Energy Focus brings a new light to schools through Green Apple partnership

Published on: 
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Josh Lasky

USGBC is proud to welcome Energy Focus as our newest Green Apple Partner. Energy Focus, a leading provider of energy efficient LED lighting products and technology, is committed to transforming the places where our students learn.

“We believe that making our schools healthier and more efficient is more than just an opportunity—it’s a responsibility,” said Eric Hilliard, President and Chief Operating Officer of Energy Focus. “Our team is excited to actively support the incredible work of the Center for Green Schools to provide green schools for all students within this generation.” As part of their commitment to the partnership, Energy Focus will donate 2.5 cents for every tubular LED product sold, which will carry the Green Apple mark, to support the work of the Center for Green Schools to create healthier, safer, more sustainable learning environments.

Hitting the ground running as a Green Apple Partner, Energy Focus has set an ambitious goal for this year’s Green Apple Day of Service. The company’s passion for better lighting in schools led them to create the “Change a Light, Change a Life” initiative, through which Energy Focus will donate, free of charge, LED lighting for 50 special needs classrooms in 50 schools across the metro New York City and tri-state area. In addition to transforming learning environments, Energy Focus hopes to increase education about the role that lighting can play improving health and well-being for students and teachers. To learn more about the “Change a Light, Change a Life” initiative, click here.

Energy Focus brings longstanding commitments to sustainability along with a history of high-impact partnerships, having created energy efficient LED lighting systems for the U.S. Navy fleet.

“We are proud to welcome Energy Focus as our latest Green Apple Partner. Like the Center for Green Schools, Energy Focus understands that where our children learn matters,” said Rachel Gutter, USGBC's Senior Vice President of Knowledge and the Director of the Center for Green Schools. “We very much look forward to working together to transform our schools into healthy, efficient and productive learning environments."

Finding resources for your Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Joe Nelson

While plenty of Green Apple Day of Service projects can be low- or no-cost endeavors, some of your ideas may take a little more than elbow grease to accomplish. Inspired by Brady Barkdull from the USGBC Wyoming Chapter, who is using a crowdfunding campaign to support his 2015 Green Apple Day of Service project (check out his campaign for a recycling program at Victor Elementary School in Victor, Idaho), we’ve gathered several creative project financing ideas so that you too can make your project dreams a reality. Here are just a few ways you can find the financial support you are looking for:

  • Crowdfunding – By accessing a large number of people online, even very small individual donations add up quickly. Find more information here about the different crowdfunding sites that exist.
  • Large donation of in-kind materials – Talk with local hardware stores about Green Apple Day of Service and the project you are trying to do to help your local school. Find a time when you can visit to share more information about the specific materials (have all of this information ready!) that would help make your project a success.
  • Crowdfunded donations of in-kind materials – Create a detailed list of materials and tools that you will need in order to get your project done and see if you can get each person in your network to lend you a tool or give a supply item. Follow up with emails to everyone as your list gets shorter!
  • Set up a revolving fund with your school – If your project has a return period, see if your school can pledge a small amount of money up front knowing that it will pay for itself over time. Come up with plans for future projects to continue paying for themselves and you may be able to work with more money each successive year.
  • Your city or town officials – Talk to local officials as early as you can about the idea you have and what you need to get it done. There may be some discretionary funding in their budget to support at least part of the effort – plus, public schools are public facilities that need to be maintained. Who knows, maybe they will show up and pour in a few volunteer hours of their own!
  • Make your efforts visible to the community – If your local stores are unable to donate any materials directly, ask for time and space outside of a store’s entrance for students to talk to incoming shoppers about the project. Draft a pitch for the students to effectively talk about the goal of the project and what materials, specifically, are needed. You may find that people will decide to buy an extra item for your project while they do the rest of their shopping and donate it on the way out. Be sure to invite also invite the store managers to come volunteer at your final event.
  • Combine multiple strategies! – Most of these strategies do not need to be used in isolation. Determine which could help and find other volunteers to activate as many of these strategies as you can to make sure you have everything you need for a wildly successful Green Apple Day of Service event!

