Green schools produce healthy, high-achieving kids

by Christian Clansky, Washington Grantmakers

The Earth Day Network (EDN) has a vision: turn all of America’s schools green within one generation. The group’s motives might surprise you though.

Yes, green schools are better for the environment. They typically use a third less energy and a third less water than regular school facilities, and they reduce greenhouse gas emissions and smog-producing nitrogen oxides. But it turns out that green schools are also directly linked with improved student achievement and health.

Last week, EDN told the Sustainable Communities Working Group that students in these schools post higher test scores and are generally more involved. Their self confidence and self esteem are markedly elevated. Teacher and student retention is increased. Students with diabetes, asthma, or respiratory problems experience improved heath. Green schools even cause a lower incidence of tooth decay!


After hearing about the wide range of (decidedly unexpected) benefits that green schools offer (click here to learn more), WG members heard from District Department of Environment director George Hawkins about current school greening efforts. Miguel Brito, the head of St. Philip’s Academy in Newark, NJ, shared his experiences turning his school green, and discussed innovative options that others might emulate.

SCWG next meets in November to learn more about messaging campaigns related to the Anacostia River, and the Anacostia Trash Initiative.

One thought on “Green schools produce healthy, high-achieving kids”

  1. I’d be interested in knowing how the demographics of the schools that go green are affecting the results in regards to student achievement. If the schools that are green tend to be in higher socio-economic areas, then the higher achievement is most likely not directly related to the school being green.

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