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August 26, 2015

A New Era

“The best and most necessary work for our age involves in a thousand ways the recalibration of humanity’s values, institutions, behaviors, and expectations with those of the Earth. This is the task of education in our time.” — David W. Orr

At the 2016 Summit, keynote speaker Noel Perry, the founder of Next 10, offered insight into green innovation in California and the scope of the challenges and opportunities that await today’s students as a result of climate change. Photo: David McNew for Green Technology.

The 2017 Summit will mark the eleventh anniversary of the nation’s first statewide green schools event. Much has changed since the first Summit.

Expectations for high-performance schools have continued to rise. In 2007, the question was whether building “green” could be accomplished at a cost similar to traditional building. Today, some are making the case that Zero Net Energy need not cost more if the right team is involved.

An historic period of new school construction has passed, and the focus has shifted to school improvements and renovations. The “green” requirements of building and energy codes have continued to become more rigorous.

As progress has been made in building efficiency, more attention has gone onto other aspects of school sustainability – student engagement, environmental literacy, connections to jobs in an emerging green economy, garden and lunch programs.

Most recently, changing priorities at the federal level have heightened the importance of California leadership in environmental protection. State officials have been vocal regarding their intention not to waiver from their goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Schools play a vital role in these efforts, from ensuring that their buildings model sustainability for students and the community to responding to Board of Education mandates to incorporate principles of environmental literacy in their curriculum.

The Summit offers a unique opportunity to engage with leaders and stakeholders from all corners of this “ecosystem.” It’s certain that the 2017 conference will be energized by a heightened sense of purpose, energy and accomplishment.