Remember to spread the word wide and far. The more people that know about your project and what you need, the better your chances of finding someone who wants to get involved. Ask your own network (especially the other volunteers and supporters) to reach out to their networks. Soon, the whole community will know and you will succeed.

Finally, follow-up is extremely important. Don’t forget to return the stuff that was only meant to be on loan, thank everyone sincerely and often, and keep them engaged in the effort by sharing before and after photos.

What are you doing for Green Apple Day of Service? Let us know your plans, and other creative fundraising ideas, in the comments! 

The Green Apple Day of Service: An especially valuable endeavor

Published on: 
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Joe Nelson

We can all agree that north of 300,000 volunteers actively contributing to healthy, safe, efficient, and productive learning environments is a tremendous benefit to the green schools movement. Each participant brings additional strength to the effort.

However, it is often overlooked that participation also has tremendous value for the students who decide to roll up their sleeves and dig in. Here are some of the ways Green Apple Day of Service is an especially valuable endeavor for you whether you’re currently a student, or just want to support the green schools effort:

  1. Experience: Whether your school is trying to create a new garden, paint walls with low-VOC paint, start a recycling program, or perform an energy audit, your involvement allows you to learn valuable skills. Taking a few hours to learn about any one of these projects, or others, is a wise investment of time.
  2. Understanding: Your participation gives you the opportunity to observe complexity in the greater issues of sustainability and education. You can witness change and progress while coming to recognize opportunity to improve the world around you, articulate why it matters, and identify how to start. That alone is powerful.
  3. Initiative: Infuse your life with action. Your participation exhibits that you are not only smart enough to see an opportunity, but that you are proactive and willing to put your efforts toward creating a transformation.
  4. Social Responsibility: With the challenges facing younger generations becoming more complex,demonstrated commitment to public service is important for development as a valued community member and global citizen. You will also find that this work is fulfilling and fun!
  5. Leadership: Organizing an event gives you the opportunity to empower others and create an impact larger than any individual can make on their own. Through Green Apple Day of Service, you can put into practice a highly sought after skill that will continue to provide you with opportunities throughout your career.

More than ever before, colleges and employers are looking for people who demonstrate—not just talk about—experience, understanding, initiative, social responsibility and leadership. These are the essential tools needed to address our greatest challenges, and the characteristics embodied by the most productive and responsible leaders today.

So why not start proving this now? The movement has already begun, opportunities exist, and the need is as great. Find a project near you or set free your own passions and address a need at a school you love by registering your own event.

You can do it. We are here to provide support and your community is waiting for you.

Learn more about the Green Apple Day of Service

USGBC celebrates World Green Building Week with Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Julia Pergolini

The World Green Building Council’s World Green Building Week is in full swing, celebrating the efforts of Green Building Councils (GBCs) from 100 countries around the world, which in turn represent more than 27,000 organizations.

From Sept. 21-27, 2015, GBCs are taking part in events that encourage people to take direct action and make an environmental difference in their communities. This year’s theme, “Powering Positive Change,” reflects our shared mission to create sustainable built environments and encourages us to find ways of sharing our many diverse, impactful stories.

Celebrate through Green Apple Day of Service

USGBC recognizes the importance of taking direct and immediate action to implement positive change, which is why we are celebrating World Green Building Week by participating in Green Apple Days of Service across the United States, all leading up to the official Green Apple Day of Service next Saturday, Sept. 27.

Now in its fourth year, the Day of Service gives parents, teachers, students, local organizations and businesses the opportunity to transform schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments through local service projects.

There are thousands of Green Apple Day of Service projects taking place this month, and you can join us by volunteering or registering for one this week or any day of the year. There’s no better time than “right now” to implement positive change.

