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Margaret Sledge

Green Schools Challenge

Posted by on 1/5/14 at 05:02pm

This past September, the Central Texas Balcones chapter of the US Green Building Council kicked off its first year of the Green Schools Challenge. The 2013-2014 afterschool program, based on the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools curriculum, engages 4th and 5th graders in green building practices by guiding them through a process of measuring their school campus, designing a project to improve their school, and evaluating the outcome of their project.


In the first few weeks of the Challenge, students get a basic review of topics related to healthy, sustainable, energy efficient schools. They then perform a campus audit to determine how sustainable their school is. The results of the audit suggest a direction to take for the project, and the students choose a “pathway”, or green building topic, to study in greater depth. A second audit specific to the pathway selected by the students serves as the baseline measurement for project development.

hh light meter

Students then develop, implement, and evaluate their project against that original baseline measurement. All of this hard work is accomplished with the assistance of dedicated teacher advisors, and professional “mentors” – members of the USGBC who give a few hours of their time each month to help empower students to be better stewards of their environments.


IMAG0321This fall, seven Lake|Flato employees have been working with the Hawthorne Academy “Green Team” of 4th and 5th grade students to make their school a healthier, more energy efficient space. With the excellent leadership of teacher advisor Bonnye Cavazos, we have been able to introduce the students to multiple green building concepts and tools. So far, the students have shown great enthusiasm and inventiveness when it comes to improving their school, suggesting project ideas as simple as unplugging appliances when not in use, and as complex as designing viewing areas to observe biodiversity on their school grounds. We look forward to working with them over the next few months to develop a project worthy of the title of a NWF Eco-School!

IMAG0324This year, the San Antonio and Austin schools will compete for an award to be announced in mid April. Stay tuned for updates…

  • Corey Leamon

    What a great way to engage kids in thinking about a society of shared resources. I hope they thought it was cool!

  • Judy Geelhoed

    Thank you for all you are doing for kids at Hawthorne!