Green Apple Day of Service Spotlight (USGBC National Capital Region)

Published on: 
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Mark Bryan

Feature image: National Capital Region volunteers rehabilitated a set of planter boxes that had fallen into disrepair, so students could again grow plants on school property.

On October 28, 30 members of the USGBC National Capital Region community performed a Green Apple Day of Service project, gathering at John Hayden Johnson Middle School in Southeast Washington, D.C. Organized by Braden Reid of HKS and Craighton Ellingsworth of GreenWall Source, volunteers from across the region went to work cleaning and transforming a seldom-used courtyard. The space is now a clean, vibrant common area where students can congregate and plant a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers.

View our full photo album of the event.

National Capital Region Green Apple project

The courtyard’s benches were cleaned, sanded and repainted, allowing students to once again congregate in the outdoor area.

Our community service events rely on the generosity of our volunteers and donors, and we can’t thank them enough for their time and energy. If you’re interested in hosting a Green Apple Day of Service in your community, check out the wide variety of sample projects on to inspire your efforts to give back to your local school. Once you begin planning your event let us know so that we can come document your amazing work.

National Capital Region Green Apple project

Community volunteers also refurbished and sealed a sign built by students, ensuring their creation will withstand the elements for years to come.

Special thanks are due to the companies that provided product donations in support of the project, including Benjamin Moore, Ernest Maier, Inc., Home Depot and Chipotle. We also thank Lavanya Poteau of Johnson Middle School for coordinating with us and donating her Saturday morning to our project.

Start your own Green Apple project

Green Apple Day of Service spotlight: Mary Lin Elementary in Atlanta

Published on: 
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Kristen Keim

Mary Lin Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia, is so dedicated to Green Apple Day of Service that in 2016 the school leaders stretched it out into a whole "Go Green Week." This weeklong event raised awareness and funds for the school’s outdoor classroom and learning garden. Students, parents, and staff were involved in activities to promote sustainability in school and at home.

On Monday, the students took a pledge to go green and were given challenges throughout the week, such as bringing a lunch and snack consisting of no waste; wearing clothes that were either recycled, vintage or secondhand; and creating a fashion show using trash.

Mary Lin used its recycling fundraiser, “Turn Trash into Ca$h,” to support construction of the outdoor classroom and garden. Working electronic waste (such as cell phones, smart phones and iPads) were sent to a company who recycled the e-waste and gave the school the proceeds.

The Saturday after Go Green Week, students and families of Mary Lin gathered to clean up their existing outdoor garden. Volunteers split into two groups, one to clean up the garden and the other to install and paint outdoor chalkboards for the playground. After the day’s work, the garden had been revitalized into a beautiful learning space.

Mary Lin Elementary Green Apple Day of Service project

The following spring, Mary Lin began the construction of the new outdoor classroom. Though the school has many more plans to improve the area, the volunteers completed the first of four phases of their outdoor classroom. The addition contains a garden that can serve a new garden club, expanding students’ ability to participate throughout the year. The outdoor classroom was unveiled in September 2017 to the public, for the community to see the product of their fundraising efforts. Mary Lin plans to continue building their outdoor classroom in the upcoming year.

Creating an outdoor classroom or school garden is a great way to involve the community in your own Green Apple Day of Service project. To get started, read Green Apple Day of Service’s create or tend a garden page. To fund your project, consider having an educator at your school ask for materials and supplies through If your project is registered on, the Center for Green Schools will match funds raised through, up to $200 per project.

Register a Green Apple project

USGBC staff volunteer for Green Apple Day of Service projects

Published on: 
Friday, November 17, 2017
Danielle Makous

This fall, USGBC staff joined the movement of parents, teachers and organizations working to make our schools greener through Green Apple Day of Service. More than 70 percent of our Washington, D.C.-based staff and over 50 percent of our staff around the world participated in Green Apple projects this year. Throughout the months of September and October, D.C. staff volunteered with sustainability-focused programs in K–12 schools around the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.

Discovery Elementary in Arlingon, Virginia

Discovery Elementary in Arlington, Virginia.

Our volunteers began each day visiting our closest net zero energy school, Discovery Elementary, to experience firsthand the impact of a green school. We saw how the physical environment and school curriculum can creatively work together to drive student understanding of sustainability. Among the highlights of the tour were an interactive rooftop solar lab, educational signage about the sustainable building features, physical design elements related to local plants and animals and a solar clock integrated into the school entranceway.

Discovery Elementary in Arlingon, Virginia

Discovery Elementary uses signage and graphics to educate on sustainability.

After the visit to Discovery Elementary, our staff split up to volunteer with two different projects. At Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, volunteers helped rearrange existing planting beds to create a space for classes to meet outside. Incorporating outdoor space and daylight into learning environments has been shown to improve student performance and increase productivity, as well as conserve energy resources.

Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School Green Apple Day of Service project

USGBC staff volunteer at a Green Apple project at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School.

The remaining staff volunteered for Joyful Food Markets, a program hosted by Martha’s Table and the Capital Area Food Bank that increases access to and encourages consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The program is run at elementary schools in neighborhoods that have a lower income and less access to healthy foods, such as Cornerstone of Washington School, Cedar Tree Academy, and Powell Elementary School, Turner Elementary, and DC Prep, where USGBC staff volunteered.

Joyful Food Markets Green Apple Day of Service project

USGBC staff volunteer at a Green Apple project for Joyful Food Markets at DC Prep.

