Green Schools Quest

The USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter is challenging public and private schools within the Chapter’s territory (Missouri and Southern Illinois) to devise and implement, with the help of Green Mentors, the most creative, effective and no- or low-cost sustainable practices for their schools. Join us as we work toward the vision: Green Schools for all within this generation!

Each school in the Green Schools Quest forms a team of student participants. Teams may be a single classroom, a student club, a grade level, or an entire school. Each team engages in their chosen sustainability project(s) between October 2021 and March 2022, and submits their outcomes for a chance to win cash prizes.

A Green Mentor is assigned to each school to assist with ideas, documentation and community resources.

2021-22 Registration

Download the 2021-22 Green Schools Quest flyer!

SCHOOLSClick here to register!

MENTORSClick here to register!

2021-22 Participants

More than 30 schools and Green Mentors are registered for this year’s Quest. Click here to view a list of participants!

2021-22 Timeline

October 2021 – March 2022 – Participating schools work with their Green Mentors to engage in either one six-month-long project or monthly sustainability challenges depending upon the program track they choose.

Adapted Format:
     – Monthly – Gift raffle winners announced
     – January & April 2022 – $200 Raffle winners announced

Traditional Format:
     – April 2022Elementary, Middle & High ($300, trophy) and Spotlight Award ($100) winners announced

2021-22 Program Format

For the 2021-22 academic year, a hybrid program format will be offered. Schools may choose to engage in the format that works best for them, though they will need to confirm which track they are following at the start of the program. The track will influence the frequency and type of material submissions and award possibilities. 

  • Traditional Format: One comprehensive six-month-long project
    • Complete Final Submission Form and submit 5-minute digital presentation and written report at conclusion by March 15. View outline of submission materials here.
    • Reviewed by panel of judges using this evaluation rubric, and winners determined in elementary, middle and high school divisions
    • Encouraged to integrate monthly theme principles into projects
    • Winners receive trophy and cash prize
  • Adapted Format: Monthly Sustainability Challenges
    • Monthly sustainability challenges built around the following themes:
      • Importance of Place (Oct)
      • Interconnectedness (Nov)
      • Respect for Limits (Dec)
      • Systems Thinking & Cycles (Jan)
      • Social Equity (Feb)
      • Global Citizenship (Mar)
    • Schools may participate in as many or as few of the monthly challenges as desired
    • Submit simple monthly submission forms sharing progress
    • Cash award winners drawn at random from submissions


Traditional Format: One comprehensive six-month-long project
Winners determined by panel of judges using this evaluation rubric

  • Division Winners: $300 & trophy
    • One High School 
    • Two Middle School 
    • Three Elementary / Early Childhood
  • Spotlight Awards: $100
    • Rookie of the Year
    • Sustainability Champion
    • Judges’ Choice
    • Innovation
    • Focus of the Year: Health & Wellness

Adapted Format: Monthly Sustainability Challenges
Winners drawn at random

  • Three $200 cash award drawn in January from Oct-Dec submissions
  • Three $200 cash award drawn in April from Jan-Mar submissions
  • Monthly gift bundle

Rainbow of Sustainability Principles (Monthly Challenges Themes)

All participants can utilize the Rainbow of Sustainability as a framework for integrating sustainability principles into students’ learning and Green Schools Quest projects.

The principles outlined in the Rainbow of Sustainability make up the monthly challenge themes for those participating in the Adapted program format. Schools participating in the Traditional program format can also benefit from this resource by viewing their project through the lens of one or more principles (and they can earn extra points for integrating at least two principles into their projects, as outlined in the evaluation rubric!)

  • October: Importance of Place
  • November: Interconnectedness 
  • December: Respect for Limits
  • January: Systems Thinking & Cycles 
  • February: Social Justice
  • March: Global Citizenship

Click here to view the Monthly Challenge Themes & Resources Packet.

Click here to view a presentation on how to apply the Rainbow of Sustainability tool.

Click here for an overview of the Rainbow of Sustainability principles.

Green Mentors

As in the past, we will assign each school a Green Mentor who will provide information, help, and encouragement as needed.

Mentor Responsibilities:

  • Fill out the Mentor Registration Form 
  • Participate in a virtual Green Mentor training
  • Pair up with a PK-12 school
  • Commit roughly 5 hours/month from Oct 2021 to March 2022
  • Provide guidance, resources, and encouragement as needed to assist students and their team sponsor as they plan and implement their chosen sustainability project(s)
  • Follow COVID precautions and procedures established by school
  • Submit two quick, online progress surveys
  • Become a USGBC-Missouri Gateway or Missouri Environmental Education Association (MEEA) Member, if you are not already

2021-22 Resources for Participants

Welcome Letter
Outlines noteworthy items for 2021-22 and includes links to resources all on one page you can bookmark and keep handy.

Video Recordings
All Green Mentors and School Leads are asked to view these recordings.

Green Mentor Checklist
A mentor-oriented checklist of actions for Getting Started and best practices for Ongoing tasks throughout the Quest.

School Lead Checklist
A school-oriented checklist of actions for Getting Started and best practices for Ongoing tasks throughout the Quest.

Ways for Mentors to Engage
Each school, project, team, and mentor is unique – so the support that a Green Mentor provides varies. This year, the additional layers of variability due to the pandemic and the adapted format will further influence how mentors engage. We recommend that the School Lead and Mentor review the ideas listed here and mutually determine the best form of support that the mentor can provide this year. A huge thanks to each of you for your flexibility as we continue to navigate this territory.

