Steph Leonard
2 minute read

USGBC communities in the region are launching a new learning program for students and schools.

A five-year effort between the School of Environmental Studies (SES) and USGBC Minnesota has led to the development and benchmarking of sustainability strategy at SES, and has incorporated the hard work of more than 40 students in achieving SES's recent LEED Gold certification under LEED v4.1 for Operations and Maintenance (O+M).

The project has given a voice to students, inspiring advocacy and action and serving as a catalyst for SES's sustainability efforts—and serving as an inspiration for USGBC.

A new mentoring program

In the West North Central region of USGBC local communities, we are launching the Green Students Mentoring Program, based on many of the lessons learned while working with SES. The program will help more students green their learning spaces and will feature curriculum written using SES and other schools across the U.S. as examples.

The USGBC West North Central (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Central Plains, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota) aims to use the Green Students Mentoring Program (GSMP) to create lasting relationships; make use of practical tools and technology; and engage schools, students and community members in ongoing sustainability efforts to produce greener, healthier schools and expose students to environmental education and green careers.

Schools and student-based organizations will be matched with mentors who are industry experts. These mentors will provide relevant tools, technologies and workshops and will guide the schools through processes for setting attainable, low- to no-cost sustainability goals based on operations and maintenance principles.

Real-world lessons

GSMP will use the education program Building Learners, created by USGBC's Learning Lab. Building Learners guides an educator, a team of school facilities personnel and volunteer green building professionals to engage students in classroom learning and real-world energy, water, waste, transportation and environmental health investigations of their school.

By using the building as a laboratory for STEM learning, students are empowered to propose data-driven solutions for healthier, more efficient school environments.

Schools will work with their mentors and other industry experts to create a whole-school sustainability plan with attainable goals. Students will complete green projects that accelerate their progress toward those goals in whole-school sustainability and environmental education. When applicable, schools and organizations will be challenged to achieve LEED v4.1 O+M certification.

How to participate

Interested in taking part in the Green Schools Mentoring Program?

If you have a school or organization you would recommend for the program, or you have more questions about the program, please contact project manager Steph Leonard.