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Cool School Challenge

The Cool School Challenge engages students and teachers in practical strategies to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions school-wide.

Students challenge individual classrooms to reduce their carbon emissions over a set period of time, and utilize a carbon calculator to evaluate progress.

With the guidance of a Challenge Coach, student teams learn how to conduct a classroom energy audit, and identify major sources of CO2 emissions and opportunities for shrinking them. The process aligns with the Eco-Schools USA Seven Step Framework, and involves the following steps:

  • Establish a student-led team to implement the Challenge
  • Recruit classrooms to participate
  • Conduct a classroom energy audit
  • Create a plan to reduce emissions
  • Encourage classrooms to sign a carbon reduction pledge
  • Link efforts to classroom curriculum
  • Conduct the post-action energy audit
  • Calculate how much the school reduced carbon emissions and share results

The Cool School Challenge was developed in 2006 by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in collaboration with Redmond High School environmental science teacher Mike Town, and Puget Sound Energy’s Powerful Choices for the Environment program.

Conceptually modeled after the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement, the Cool School Challenge aims to motivate students, teachers, and school districts to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. In 2009 the program received a Clean Air Excellence Award from the U.S. EPA, and in 2012 the program was transferred over to the National Wildlife Federation and incorporated into the Eco-Schools USA program.

The Cool School Challenge is a great option for schools wanting to cut carbon emissions and reduce energy use through a structured, step-by-step process. The Challenge implementation guide below provides detailed information on how schools can complete the Challenge over a 40-day time period.


Implement the Cool School Challenge at your school using the materials below.