Tag Archives: schools

The Green Teen Movement

green teens

Many studies show that by teaching kids about conservationism and sustainability at an early age we create much more environmentally aware and responsible adults.  When Judy Shils included her young daughter, Erin Schrode, in her environmental protection efforts as part of their daily lives living in Northern California, she proved these studies correct.  Erin grew up with positive environmental stewardship as a well-worked family value, so it is no wonder that she grew up to develop the organization called “Teens Turning Green:  A Way of Life,” a collaborative youth-led movement to change the world.

Originally called Teens for Safe Cosmetics, Erin launched the campaign in 2005 in an effort to ban toxic substances such as lead, mercury and other harmful chemicals from cosmetics.  Erin and her mom, soon to be joined by other teens from local middle and high schools, identified common cosmetics used by teens, and then went to work with scientists and chemists to develop safe, green alternatives to the toxic make-up currently on the market.  It wasn’t long before Erin and her team travelled to Sacramento to testify before the legislature and ban poisonous ingredients in cosmetics.  Their mission was successful and with a desire to widen their sphere of influence into other areas of environmentalism, sustainability, and protection of the earth and its resources, Teens Turning Green was born.

They soon moved into the educational field, launching a school awareness program called Project Green Dorm on such things as food service, janitorial supplies, landscaping and classroom products.  They held a public rally in San Francisco during prom season to highlight the ease, functionality, and availability of eco beauty, fashion, décor and transportation options, and named their efforts Project Green Prom.   They also launched Project Lunch, a movement to make quality food affordable and available to everyone.

green dorm

Today, Teens Turning Green makes and distributes their own line of skin and body care products through trusted companies, and founded the first Project Green Challenge in October 2011, that challenged students and schools across the world to participate in eco-awareness and conservation efforts across the board.

Teens Turning Green started from one small spark that became a catalyst for positive change in the world, and Erin and her group promise to keep forging ahead, inspiring young people to know, care, act, dream and do.

For more information on Teens Turning Green, click here.

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Save 1,000,000 Trees!

In one year, an acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven up to 8700 miles (www.treesaregood.com).

One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people (www.ncsu.edu).

The shade and wind buffering provided by trees reduces annual heating and cooling costs by 2.1 billion dollars (www.savatree.com).

These are just a few of the many reasons why trees are important for our health and the health of our planet.

The non-profit Save A Million Trees was founded in 2010 with a mission to not only reduce deforestation and rebuild our tree population, but to reduce the enormous waste of all of our natural resources.

For example, one part of the organization’s crusade is to rid America of junk mail. The organization’s website says that 44 percent of junk mail ends up in landfills – most of which isn’t even opened.  That is a scary number, as is the estimated 41 pounds of junk mail that is generated per person each year.

Save A Million Trees has set a goal to help 300,000 people stop their 41 pounds of junk mail – the equivalent of saving one million trees.  For anyone who has ever almost drowned in a sea of unsolicited flyers, requests and special offers, this movement probably seems like a win-win situation – especially when you consider the estimated 70 hours of time you’d save each year by eliminating the task of sorting and trashing junk mail.

Another Save A Million Trees initiatives involves giving preschools and elementary schools classroom recycling bins  as part of their Kids Go Green Campaign. According to the organization, one properly and well-used recycling bin in one classroom saves 27 trees in one school year.

To learn more about Save A Million trees and the non-profits many initiatives, visit save1000000trees.org.

Save a tree

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Green Apple Day of Service

September 29, 2012 is the date for the first ever Green Apple Day of Service, an event hosted and promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools.

On that day, advocates from all over the globe will join together to show support for a healthier and more sustainable world by performing various environmental service projects.  Even though the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is based in the United States, it recognizes that environmental issues are of global concern which is why the organization has reached out to conservation and sustainable-living movements for involvement on a multi-national scale.

