Friday, September 21, 2012

GSA Programs Provide Tools to Students to Save Their Future

Driven by the concepts that individuals can make a difference and that schools can change the world, GSA has provided frameworks and ongoing support through its interactive website and social media sites. These help schools and school districts drive their sustainability initiatives forward. As one person put it, “Your movement is helping not only to change the culture of our schools for the better but the culture of the Department of Education.”

GSA is actively collaborating with State Departments of Education across the U.S. and has found a steadfast partner in John Shea, chief executive officer, Division of School Facilities, NYC Department of Education.

Shea said, “The Green Schools Alliance is an extraordinarily important part of our sustainability efforts here. As the largest school system in the U.S., with more than 1,200 buildings, my office had an overwhelming task in its effort to raise awareness about the importance of energy conservation, greenhouse gas reduction and operating buildings efficiently. Joining GSA was a strong first step in these efforts. Being a GSA member gave us great credibility among principals, administrators, facilities staff and, particularly, students, and made everyone feel they were part of a larger community. By benchmarking energy usage in all of our schools, we now have the data we need to engage each school community, as well as parents, elected officials and the City at large. GSA provides all our member schools with resources to help them reach their energy conservation goals and to help us all learn and grow.”

To be sure, no individual school or subset of schools can solve 21st Century environmental and climate challenges alone. GSA programs demonstrate the power of collaboration and collective action. The potential of a youth-led, inter-generational green schools movement to change the world for the better must be tapped. Young people know about climate change, pollution and habitat loss, and they want to save their future. Given the “unprecedented emergency” leading scientists say the world is facing, students must have all available tools at their disposal to help them do so.

Source: Sustainable Solutions Green Schools: A 21st Century Imperative : Center for a Better Life

Emily Alix Fano is a consultant with the Green Schools Alliance. She has a Master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy from Tufts University and writes on green schools, biotechnology and the environment for national and international forums. A passionate environmentalist devoted to the goal of zero-waste schools, Fano is an active member of the District 3 Green Schools Group – a coalition of parents creating model green programs in New York City public schools. She has been recognized as a Changemaker by Planet Green. E: efano@greenschoolsalliance.org

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