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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 5, 2019

St. Louis-Area Students Champion Sustainability in the USGBC-Missouri Gateway’s 2019–2020 Green Schools Quest

St. Louis, Missouri – At a time when many municipalities in the St. Louis region are looking for ways to design more sustainable communities, local leaders might be unaware of an exciting annual event that is working to achieve that very goal. The Green Schools Quest, now in its seventh year, challenges students from across the region to lessen their own environmental impact, as well as that of their schools and communities.

The U.S. Green Building Council-Missouri Gateway Chapter (USGBC-MGC) invites schools at all levels—pre-K, elementary, middle, and high school—to register for this year’s challenge. Registration is open until September 15. The Quest itself kicks off on October 1 and lasts through early March.

In March, each school will submit its project documentation to a national panel of expert judges, who will choose the top three projects in elementary, middle school, and high school categories. They also will recognize schools in five other categories: Rookie of the Year, Sustainability Champion, Judges’ Choice, Innovation, and Focus of the Year.

Although not required, schools can choose to design projects around the theme selected as Focus of the Year. For the 2019–2020, that focus will be environmental justice. Chosen by popular vote at last year’s awards ceremony, environmental justice “embraces the idea that all of us are equally responsible for caring for our planet and that no group of people should be unfairly affected by unsustainable environmental practices.”

“We live in a world that is increasingly connected on a global scale,” says Hope Gribble, education and green schools manager for USGBC-MGC. “The theme of environmental justice encourages students to look through the lenses of environment and equity to make connections between how actions taken by one group of people, businesses, or countries can unfairly impact others with negative environmental consequences.”

Each participating school will be provided with a timeline and a list of potential project ideas, as well as a mentor to help with project selection and implementation. Gribble emphasizes that projects do not have to be all-encompassing. “Even seemingly small actions can have big impacts with rippling effects,” she says.

Here are just a few examples of projects students completed for last year’s challenge:

·      - “Green Machine Begins Recycling” – Grand Center Arts Academy, located in the Grand Center arts district, started the year with no recycling program and misused bins. By the end of the Green Schools Quest, students in the ‘Green Machine’ elective class implemented a fully functioning recycling program run by 18 middle school students.

·       -  “Rise of the Compost Captains” – The pre-school students at Kirkwood Early Childhood Center participated in a program that diverted more than 9,000 pounds of food from landfills over the course of the challenge.

·      -  “One Size Fits None: Energy Efficiency” – Sixteen students at Crossroads Elementary School in the Wentzville School District conducted an energy audit at their school and organized a competition to encourage the school’s community to reduce energy use.

·       -  “Ecology Fair” – Students at Herculaneum High School hosted a community event to raise awareness about environmental issues across six categories: trees/plants, water, energy, recycling, global issues, and positive behavioral changes.

Several schools in the Parkway Schools District have participated for several years running. “The Green Schools Quest has provided an excellent opportunity for students to engage in project-based learning,” says Erik Lueders, Parkway’s sustainability and purchase director. Parkway has been embracing sustainability for nearly three decades, via recycling, energy conservation, and green building initiatives. “Over the years, we have worked to continually improve in as many areas of sustainability as possible,” says Lueders. “ The Green Schools Quest has helped provide a greater connection to students through this work.”

Last year, more than 3,200 students from 59 schools participated, with projects that ranged from recycling and composting programs to efforts to reduce energy and water use. Their projects collectively impacted more than 33,800 additional students, faculty, staff, and community members. Over the past seven years, 143 schools have participated—many for multiple years. According to the chapter, 21,388 students have participated in the Green Schools Quest projects since the program launched in 2013.

Beyond the immediate impact of these students’ efforts—whether measured in pounds of waste diverted from landfills or in natural resources conserved—the Green Schools Quest also encourages local schools to integrate sustainability into their curricula. “We want to empower students to look through the lens of sustainability and think creatively about challenges and opportunities that exist within their schools that they can take meaningful action towards improving, while helping to strengthen relationships between schools and the community,” Gribble says.

There’s still time for area schools and teachers to register for this year’s Green Schools Quest, she adds. “No matter where your starting place, you are in the perfect position to advance sustainability in your school!”

Find more information, read about past winners, and complete registration at

To arrange interviews or gather more information, please contact:

Tricia Bisoux

Member, USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Green Schools Committee

Phone: 314-579-9176  |  Email:

Twitter: @USGBCMoGateway, #GreenSchoolsQuest

Other photos  available in JPEG format on request.

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