Green Apple Logo

On mygreenapple.org, participants can search for service projects by country, city and even by the type of project they would like to be involved in. The site lists a number of different target areas relating to sustainability and environmental protection – featuring titles like “Waste Not,” “Take it Outside,” and “Educate” – making it easy for people to find service projects that best suit their interests and areas of expertise. There is even an RSVP option that allows participants to make a commitment to attend an event in advance.

One of the most exciting things about this project is the fact that it involves organizations from all over the world.  A large number of international organizations have already joined the USGBC in support of the Green Apple Day of Service and are hosting events in their own communities to help tackle important environmental issues.These are issues that affect us all and being able to join together from across the globe makes a powerful statement.

To date, the Green Apple Day of Service has already added more than 270 service projects worldwide. Join one by clicking here. Green Apple Day Map

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Filed under Education, Recycling, Sustainability, Uncategorized

The Bus Stops Here!

With the back to school season creeping up on us, it’s time to start preparing to head back to the classroom. Metrocenter Mall and the Washington Elementary School District, both located in Phoenix, AZ, are helping elementary students do just that with The Bus Stops Here, an annual back to school drive.

To kick off the drive, the Metrocenter Mall made an initial donation of 150 backpacks and the Phoenix New Times made an additional donation of 100 backpacks. However, 250 backpacks aren’t nearly enough to make a dent in the needs of the students! Pencils, pens, notebooks, binders – so much more is needed to equip students to start the year off right!

Students without access to necessary school supplies, such as a working calculator, plenty of paper, or crayons or colored pencils, can become frustrated with learning and have a difficult time in class. Providing much needed material to students lets them focus on what is really important: learning.

From Friday, July 27 through Friday, August 10 the Metrocenter Mall will be collecting backpacks and school supplies to help Washington Elementary School District outfit students for the new school year.

To kick off the Back to School Drive, the first 200 guests who donate a backpack and school supplies will receive a $20 American Express gift card from the Metrocenter Mall. The public can buy discounted backpacks to donate at the Tinkerbell, Robert Wayne and Sears stores in the Metrocenter Mall. All donations should be dropped off at Guest Services.

For more information, take a look at the flyer below.

metrocenter mall

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The Resurgence of Forgotten Technology in the Classroom

Droids, iPhones, iPods, Chrome Books, Kindles, iPads – technology is pervasive in our world and it isn’t just for adults and teens. Today, children are born with access to instant information with a plethora of gadgets.

To keep up with trends and engage all students in the classroom, many schools are realizing the importance and necessity of advanced technology.

Traditional classroom devices, such as projectors and computers, continue to play an important role in students’ learning as technologies advance.  Some often-overlooked areas are now becoming the focus of attention.


Classroom audio plays a crucial role in education. Hearing what teachers say forms the core of the student learning experience. The nuances of language must be clear. To that end, all-in-one products, like Lightspeed’s exciter technology, redefine classroom audio and amplification. They go beyond audibility (hearing) and create better intelligibility (understanding). Learn more about Lightspeed here.

Modern “Chalk” Boards

Using interactive whiteboard systems was a popular choice in the past. Their use is now making a resurgence because these systems are effective in many ways. Visually the pictures and video help the lessons come alive for students from all grade levels, preschool to college. Statistics show that whiteboards help educators achieve better results. Watch learning become fun with SMART Technologies interactive board and preschoolers from California’s Pomona Unified School District:

Immediate Response Systems

In the past, teachers used to give tests and quizzes to check if students grasped the knowledge and concepts being taught. Research shows that immediate feedback is a significantly better way to gauge how well students are absorbing lesson plans. Now teachers have the ability to instantly assess student learning through formative and summative assessments – increasing student engagement and participation and improving learning outcomes.SMART Response

One of the most successful techniques used in the classroom are the SMART Response systems which available in five unique models to suit a variety of learning environments, such as 1:1, K–12, early education, special needs and advanced math and science. For example, the SMART Response™ LE interactive response system is ideal for early education students and learners with special needs. With this, students at all reading levels use simple, colorful handheld remotes (or clickers) to answer questions, receive instant feedback from their teachers and stay engaged in lessons.

Learn more about all five SMART Interactive Response Systems here.

