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!

2020-21 Registration (Deadline extended!)

SCHOOL REGISTRATION >  Register by September 30th to receive the monthly challenge resources, become eligible to participate in the cash drawings, and be a part of the collective movement towards sustainable schools.

MENTOR REGISTRATION >  Register by September 30th to be assigned to a participating school. All mentors will provide support to their schools virtually.

Click here to download the 2020-21 Green Schools Quest flyer!

Click here to learn more about a webinar being offered on Sept 23 (5-6pm) that will outline the 2020-21 format and themes, and provide an opportunity for Q&A.

COVID-19 Adaptations: A Reimagined Green Schools Quest

As schools throughout the region adapt to the impact of COVID-19, USGBC-MGC recognizes that the upcoming school year will present many challenges and uncertainties for students, parents, and teachers. With that in mind, the chapter invites schools to “Continue the Quest!” for a more sustainable community by taking part in a completely reimagined six-month challenge. Adaptations for 2020-21 include:

  • Format will shift to six, theme-based monthly sustainability challenges (instead of one comprehensive six-month long project as participants have done in the past).
  • Challenges will be flexible, curriculum-friendly, and suitable whether students are attending courses in person or online.
  • Overarching focus will be on integrating sustainability into students’ learning. This can take place through action projects (large or small) and/or by exploring existing curriculum through the perspective of a sustainability principle.
  • Schools may participate in as many or as few of the monthly challenges as desired.
  • For each challenge, schools will be invited to share the results of their work via short, streamlined submissions.
  • Formal judging will not take place in 2020-21.
  • All participating schools that share submission materials will be entered into drawings for cash prizes.
  • Mentors will provide support virtually.

2020-21 Timeline

September 23, 2020 | 5 – 6 pmOPTIONAL WEBINAR: Continue the Quest! A Primer on the 2020-21 Format and Themes
September 30, 2020 (Extended!) – Deadline for schools and mentors to register
October 2020 – March 2021 – Participating schools work with their Green Mentors to engage in monthly sustainability challenges
January & April 2021 – Cash prizes announced (awarded to participants who are drawn at random)

Monthly Challenges

Rather than complete comprehensive six-month projects, as Green Schools Quest participants have done in the past, for the 2020-21 school year, participating schools are invited to integrate sustainability into students’ learning through the lens of a monthly theme.

Monthly themes are intended to be open-ended and adaptable. Ultimately, schools may implement any sustainability-related project or activity they would like – whether large or small, in a school setting or at home, related to any subject matter. The monthly theme simply asks schools to explore how their work (an action project and/or existing curricula) can be viewed through the lens of sustainability. 

Each theme represents a principle outlined in the Rainbow of Sustainability, a framework and tool for applying the lens of sustainability to curriculum developed by Lori Diefenbacher of Webster University.

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

Click here to learn more about the Rainbow of Sustainability principles.

Students and teachers are invited to use their creativity to interpret and apply each theme according to the specific needs they observe in their classrooms and communities. 

On the first of every month from October 2020 through March 2021, USGBC-MGC will prompt participants to focus on applying that month’s theme to their work. Project ideas and resources will be provided, and schools will be encouraged to share their progress with other participants to cultivate collaboration, spark new ideas, and collectively celebrate the integration of sustainability into students’ learning across our region. 

Included each month will be ideas for integrating our 2020–21 Focus of the Year: Health & Wellness (detailed below).

Green Mentors

As in the past, we will assign each school a Green Mentor who will provide information, help, and encouragement as needed. To abide by local social distancing measures, mentors will largely interact with schools by phone, email, and video conferencing. 

Connecting Schools & Celebrating Progress

This year, the USGBC-MGC also wants to emphasize a greater sense of community and connection among the members of the Green Schools community. At the end of each month, the chapter will invite students and teachers at participating schools to share the results of their work toward each challenge. These submissions can be in the form of brief written descriptions, photos, drawings, or other media. Schools also will be invited to submit ideas that might help other schools on their own sustainability journeys. The USGBC-MGC will highlight these results and ideas on our website and on social media.

Cash Prizes

In lieu of judging, all participating schools that share submission materials will be entered into drawings for cash prizes. Drawings will take place in January 2021 (half-way through) and in April 2021 (after the final challenge concludes.)

2020-21 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 2020-21 theme is Health & Wellness.

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:

2019-20 Winners Projects & Collective Impact

Click here to view a special page dedicated to highlighting the 2019-20 Winners, Participants, Projects, and Collective Impact!

Past Winning Submissions

Project Examples

Click on the following links to learn about the wide variety of projects that have taken place over the last six years: 2018-192017-18, 2016-17, 2015-162014-15, 2013-14


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

2019-20 Resources for Participants

Resources for 2020-21 will be added Summer 2020.

Resources listed below are also accessible via Google Drive.

2019-20 Focus of the Year: Environmental Justice
Schools have the OPTION of following this particular focus to qualify for consideration for an additional award (schools are not penalized if they choose not to focus on the annual theme.) To be considered for the ‘Focus of the Year’ award, schools must submit 150 words or less describing how their project relates to the area of focus (2019-20 Focus is Environmental Justice) on their online final submission form.Our Green Schools Committee has compiled a list of Environmental Justice project ideas and resources which we encourage you to check out and consider – click here to view this resource.

School Sustainability Tracking Survey
This survey serves as a tool to add broader context to schools’ Green Schools Quest projects and can also be used as a guide for project selection. The survey aims to build awareness of holistic measures schools can take to chart a path towards whole-school sustainability. Material in the survey relates directly to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s school application for the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award programWhile we request this survey be completed online, a PDF of the form is available here for reference.

