Become a Green School

Project Learning Tree’s GreenSchools program provides resources and ideas to actively engage your students in making their school a greener and healthier place.

The benefits to becoming a Green School often include:

  • Significant cost savings
  • Improved student learning, particularly in STEM
  • Enhanced student leadership skills
  • Recognition within the wider community for your school’s accomplishments
  • A solid foundation for a lifetime of environmental stewardship

Ready to Get Started?                                             

1. Download PLT’s GreenSchools Investigations

Five hands-on student-driven investigations will help you and your students enhance and better utilize your school grounds, reduce energy use, conserve water, recycle, reduce waste, and improve air quality, among other projects. Or, access PLT’s Early Childhood GreenSchools materials that are designed specifically for early childhood educators and younger learners.

2. Get Training

Project Learning Tree provides new and veteran teachers with high-quality, affordable professional development. Training is available in-person or online.

  • Learn new teaching skills.
  • Receive PLT’s multi-disciplinary activity guides and state-specific supplemental resources.
  • Become comfortable teaching outdoors — in urban, suburban, and rural environments.

In order to become a certified PLT GreenSchool, your school must have at least two teachers who are trained in PLT. 

3. Incorporate Environmental Education into Your Curriculum

Make teaching about the environment a regular part of the school day and provide students with meaningful outdoor learning experiences.

PLT has hundreds of multi-disciplinary, hands-on activities for students of all ages that are easy and fun to do — both indoors and outdoors — and they meet state and national academic standards.

4. Form a Green Team

Student-led Green Teams are the driving force behind the PLT GreenSchools program. Teachers, administrators, and other school staff (such as custodial, maintenance, and cafeteria staff) are the facilitators. 

Together, your Green Team will explore what individual and collective actions you can take to improve the health, safety, and environmental quality of your school. You’ll discover how reducing your school’s environmental footprint is not only good for the environment and people’s health, but also can save your school money.

5. Conduct PLT’s GreenSchools Investigations

Download an adult leader guide and five investigations (most suited for middle and high school students) focused around energy, water, waste, school site, and environmental quality.

Or, access PLT’s Early Childhood GreenSchools materials that are designed specifically for early childhood educators and younger learners.

6. Take Action

After your Green Team has completed one or more of the five PLT GreenSchools Investigations, it’s time to take action! Using the baseline data your team has gathered, students will decide what they most want to do to improve their school’s environment. They should measure progress towards meeting their goals, and the Green Team should document their school’s improved environmental performance over a given time period.

Here are just a few examples of things your students could do, ranging from simple to more complex:

  • Turn lights off and unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Promote “no idling” for buses and cars, especially near school air intake vents.
  • Install rainwater barrels to collect water from roofs and gutters for watering plants.
  • Start a recycling program, or set up a compost bin for yard waste, fruit, and vegetable scraps.
  • Plant a school garden and use it to study science and other core subjects, as well as to provide nutritious food and teach healthy eating habits.

7. Share and Celebrate Your Work

Get recognized for your hard work to green your school! Your Green Team should celebrate their achievements and communicate their findings with other students, school administrators, and the community. For some ideas, see the Celebrate Success tip sheet in the adult leader guide.


Vanessa Bullwinkle

Vanessa Bullwinkle

Vanessa Bullwinkle is Director of Communications & Marketing for Project Learning Tree.