Rainbow of Sustainability Principles / Monthly Challenge Themes & Resources Packet
Explore the monthly themes, project ideas, and resources. This resource will be updated on an ongoing basis.

Submission Forms

Photo Releases
A photo release must be submitted for every student that appears in the images included in the monthly submission forms.  Two options are available: an Individual Photo Release Form to be signed by each student’s parent/guardian, or a Certificate of School Official photo release upon which a school official certifies that the school/district has secured and has on file all appropriate image release and permission agreements and consents from parents/guardians of school children who appear in images shared by the school.

Evaluation Rubric
This rubric will solely be used to evaluate projects in the Traditional format track.

Missouri Green Schools Baseline Self-Assessment
In an effort to encourage holistic integration of school sustainability practices and better connect the Green Schools Quest with it’s sister program,
Missouri Green Schools (MGS), the MGS Baseline Self-Assessment has been introduced as a new tool. This assessment takes about 30 minutes to complete and earns schools in the Traditional track 5 points or schools in the Adapted track a bonus raffle entry.

101+ Ways to Green Your School
Perhaps your school already has a project in mind. If not, this list of ways to green your school can help you to generate ideas. Financial investment, age group, and impact areas are identified for each project listed.

Resource List
This compilation of local, regional, and national resources includes a number of non-profit organizations to consider reaching out to for assistance, and more.

Connect on the Quest
Connect on the Quest is a monthly virtual gathering centered on providing Green Schools Quest participants with opportunities to connect with each other and learn together. It is also open to educators who are not yet participating, but would like to learn about the program and sustainability projects taking place in area schools.

This year’s Connect on the Quest will be more of a themed speakers series. Each kicks off with two GSQ schools sharing updates on their projects. Then, a handful of organizations will present on resources they offer to support schools in their green schools endeavors. All are welcome! Events take place from 4:30-5:30pm.

Mentor Meet-Ups
We are hosting two virtual Mentor Meet-Ups for Mentors in the Green Schools Quest. Attendance is optional. These will be an opportunity to: Share updates on your project with fellow mentors, Learn about the progress other school/mentor teams are making, Seek suggestions/resources from fellow mentors if needed, and Provide general input on the program.

GSQ Educators Guide to Education for Sustainability
This Educators’ Guide aims to enhance the connection between Green Schools Quest projects and school curriculum. Many quality materials exist to support Education for Sustainability (EfS) and whole-school sustainability. This guide highlights a handful of go-to resources to get you started. Inside you’ll find:

  • Introductory guides to EfS concepts and practices.
  • Frameworks for applying the ‘Lens of Sustainability’ to your work.
  • Professional Development opportunities that incorporate all three core areas that are commonly used to define a ‘green school.’
  • Green Schools Frameworks, Programs, and Recognitions that can help your school chart a path towards whole-school sustainability.

Tips for Spreading the Good Green Word
One of the most important green actions you can take is to share what you learn with others. This document provides ten tips to help you spread the word about your efforts to green your school. Consider sharing your progress on social media, and tagging USGBC-MO Gateway! #GreenSchoolsQuest

2021-22 Focus of the Year: Health & Wellness

Each year, USGBC-MGC designates a particular theme as the Focus of the Year. Themes are selected to reflect current issues both locally and globally.

The actions of individuals, organizations, and communities affect not only the planet, but also human health. Green Schools can be powerful promoters of health and well-being. Improving health and wellness addresses physical, emotional, and social issues students and their communities may be facing.

Factors that contribute to improved health and wellness fall into seven broad areas of sustainability. These include indoor and outdoor air quality, access to clean drinking water, access to nutritious food, exposure to natural light throughout the day, comfortable indoor temperature and humidity, participation in regular physical activity, and habits and programs that support productivity, community, and mental health.

Our Green Schools Committee has created a resource guide with Health & Wellness project ideas and resources:

Examples of Past Projects


Brief Project Summaries: 

2019-20 | 2018-19 | 2017-18 | 2016-17 | 2015-16 | 2014-15 | 2013-14


Past Winning Submissions:


Map of GSQ Participants (2013-14 through 2020-21)

While the immediate impact of these projects may result in energy/water savings, cleaner air, or healthier learning environments, USGBC-Missouri Gateway hopes that the Green Schools Quest will strengthen relationships between schools and the community.  We also hope to create a lasting awareness of the importance of green schools, and catalyze a movement that fosters an attitude among youth and future generations to appreciate and model sustainable practices.

The goal of the Green Schools Quest is to inspire each school to implement projects that achieve several of the following impacts:

  • Reduce carbon footprint
  • Lower school operating & maintenance costs
  • Conserve our natural resources
  • Improve the learning & teaching environment
  • Encourage students to think creatively about sustainability
  • Promote environmental stewardship in our communities
  • Increase facilities indoor air quality
  • Energize sustainable curriculum in the school systems
  • Encourage the school to be the community epicenter
  • Create a generation of environmentally conscious adults
  • Engage the business community and building industry to help students green their schools

Green Apple Day of Service – USGBC-MGC’s Green Schools Quest is part of this global initiative spearheaded by USGBC’s Center for Green Schools

This project is supported by the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Green Building Council as well as USGBC-MGC 2017-18 Green Schools Champion Sponsors: Ameren Missouri and St. Louis County Department of Public Health,  and Green Schools Supporter Sponsors: Innovative Technology Education Fund and Trane .


or (314) 577-0225.