Scoring Rubric
Project submissions will be evaluated by a panel of impartial judges utilizing this scoring rubric. Considerations include measured performance, project documentation, perpetuation, creativity, communication, and whole-school sustainability awareness.

Online Final Submission Form 
Final Submissions will be submitted via an online form. This form collects basic school/project information and key measurables such as number of students/faculty/community members impacted and resources saved. It also includes fields to upload additional final submission documents, including:

  • 1-2 page written report
  • Maximum 5 minute video or digital presentation
  • Photo release forms
  • School Sustainability Tracking Survey

Photo Releases
A photo release for every student in the digital presentation must be submitted.  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 the school’s submission.

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.

NEW: 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.

Milestone Schedule
This is a resource that you’ll want to keep handy and refer to often. The Milestone Schedule provides a month-by-month outline of key actions and considerations for your project.

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

Tips for Small Scale Video and Documentation
At the conclusion of the Green Schools Quest, school teams will submit a digital presentation which can be in the form of a PowerPoint, Prezi , video (maximum 5 minutes) or other digital medium, in addition to the online submission form, 1-2 page report, School Sustainability Tracking Survey, and photo releases. This document outlines tips for video and digital documentation, including suggestions for editing software, royalty-free music and basics like fonts and transitions.

Green Building Educational Pieces
Two short (20-30 minute) lessons have been developed to help participating students better understand green building. The first is an introduction to the concept of green building and how it applies to a school setting. This piece is intended to be delivered by the Green Mentor. The second is focused on teaching students about the different parts of a building and how they interact, as well as the environmental impacts of constructing and operating buildings. The second piece is an optional, supplemental activity that would ideally be led by a school teacher.

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

2018-19 Winners

Elementary Category
1st – Kirkwood Early Childhood Center
2nd – Highcroft Ridge Elementary (Parkway)
3rd – Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School

Middle School Category
1st – Forsyth School
2nd TIE –Nipher Middle School (Kirkwood)
2nd TIE – North Kirkwood Middle School
3rd – Grand Center Arts Academy (Confluence)

High School Category
1st – Kirkwood High School
2nd – Herculaneum High School
3rd – Jennings Senior High

Rookie of the Year (TIE) – Hazelwood West Middle School & McKinley Classical Leadership Academy (St. Louis Public)

Sustainability Champion – Little Flower Catholic School

Focus of the Year (Energy) – Crossroads Elementary (Wentzville)

Judges Choice – Brown Elementary (Hazelwood)

Innovation – St. Margaret of Scotland

Click here to see final documentation from 2018-19 winning submissions

Click here to view a brief description of each project that submitted final documentation.

Nearly 60 school/mentor teams are participating in the 2018-19 Green Schools Quest. Click here to see who!

2017-18 Winners

Elementary Category
1st Place – East Elementary School (Alton, IL)
2nd Place – Carver Elementary School
3rd Place -Ritenour Center for Gifted Education

Middle School Category
1st Place – North Kirkwood Middle School
2nd Place TIE -Forsyth School
2nd Place TIE – Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School
3rd Place – Premier Charter School

High School Category
1st Place – Kirkwood High School
2nd Place– St. Joseph’s Academy
3rd Place – Hazelwood West High School

Rookie of the Year – Bourbon High School

Sustainability Champion – W.W. Keysor Elementary

Focus of the Year: Community Engagement – Kirkwood High School

Judge’s Choice – Mann Elementary

Innovation – St. Louis University High School

Click here to view the final documentation from the 2017-18 winning submissions!

Playlists of past videos submitted through YouTube are available here.

Click here to view a brief description of each 2017-18 Project Submission!

Thanks to all 57 school/mentor teams that participated in the 2017-18 Green Schools Quest! Click here to view a list of participants.

2016-17 Winners

GSQ 2016-17 WinnersElementary School Category
1st Place– Westchester Elementary (Kirkwood School District)
2nd Place – Christ Community Lutheran School
3rd Place – Christ, Prince of Peace
3rd Place – Sunrise R-IX Elementary (Desoto, MO)

Middle School Category
1st Place– Rogers Middle School (Affton School District)
2nd Place – Forsyth School
2nd Place – Marian Middle School
3rd Place – Thomas Jefferson Middle School (Jefferson City School District)
Honorable Mention – North Kirkwood Middle School

High School Category
1st Place– Kirkwood High School
2nd Place – Jennings Senior High School
2nd Place – Principia Upper School
3rd Place – Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience (SLPS)
Honorable Mention – Soldan International Studies (SLPS)

Kudos to all 47 participating school and mentor teams! 

2015-16 Winners

1st Place – Hancock Place Elementary School
2nd Place – East Elementary in the Alton School District
3rd Place – City Garden Montessori

1st Place – North Kirkwood Middle School
2nd Place – Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School
3rd Place – Crossroads College Preparatory School
Honorable Mention – Forsyth School
Honorable Mention – Little Flower Catholic School

1st Place – Nottingham Community Access Job Training High School
2nd Place – Governor French Academy
3rd Place – St. Louis University High School

Click here to view the final documentation from the 2015-16 winning submissions!

Click here to view a brief description of each 2015-16 Project Submission!

GSQ 2014-15 Winners2014-15 PROJECTS

Final Documentation from 2014-15 Winning Submissions

Brief Description of each 2014-15 Project Submission

2013-14 PROJECTS

Final Documentation from 2013-14 Winning Submissions

Brief Description of each 2013-14 Project Submission

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.