Promoting Safer, Greener Learning Spaces For Kids

Increasingly, schools ranging from K-12 educational facilities to institutions of higher ed have been pursuing LEED certification, making use of on-site renewable energy, and incorporating environmental studies into their curricula. Yesterday at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York, education giant Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) and The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced their bid to get in on this trend, via a joint agreement aimed at increasing access to safer, healthier environments for the nation’s children.

This national initiative, known as Green Apple, aims to empower schools in the United States and beyond to become more effective places to learn. The focus of the Green Apple initiative is on raising public awareness regarding the plight of schools burdened with budget cuts, unsafe toxins, outdated resources, and buildings in need of repair, and the importance of educating students in healthy, safe and efficient places that enhance learning.


George P. Leyva Middle School, San Jose, Calif.

image via George P. Leyva Middle School

More specifically, Green Apple will provide schools with the tools to create and maintain clean, safe and sustainably designed learning environments, with an eye toward safeguarding student and teacher health, cutting school operational costs and improving educational outcomes. Together, HMH and the Center for Green Schools plan to leverage HMH’s sales force to provide tools and resources enabling schools to become better learning environments. This will include a benchmarking and needs assessment tools, as well as green teacher training and certification resources and a one year free membership to the USGBC.

The partners also plan to convene a group of key players to develop an agenda for integrating sustainability education across the core curriculum for the nation’s schools, and ensuring that teachers are prepared to deliver that content. HMH has also committed to reduce paper use through a virtual textbook sampling campaign: for every US school that opts in to virtual textbook samples rather than printed versions, HMH will make a donation to Green Apple.

“At HMH, we believe that where you learn is just as important as what and how you learn in delivering a quality education, and ultimately positive outcomes for students,” said Linda K. Zecher, President and CEO, HMH, in a statement. “Through Green Apple, our aim is to help implement tangible, positive change in US classrooms and beyond, by providing schools and teachers with the knowledge and tools to create safer, healthier places to learn, enabling students to focus on developing the skills they need for a successful future.”

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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