-12 green, healthy, sustainable schools community. She is a Midwesterner at heart, has been an educator for over 40 years, and holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from Antioch New England University.