About CT Green LEAF Schools
The Connecticut Green LEAF Schools program is a collaboration with CT Outdoor & Environmental Education Association (COEEA) and EdAdvance and is supported by the CT Departments of Education, Energy and Environmental Protection, Public Health, and Construction Services, as well as many environmental and educational organizations to promote green and healthy schools for all. We are 145 schools strong and growing. We welcome all K-12 public and private schools and school districts to be part of this important statewide initiative to grow greener. We recognize that each school starts at a different point. Whether you are just starting out or are far along the path to becoming an exemplary green school, what matters is your commitment to growing greener. We are here to provide resources and support as you progress in your efforts towards sustaining growth as a CT Green LEAF School.
The Connecticut Green LEAF Schools program recognizes schools striving to make progress in three pillars:
Reduced Environmental Impact and Cost. A Connecticut Green LEAF School strives to decrease its environmental footprint by implementing green policies. Goals include maximizing energy and water efficiency, reducing waste, increasing recycling, and promoting energy efficient transportation.
Improved Health and Wellness. A Connecticut Green LEAF school complies with CT school-based environmental health laws (EHLs), promotes healthy eating beyond the cafeteria, provides access to outdoor spaces, and offers health and wellness opportunities to students and staff.
Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education. A Connecticut Green LEAF school seeks ways to integrate Environmental Literacy (EL) and Sustainability Literacy (SL) into school curriculum in more than one subject and grade level and aligns with CT’s Environmental Literacy Plan (ELP).
Why Become a Connecticut Green LEAF School?
Connecticut Green LEAF Schools are healthy, productive learning environments. Studies show that a green school raises student academic achievement, saves money, and improves the health of students and staff. Schools with strong EL and SL build critical thinking skills by designing curriculum that provides interesting, relevant, and real-world contexts for learning core concepts and skills while aligning with NGSS, state standards, and district learning benchmarks. These schools are energized by a mission to make a difference in their school and community.
Academic Benefits: Environmental education (EE) contributes to overall academic achievement and higher performance on tests when it is strategically integrated into the curriculum. Students learn more effectively within a real-world, experiential-based context combined with more traditional classroom approaches.
Health Benefits: Going green offers many health benefits for students and staff, including improved nutrition, physical and mental health. A focus on healthy eating, physical activity, time spent outdoors, and healthy environments lead to a decrease in obesity, asthma, and other illnesses and an increase in attendance rates.
Reduced Costs: Green schools are energy efficient, have lower utility costs, conserve resources, and reduce waste. Savings on energy, waste and water bills means extra money that can be used for academic and enrichment programs and facilities improvements, such as water filling stations.
Ideas for Aligning to CT Green LEAF School Pillars
Reduce Environmental Impact and Cost. Your school can achieve goals in this pillar through initiatives such as student-led energy teams, class energy assessments, onsite renewable energy systems, food share tables, recycling, composting, decreasing single-use disposable trays and plasticware in the cafeteria, paperless classrooms, installing automatic light sensors, walk-to-school programs, and attaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), ENERGY STAR® , Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) and other green building rating standards.
Improve the Health and Wellness of Students and Staff. Successful school strategies might include participating in the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools program, integrated pest management, green cleaning programs, exercise and wellness classes (i.e., yoga, Zumba, dance fitness) for students and staff; vegetarian and vegan food choices in the cafeteria; farm-to-school partnerships; butterfly, vegetable, and rain gardens and pollinator pathways; greenhouses; and outdoor classrooms, walking paths, schoolyard habitats, and other nature areas.
Provide Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education. There are several nationally recognized programs (e.g., Project Learning Tree, Project Wet, Project WILD, and Food, Land & People) connected to academic standards that offer teacher training and copy-ready lesson plans at little or no cost. Other ideas include field trips, project-based learning, service learning in the local community, STEM partnerships with businesses or universities, sustainability fairs, environmental restoration projects, and outdoor classrooms. Check our website often for teacher PD workshops designed to help you integrate EE and SE in your classroom curriculum.
Growing as a Connecticut Green LEAF School
Every school is unique and starts at a different level. The Connecticut Green LEAF Schools program accepts schools from all levels, from those that are just starting to those that have made significant progress toward greening their schools.
Level 1: Planting Seeds: Your school is just starting out and making plans. You are determining how you would like to achieve your goals, establishing priorities, and setting timelines to help your school move to the next level.
Level 2: Growing Green: Your school is making progress to put your green and healthy school plans into action. You are celebrating small changes and successes, such as professional development in EL and SL, curriculum integration, and greener facilities management.
Level 3: Sustaining Growth: Your school is now experiencing robust implementation of a green and healthy school plan in all three Green LEAF pillars. Your school has taken many actions to improve and expand a sustained school-wide Green LEAF culture.
Green Ribbon Schools
This is a U.S. Department of Education recognition program for K-12 schools, school districts, colleges and universities that have made significant progress in reducing their environmental impact and costs, improving health and wellness, and providing effective environmental and sustainability education. CT Green LEAF Schools can nominate up to four Connecticut Green LEAF Schools annually for this prestigious award.
For More Information
All information, documents and resources can be found here on this website. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Abby Peklo, CT Green LEAF Schools Director, at 860.567.0863 ext. 1166