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Textbooks: Print or Digital?

Many people remember lugging heavy textbooks back and forth to school, requiring industrial strength backpacks or, in some cases, rolling suitcases usually reserved for the executive on the go.  There has even been public concern and discussion about the weight of backpacks filled with textbooks and the effect it’s having on school kids’ spines and posture.

Now along comes the new digital reader, able to download enough textbooks and reading assignments to last a middle school student until graduation and weighing no more than the actual unit itself.  For many, this is the next logical step in the evolution of education – trading in traditional textbooks and giving students access to virtually limitless learning material on e-Readers.

Others, however, have suggested possible downsides to this shift, like the impact it will have on our environment.

replace books with ereaders

At first glance, using digital readers instead of textbooks and saving trees from the paper mill sounds like a great idea, but there are environmental impacts associated with new the technology as well.

A 2010 article by Chris Meadows on teleread.com brings up some interesting talking points from studies on the environmental impact of both types of books.

The estimated carbon “footprint” from digital readers is less than that of textbooks when considering the carbon dioxide released in the production and distribution of printed materials. However, electronic materials can be seen as toxic in terms of manufacturing and disposal.

These toxic electrical components are filling up our landfills at an alarming rate, depositing hazardous chemicals like mercury, lead, cadmium and even arsenic into the soil.

The question of whether going digital is the best answer in terms of the environment is one that requires further analysis. To do your homework on this increasingly relevant topic, check out these websites:




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Does Your Child’s School use “Green” Cleaning Products?

Not that long ago there seemed to be scant attention paid to the issue of children’s exposure to chemicals and toxins while at school.  Desks and chairs were cleaned with industrial-strength cleaners, and floors were mopped with detergent strong enough to wash away the grime and grease caused by hundreds of young feet tromping through the halls five days a week – standards and guidelines concerning the safety of the cleaning products used around children were based on the findings of studies available at the time.

We now know more about the impact that chemicals and solvents can have on the environment and on the people who come in contact with that environment.  This growing awareness has spurred a move toward making schools greener and safer for our kids.

Today there are more options available of safe cleaning products and chemicals that can be used in schools, and there are more schools that are using them.  However, an increase in severe allergic reactions by children at school to chemical and environmental toxins has pushed parents to ask hard questions about the eco-friendly standards and practices in place at our Nation’s schools.

In response to those questions, the EPA has listed resources and links in a variety of environmental health and safety topics on their website. For instance, a question regarding the cleaners and pesticides used in schools offers these links:

Pesticides in schools

Chemical Management Resource Guide for School Administrators

Safer Cleaning Products for Schools

Clicking on the links will take you directly to answers on the respective topics.  The “Safer Cleaning Products for Schools” link directs you to choose a category of cleaner, as in carpet cleaning or sink and restroom cleaning, and then gives you a drop-down choice of the companies they contract with to supply those specific products.  If you’re a parent, this access to information is incredibly valuable when investigating the environmental safety of your child’s school.

There is no doubt that more work needs to be done with regard to green practices in our Nation’s schools. The safety and health of our children while at school needs to be top priority.


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Extron Grants Provide Classroom AV Systems

A growing number of schools nationwide are adopting innovative technology solutions focused on helping students grasp concepts quicker and with more clarity.

These solutions include netbooks, iPads, sound systems, whiteboards, projectors, and more. Using technological tools can help engage students in lesson plans and is one of the main ways to improve student learning. Studies also show that the use of audio-visual technology in the classroom increases student interest, participation and achievement.

Extron Grant

Green Schoolhouse Series Partner Extron, an expert in audio-visual equipment, designs systems specifically for classrooms and they are starting an aggressive Classroom Technology Grant Program which shows its commitment to enhancing the K-12 learning environment. The program provides increased visibility and expanded access for AV technology by supplying selected pilot classrooms with advanced audio video solutions at no cost to the district. Each grant award includes installation of Extron classroom system technology, along with complete training.

To date, Extron has granted more than $6 million worth of equipment to over 1,000 classrooms in U.S. school districts. If you are a school employee who would like to apply for the Extron Grant, just use the online form here.

