12 | Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly
Green schools and the practice of whole school
sustainability (WSS) are relatively new, and rapidly
growing, phenomena in K-12 education led by
a new generation of school leaders who are
applying sustainability-focused frames of mind
and practice to their work (See for example,
Kensler & Uline, 2015; Kensler & Uline, 2017).
These green school leaders understand that
human organizations, including schools, impact
the health of local and global socio-ecological
communities and vice versa. According to
recent counts, communities across the globe
benefit from 1,872 certified and 2,193 registered
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design) K-12 school projects (USGBC, 2017a).
Sustainability-related reform efforts are also
reflected in the 735 Eco-Schools spread across
45 states, plus the District of Columbia (NWF,
2016). There is also a growing cadre of Green
Schools Alliance members and hundreds of U.S.
Department of Education Green Ribbon School
Although the actual number of green schools is
still a very small percentage of schools overall,
these early exemplars apply WSS as a high
leverage strategy for addressing 21st century
challenges, from student engagement and
performance to climate change and community
resilience. In these schools, learning tends to
be intelligently integrated with nature, place/
problem/project centered, appropriately
individualized, and grounded in local places.
As a result, principals report improvements in
Sustainability-focused Frames of
Embedded within Current School
Cynthia L. Uline, Ph.D.
Lisa A. W. Kensler, Ed.D.