Don't forget to share your World Green Building Week photos, stories and more on social media using the hashtag #WGBweek. Feel free to join the discussions around Green Apple Day of Service using the hashtag #GreenAppleDay. Let’s celebrate empowerment, sustainability and change together.

Green Sports Alliance assembles a winning team for Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Monday, August 17, 2015
Josh Lasky

On Sunday, June 28, the Green Sports Alliance launched their 2015 Summit in Chicago with a special Green Apple Day of Service project co-presented by Connor Sports with partners Chicago Public Schools, HOK, Skanska, Excel Dryer, USGBC-Illinois, and the Center for Green Schools at USGBC.

“The Green Sports Alliance is committed to promoting healthy, sustainable communities where we live and play,” said Scott Jenkins, Board Chair of the Green Sports Alliance and Stadium General Manager of AMB Sports & Entertainment Group. “We are excited to support the Center for Green Schools at USGBC’s Green Apple initiative and host local community school volunteer projects in association with our annual Green Sports Alliance Summit. We are striving to advance healthier, higher performing and more economical schools by leveraging the cultural influence of sports. “

Volunteers came together at Robert Healy Elementary School to provide upgrades to the schoolyard and school building façade. By the end of the day, the group of nearly 100 volunteers had built and planted raised bed gardens, painted a sports-themed mural, given fresh coats of paint to the school building exterior, and painted lines for a basketball court, two four-square courts, a hopscotch game and a football field.

“It was a long, full day, but all the hard work really paid off,” said Sara Hoversten, director of operations for the Green Sports Alliance. “We are very proud of what we were able to accomplish as a team in such a short period of time. We know the students and the local community will enjoy and make great use of the upgraded schoolyard.”

Learn more about the Green Apple Day of Service

Introducing CoCo & Dean: Green Apple Day of Service inspiration

Published on: 
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Morgan Bulman

With the Center for Green School’s Green Apple Day of Service right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how your community or classroom can get involved in a local service project to transform schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments.


USGBC-North Carolina’s very own Emily Scofield offers her first book, CoCo & Dean: Explorers of the World, as inspiration. Scofield’s book provides children with the education and enthusiasm necessary to take on some of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. I interviewed Scofield to learn more and to hear about her Green Apple Day of Service plans.

What inspired you to write CoCo & Dean: Explorers of the World?

ES: When I was growing up, it was my job to collect and crush the family’s aluminum cans.  If I did, I could keep the change from the scrap yard. I understood we were diverting waste from the landfill and that the cans were going into new materials; so, it wasn’t just one and done.

My grandparents lived on 21 acres in my hometown and to me that might as well have been 1000 acres! Being able to roam freely in nature definitely nurtured my appreciation for the natural environment.

Fast forward to my early career, I was an adjunct professor at several colleges in the Charlotte area, teaching courses on issues in science and environmental science, among other things. At the end of a semester, I could see people who came to class with little or no appreciation about how their daily actions impact the environment. But I could also see those who had an understanding and an awareness of these interactions.  Students saw you don’t have to completely overhaul your lifestyle but that you can make modifications to reduce the impact on the planet.

After the birth of my first child, I started jotting down outlines, characters and stories for a children’s fiction book that raises global environmental awareness.

Why is it important to have children’s literature detail the environmental challenges of today?

ES: The void I saw in this genre was big. I feel strongly that children of all ages need to be introduced to environmental issues within and beyond their immediate community. What I have done with CoCo & Dean: Explorers of the World is introduce fun, familiar characters that encounter an environmental issue like eco-impact, waste reduction and plastic trash in the ocean. The message with each story is, “Do not be overwhelmed, but do something” because every positive action contributes to positive change.

How do you envision this book being used in classrooms or for other educational programs?