To learn more about the program, visit the company’s website.

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“Reduce Your Use” Program Reminds Us to Conserve

Energy companies are finding creative ways to save energy, especially when needed. “Reduce Your Use” was started by San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) as an answer to high-use energy days that caused shortage problems around the county. The program’s participation is optional, but SDG&E gives cash rebates to residential customers that play along.

The rules are simple: SDG&E customers who reduce their energy use from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Reduce Your Use days will see a credit of $0.75 per reduced kilowatt hour on their next energy bill.

SDG&E Customers are encouraged to set up email or text alerts by visiting sdge.com/reduceuse so that they can be notified the day before a “Reduce Your Use” day occurs. This will enable customers to plan ahead and take steps to save the most energy and maximize their reward. Watch this video to learn more about “Reduce Your Use” days.

Common ways to save energy on high-use days:

  1. Raise the air conditioning thermostat five degrees higher than normal
  2. Unplug unused electronics
  3. Use appliances in the evening or early morning

Additional ways to save energy can be found by taking the interactive Energy Tour.

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QUIZ: Water Conservation 101 Answers Revealed!

Sustainable Water SupplyThe following quiz is from a recent article in Environmental Design + Construction (ED+C) Magazine on water conservation and the elements of facility design. The answers to the quiz are highlighted in green. Check out our Facebook and Twitter pages to see who landed the title of “Green Building Guru” for scoring the highest! If you’d like to take this quiz to obtain Continuing Education Units (CEU), click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for instructions!


1.       One of the most regular and predictable of all indoor water uses accounts for about 33 percent of total building water consumption. What is it?

a.       Coffee machines.

b.      Toilet flushing.

c.       Janitorial maintenance.

d.      Restroom faucets.

2.       Which of the following is NOT used to treat storm water or greywater for reuse within a facility?

a.       Aerobic pretreatment.

b.      Reverse osmosis.

c.       Rain sensors.

d.      Settling.

3.       True or false: Aside from leaks, the three ways that water is eliminated from cooling towers include evaporation, drift and blowdown. The total of these effects equals the cooling towers total makeup water needed.

a.       True.

b.      False.

4.       To improve the water efficiency of heating and hot water systems by as much as 70 percent, a retrofit or new construction project can include:

a.       A single-pass cooling system.

b.      Blowdown processes.

c.       Drift elimination.

d.      Condensate return system.

5.       A novel restroom fixture technology seen recently in Europe allows users to determine the level of water flow, from ultra-low flow to higher flow levels, based on a mechanical feature. This fixtures work based on…

a.       Resistance to force applied to the handle.

b.      Use of aerators to change the water flow appearance.

c.       A range of setting indicators corresponding to specific water needs.

d.      None of the above.

6.       Predevelopment site hydrology includes awareness of both site conditions as well as regional conditions of a natural site before construction-related land disturbance. Which of the following is NOT considered on the assessment of predevelopment hydrology?

a.       Runoff.

b.      Irrigation needs.

c.       Infiltration.

d.      Evapotranspiration rates.

7.       True or false: By definition, xeriscaping plantings are (1) appropriate to the local climate, (2) require minimum watering, and (3) contribute to landscaping that minimizes evaporation and runoff.

a.       True.

b.      False.

8.       Which of the following statements accurately describes the features or use of rain sensors?

a.       They can be hardwired or wireless.

b.      Some contain hygroscopic disks to activate switches.

c.       They can be combined with freeze sensors.

d.      All of the above.

9.       For site installations where irrigation systems are used, assessments of potential water-use reduction goals may be undertaken with a basic punch list or audit, which provides for:

a.       Pre-selection of low-flow restroom fixtures.

b.      Full commissioning of irrigation systems.

c.       Review of site inspection, performance testing and irrigation scheduling.

d.      None of the above.

10.   True or false: Two fixtures with the same rated efficiencies will save the same amount of water, regardless of use conditions or end-user behaviors.

a.       True.

b.      False.

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