Green Apple Day of Service projects focus on making school improvements to benefit students in line with the three pillars of a green school: reduced environmental impact, health and well-being and increased sustainability and environmental literacy. The volunteer projects that USGBC staff participated in this year contributed in particular to the second and third pillars. Our staff was among the thousands of volunteers across 70 countries participating in Green Apple Day of Service, helping make schools everywhere healthier and more sustainable for future generations.

Participate in a Green Apple project in your community

BASF teams up with USGBC Minnesota for Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Kathy Higgins

Looking for a way for your organization to support sustainable education and green schools? Ten BASF employees had the opportunity to give back to the community and have fun at the same time, when they volunteered with USGBC Minnesota on a Green Apple Day of Service project.

At the new outdoor classroom at Washburn Elementary School in Bloomington, USGBC Minnesota kicked off their Green Apple Day season with approximately 470 students throughout the one-day event. Students learned about compost, collected insect and pollinator dat, and studied trees.

Washburn Elementary School

BASF volunteers helped usher kids from one station to the next and assisted mentor teachers with materials and supplies. When BASF’s science education department heard about the event, they enthusiastically donated 470 BASF Kids’ Lab backpacks and aprons for the students’ outdoor adventure.

Washburn Elementary School

Creating chemistry for a sustainable future is BASF’s corporate strategy, and BASF has been a member of USGBC since 2003. BASF’s construction systems business, based in Shakopee, Minnesota, inhabits a LEED Silver office. The team of 10 from Shakopee split up into two three-hour-long shifts. Seeing so many children learning about sustainability in an outdoor setting was truly exciting for the participants.

The final impact stats for the day are impressive, and the BASF team is looking forward to the next event.

Register your own Green Apple project

Teach environmental literacy with Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Kristen Keim

Youth who are educated about sustainability and the environment help move us toward a society that considers the environmental impact of its everyday actions. Additionally, today’s younger generations must be literate in sustainability to compete in the growing green job market. Green Apple Day of Service is a great way to start implementing sustainability education in a school.

See our tips on how to educate for environmental and sustainability literacy as a Green Apple project.

Take a look at how these inspiring 2016 projects in Mexico implemented their ideas:

Green building education at Instituto Mater

Bioconstrucción, a green construction company in Mexico, dedicated a day to educating students and staff of Instituto Mater in Nuevo León about sustainability. The company was invited by the school to offer instruction on sustainable practices, such as identifying efficient A/C systems, insulating around windows to maintain the building temperature and using building orientation to maximize natural light and water collection. Using these tips, the school crafted a plan to remodel their buildings to be more sustainable.

Green Apple Day of Service with Bioconstruccion

Afterward, Bioconstrucción invited the students, ages 4 to 15, and staff to tour the company’s LEED Platinum building to learn what sustainable construction and green practices looked like in action. They provided advice for the school staff to promote and practice sustainability and provided information on the Green Classroom Professional certificate program available through USGBC.

As a result of the Green Apple Day of Service project, Instituto Mater has made a commitment to creating a more sustainable environment for their students, including incorporating sustainability into their educational program. The school also enhanced this commitment by enrolling teachers in Learning Lab, an online platform for teachers to find and use sustainability and STEM-based lessons.

Creative competitions with Escuela Promesa

As part of their 2016 Green Apple Day of Service program, Escuela Promesa, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching students about environmental education, challenged 90 schools (and their 61,490 students!) to participate in a “Google and SUMe” competition. SUMe is a partner organization dedicated to green building in Mexico. Two competitions were presented to schools, each based on age group, which challenged students to think about sustainability and the actions they could take to make a positive impact.

Green Apple Day of Service with Escuela Promesa

In the elementary schools, students created a story that that described the changes they could make in their own homes to make them more sustainable. Middle and high school students made videos explaining their vision of a sustainable city and the practices that their own cities would need to enact to reach that vision. Eight schools were recognized for their level of participation in the competition, and the winners were given certificates, plants for their school and (for the older students) a tour of the LEED Gold Google Mexico office.

These two projects in Mexico reflect how Green Apple projects can prepare students worldwide, through education, to face future environmental challenges.

Register a Green Apple Day of Service project

Reviving a school garden with Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Kristen Keim

Outdoor classrooms allow students to connect with nature and learn about plant cycles and wildlife habitats. Getting outside also grants teachers the opportunity to offer hands-on activities that can only take place in an outdoor setting. Green Apple Day of Service is a perfect time to create an outdoor classroom garden, or to make improvements to one you already have.

See our tips on how to create or tend a school garden for a Green Apple project.

Clover Hill Elementary School in Midlothian, Virginia, knows the importance of an outdoor space for students to connect with nature. However, their outdoor classroom had become overgrown and rarely used. The school decided to restore the space during their Green Apple Day of Service to make it more accessible to students and teachers—and to the wildlife within the space.

Clover Hill Green Apple Day of Service project

Clover Hill gathered students, parents and staff volunteers to replace overgrown weeds with native plants, mulch the area and build a podium and benches. All this work revived the outdoor classroom, creating a welcoming space for students and teachers to gather for lessons. With the hard work done, the students decided to open up the space to the community, to take what they learned about sustainability and habitat restoration and share it with their whole neighborhood.

Clover Hill Green Apple Day of Service project

The new outdoor classroom encourages students and families to spend time connecting with nature. The students’ passion in restoring their outdoor space and their dedication to sharing with the larger community have inspired the parents and project volunteers. A recent NOAA Bay Backpack article also covered the project.

Does your school need an outdoor classroom, or do you already have one that needs a makeover? For more help planning your project, check out the Green Apple Day of Service project checklist.

Create a Green Apple project