ES: I worked with several teachers during the proofing of the book. I am grateful for their advice because they really improved the final product. This book is an ideal supplement to environmental lessons for traditional classrooms, homeschool networks, scouts seeking an eco-badge, STEM/Sustainability clubs, and of course USGBC’s green schools outreach! The book contains three short stories with a glossary and sections called ‘Explore Further with CoCo & Dean.’ This section provides discussion points, activities and links to learn more about the environmental issue introduced.

As the Executive Director of the USBGC-NC, do you have any plans for the upcoming Green Apple Day of Service on Sept. 26?

ES: I will be involved in several Green Apple Day of Service projects on and around Sept. 26 and am planning to read “Conquering Rabbit Hill” (the second story in CoCo & Dean: Explorers of the World) and have waste reduction activities and discussions with the students. I think the book is a great tool for the USGBC community and all of our Green Apple volunteers as we look for ways to engage generation green and to assist our teachers.

Do you think you could provide us with a sneak peek of CoCo & Dean’s upcoming adventures?

ES: Absolutely! The second book in the series is already in the works. CoCo & Dean will cover topics of water availability, food supply and energy demands. The second book will also introduce ethnically diverse characters from around the world. Stay tuned! For more information, please visit or follow @cocoanddean on Twitter.

This year’s Green Apple Day of Service will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26. Introducing students to books like CoCo & Dean, or 2014’s Willow Watts and the Green Schools Wish, are great ways to participate.

Be sure to check out project ideas, pick up helpful event resources, read about last year's impactfind an event in your area and register your 2015 event today!


Green Apple Day of Service buzz: Bee hotels in Kansas

Published on: 
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Liz Mayes

Green Apple Day of Service project from earlier this year has already gained national attention from the likes of the Washington Post and LA’s National Public Radio for its approach to solving the rapid decline in native bee populations.

Staff at PROSOCO, led by sustainability and environment manager Kay Johnson, partnered with a team of architects at Clark | Huesemann, and researchers from the University of Kansas Biological Survey to combat one of the biggest culprits of native bee loss: loss of habitable space. Unlike honeybees, native bees live in solitude, and normally nest in places like dead logs with beetle holes or hollow plant stems.

A rapid decrease in bee population has garnered recent attention because of the vital role bees play in the food chain. These bees are responsible for pollinating some of our most common fruits and vegetables: apples, peaches, cherries, strawberries, onions, green beans, tomatoes and more. Without native bees, much of the livestock that humans eat would be unable to survive.

For this year’s Green Apple Day of Service, volunteers constructed bee hotels to mimic the naturally occurring tunnels used by bees to lay eggs and nest. Working together with a local Girl Scout troop, they created thousands of tunnels using bamboo, paper, and wood—enough space for a total of about 3,000 bees at a time.

PROSOCO, which produces energy-efficient, minimum-impact products for the construction industry, contributed some of its own building materials to the project. Johnson explained that the bee hotel project was important to the company because of their commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. “We hope to inspire other companies to build their own bee hotels for their local bees,” she said. On how other companies can get involved in the Day of Service, Johnson suggests, “finding what sustainability commitment and corporate responsibility initiative makes the most sense for your company and act on it. Then, tell people about it so they can learn from and be encouraged by your leadership. Every company should have a bee hotel story.”

Bee hotels are not a new idea, but are only recently gaining popularity as an innovative tool to combat the decline in bee population. “Especially in Europe, some of these have been around hundreds of years. So we should have been paying attention,” Johnson points out.

Those who are interested in constructing their own bee hotels can follow an easy set of instructions provided by the National Geographic, or see the group’s bee hotel instructions. Bee hotels are a great way to engage students with the ecosystem that exists right in the schoolyard. Consider this or a whole colony of ideas for Green Apple Day of Service by visiting

Sign up your event today

Register for the 2015 Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Emily Riordan

The Green Apple Day of Service brings together thousands of students, teachers, parents and community leaders from around the globe to improve our school environments through service projects, education, community events and more. 

This year's Green Apple Day of Service will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015.

Register your 2015 project today

Be sure to check out project ideas, pick up helpful event resources, read about last year's impact and find an event in your area.

