Over the course of six weeks, we will share with you a whole year’s worth of ideas for your school’s Green Team! Check back every week, and download a PDF of the entire 12-month plan at the end of the series!
If your school district has adopted sustainability and energy efficiency as one of its core values, you have probably started a Green Team. Perhaps there is just one team to represent the entire district – or, maybe you have a team at each school.
No matter what your team look like, one of the most common questions we are asked is “What should my Green Team be doing?” This is a common problem among school districts – they form a Green Team to oversee and coordinate sustainability efforts and at first, things are going great! But after a while, the ideas don’t come so easily, team members get engaged with other activities, and the committee starts to break down. Or, maybe team members are still diligently showing up for each meeting but you (or they) feel discouraged about how to best focus their interest and efforts. Summer poses a challenge because many school staff are off, so efforts tend to fall to the wayside.
Let us help solve these problems with this School Green Team plan!
One good place to begin is by creating an annual calendar. Give each month a single theme or event to give your meetings focus, and your Team a purpose. For a list of possible focus areas, click here to see a calendar of energy-related holidays.
Next, be sure that each member of the Green Team is assigned specific tasks and deadlines by which to complete those tasks. Examples might include:
- Developing a reward and recognition program for buildings, teams, staff or students that demonstrate outstanding energy efficiency efforts
- Reviewing and customizing energy-related employee or student communications – including emails, newsletters, posters, stickers or electronic signage
- Reviewing IT technologies and exploring what IT-related energy strategies your school district should consider
- Authoring articles for posting on the school blog or website, or for putting in school newsletters.
Another approach is to split your Green Team up into subcommittees. Consider these four categories as focus areas for your team.
- Event planning and Recognition
- Measurement and Verification (M&V)
- Operations and Facilities
Be sure to keep your group meeting regularly, especially as you establish these new roles. Make time at each meeting for team members to “report out” to the rest of the group about their ideas and initiatives.
January: Create a communications calendar
Communications are a core part of any good sustainability plan. As the Green Team, it is your job to ensure that the people in your school district – and in your community – are informed, educated and aware of your energy conservation efforts, goals and achievements. Consider the following:
- What types of communications will you send this year?
o Newsletters, email blasts, student newspaper, community press releases, internal communications, quick tips via pay stubs, the intranet, Twitter, etc.
o Who will write them?
o Who will send them/how will they be distributed?
- Choose a start date – when will the first communication go out?
- Set the dates for each communication to go out through the end of the calendar year
- Brainstorm topics, tips or ideas. Be sure to have one idea per date you have put on the calendar. So, if you are doing monthly newsletters – be sure to have 12 topics.
- Don’t forget about sharing your results! We recommend providing progress updates at least quarterly.
- Be sure you are communicating with staff, students and the community!
February: Start a recycling program
If you don’t already have a recycling program in your school district – start one! Begin by touching base with your building operations or health and safety department. These folks may already have some ideas! Many communities and trash haulers offer resources to help you get started. Begin by finding out whether or not recycling is picked up by your waste management service. If it is, ask if your pick up is single sort or multiple sort. You might be surprised to find out that it doesn’t cost more to recycle, since you end up reducing the volume of trash that goes into the garbage. If recycling isn’t picked up by your hauler, set up an in-house recycling program by asking for a volunteer each week to empty recycling bins and properly dispose of the waste. A staff member and/or student group could be in charge of this at each building! Some communities have recycling centers that will pay you for your aluminum or glass – perhaps this small monetary reward could be kept by the group or school building each week!
Already have a recycling program? Use this month to raise awareness about it and be sure everyone in your district is recycling. Or – take it a step further and start composting or recycling organic materials. Many of the schools we work with have partnerships with local farmers, where their food waste is repurposed as animal feed. Some trash haulers will have compost bins and will even pick up your organic waste for you!
Check back next week to find out what your school’s Green Team can focus on for March and April!