As the Colorado chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council ramps up for its Green Schools Summit 2015, it has launched a new coalition of green school partners.

“Education is no longer a passive experience where students sit in front of a chalkboard. The brightest school systems get students out from behind their desks to learn in a hands-on teaching style,” said Patti Mason, executive director, USGBC Colorado Chapter. “Green schools offer an ideal learning environment for 21st Century students. They also lead to improved health, test scores and faculty retention.”

The USGBC Colorado Green Schools Initiative aims to establish a Colorado Green Schools Coalition that brings together a diverse group of passionate school leaders to discuss best practices and raise awareness. The first coalition meeting consisted of green school advocates from Aurora Public Schools, Denver Public Schools, Douglas County School District, Colorado Dept. of Education, Colorado Energy Office, Project Learning Tree, Green Up Our Schools, Earth Force, Council for Educational Facilities Planners International, Donnell-Kay Foundation, and Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education. The conversation will continue when Colorado’s brightest green schools programs are explored at the summit on November 6.

Many of Colorado’s school districts are developing new curriculum to educate students on environmental issues and how they can make a difference in their schools and communities. “Denver Public Schools is  implementing new curriculum in elementary and middle schools that integrates basic science and math into environmentally focused classes so students get a well-rounded education,” said Laurel Mattrey, sustainability manager, Denver Public Schools Sustainability Office.

Aurora Public Schools teamed up with the Center for Resource Conservation and started a Renew Our Schools program that focuses on energy efficiency. Originally, 10 of the schools in the district had e-gage meters installed to collect data on energy usage and waste. The data analysis led to new conservation efforts, which allowed for a 20% reduction in energy usage. Because the e-gage meters were so successful, meters were installed in all 59 schools. The new conservation efforts saved Aurora Public Schools $150,000 across the district.

Programs such as Green Up Our Schools and the Colorado Energy Office Energy Savings Schools Program support schools that are making efforts to improve school facilities. They provide sustainability consultants that help implement green initiatives in schools.

“The main goal of the Colorado Green Schools Coalition is to connect these green schools pioneers and find synergies in what they are doing. The more they can help each other, the more the schools will benefit,” said Kristen Anderson, chair, USGBC Colorado Green Schools Initiative.

Leaders of green schools, green building industry professionals and educators will convene for USGBC Colorado’s annual Green Schools Summit at the Arvada Center in November.