What is a Green School?


A Green School is a school that creates a healthy environment conducive to learning, while saving energy, environmental resources, and money.


A green school
1. reduces environmental impacts and costs
2. improves occupants’ health and performance
3. increases environmental and sustainability literacy.

Visit the Center for Green Schools to learn more.


Characteristics of a Green School

Green, healthy and high-performance schools provide many benefits for students, teachers, parents and the community, including:

Protect Health
Asthma is the primary cause of poor school attendance, and schools with poor indoor air quality usually have numerous asthma precursors. Schools built with more daylighting, better ventilation, and healthy green building materials such as non-VOC carpets and paints are healthier for students, teachers, and other school employees, and result in fewer sick days.

Increase Student Performance
A lack of fresh air can reduce student attentiveness. Studies have shown that student test scores can improve up to 20% when kids learn in green classrooms that have more daylighting, improved classroom acoustics, and healthier paints and carpets that don’t release toxic chemicals into the air.

Save Energy, Save Money
Operating costs for energy and water in a green school can be reduced by 20% to 40%, directing more funding towards teacher salaries, textbooks, and computers.

Reduce Carbon Emissions
Green schools significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Building 34 new green schools in Los Angeles alone would reduce 94,000 tons of CO2 — the equivalent of eliminating more than 15,000 cars from the road every year, or planting more than 280,000 trees.

Reduce Water Usage
On average, a green school reduces water usage by 32%. This reduction has direct savings for the building, as well as substantial societal benefits, such as reducing stormwater runoff, and transporting and treating wastewater.

Improve Teacher Retention
A green school can reduce teacher turnover by as much as 5%, which improves student learning and school community, and can result in financial savings for the school.

Improve Daily Attendance
Students in green schools are absent less frequently. By reducing absenteeism just 15%, a typical elementary school would save $40,000 to $60,000.

Provide A Unique Educational Opportunity
Buildings can become teaching tools and important features of science, math, and environmental curriculum when green features and advanced technology and design in schools are used to excite kids about learning real world applications of green technologies. BPS is committed to using schools and schoolyards as living laboratories.

Create Green Jobs
Investing in building green schools is an investment in green jobs, including green construction, building product manufacturing, and green architecture.

Improve Equity
Greening public schools creates an opportunity to improve the health and educational settings for all students, while taking into account students’ diverse identities and needs.


How to green your school

Ready to take the next steps to green your school? Contact Sustainability & Environmental Resources Manager Katherine Walsh, kwalsh4@bostonpublicschools.org or 617-635-9576, and she can help you.

You can also check out the Center for Green School’s green school programs or the Every School Can Be A Green School: Getting Started Checklist. Visit the Center’s resources page for a full list of research papers, case studies, and green school reports.


Recommended Resources:


BPS Healthy & Sustainable Schools
Facilities Management
1216 Dorchester Ave.
Boston, MA 02125