The numbers are in! 2014 Green Apple Day of Service stats

Published on: 
Monday, January 19, 2015
Emily Riordan

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a time to focus on what we can do for others, something we know that supporters of the green schools movement do all year long. 

Last year saw the biggest turnout ever for Green Apple Day of Service. More than 3,800 events, projects and commitments took place in 43 countries, with 306,000 volunteers supporting the learning environments of more than two million students. 

Would you have guessed that at least 40% of volunteers spent the third annual Day of Service outside? The Center for Green Schools team was out in the September sunshine here in D.C., but we know that people around the world were participating in all kinds of projects:

  • At the Muskegon, Michigan farmers market, students (and adults too!) learned about healthy eating by taste testing new vegetables and herbs
  • At Chicago’s High School for the Arts, architects and engineers volunteered to install a recycling center and install a green wall inside of the school
  • In Mexico, students at the Instituto Thomas Jefferson learned how to make their own toxic-free cleaning products, and started campaigns to rid their school of plastic water bottles

Check out our infographic to get the whole story on this year’s stats, and share it with your volunteers and community. 

Thank you to all of the hard working volunteers that participated in 2014's Green Apple Day of Service. We’re already planning for this year, and hope you are too! Sign up your project today, and stay in touch with the Green Apple team all year long. 

First Green Apple Day of Service in Sri Lanka

Published on: 
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Tanvi Jaganath

On Sept. 27, 2014, Green Technologies Dubai, a USGBC Education Partner, carried the message of environmental protection to St. Anthony’s Maha Vidyalaya School, Allogaollewa, in rural Sri Lanka. The co-ed school, which was specially selected by the directors of Green Technologies and serves approximately 300 students from kindergarten to grade 11 was home to the first ever Green Apple Day of Service in Sri Lanka.

Sept. 27 was set aside for Green Apple Day of Service, a day to remember for the students, teachers and all who participated. The principal of the school, who is also the priest of the nearby parish church, enthusiastically took charge to make this event a success, both from a knowledge and awareness standpoint with added fun to make the event enjoyable.

The day’s agenda included many events, including a poster competition and an essay competition. Both were based on the theme of the day: energy, water savings and the protection of the environment.

The winners of the two competitions were selected by a representative from the Education Department as well as a principal of another school. Three winners were chosen from each of the eleven grades, for a total of 66 winners in all. Each winner was given a certificate as well as a cash prize. Two winners were chosen from higher grades, one girl and one boy, who were each presented with a bicycle. Each of the 22 teachers who taught the kids the special message were also presented with a gift and certificate in recognition of their hard work, which went into making the event a success.

There was more! A guest artist, Mr. Jayathilaka Bandara, was invited to bring the message of the day to perfect light with a musical show which was specially created with poems and songs carefully selected highlighting the theme of the day. Other events included songs and poems, plays, dances and awards, and food and drink. The smiles on the students’ young faces were enough evidence of the pleasure and happiness this day brought to everybody.

A further highlight of the day was the unveiling of a mural, drawn by a local architect and his wife, depicting the Chief of Seattle’s message: “We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children”. The principal of the school commissioned this mural to cover a prominent wall of the school by the roadside, to be seen by all passersby.  This mural honors the first ever Green Apple Day of Service in Sri Lanka, and the only school in the country to have been chosen by Green Technologies to host this event.

One of the Green Technologies team members who hails from India gave a speech in Sinhala, one of the local languages in Sri Lanka. The presentation showed how kids can help clean the environment and keep the sickness-bearing mosquitoes away. Kids were encouraged to locate trees that grow easily in their area and plant fruit and flower trees in their home gardens. 

The entire event was funded by a group of well-wishers from Green Technologies Dubai, who are committed to the message and the wellbeing of children in a developing environment. It is no wonder that one week after the event, the principal of the school received the Best Principal Award in the Kekirawa district, presented by the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.