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Cool School Challenge Background

How does the Challenge work?

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:

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  • 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 energy audit again after taking action
  • Calculate how much the school reduced carbon emissions and share results
  • Apply for an Eco-Schools USA bronze award!

What is the history behind the Cool School Challenge?

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.

Why should my school consider taking the Challenge?

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

How do I use the Challenge to apply for a bronze level award through Eco-Schools USA?

Upon completing the Challenge your school will automatically qualify for a bronze level award through Eco-Schools USA. Visit our awards page to learn how your school can apply for a bronze award and our pathways page to learn about other ways you can take action to green your school.

Make sure that you keep all of your Challenge materials in a safe place in case you decide to apply for an award through the Eco-Schools USA program. Documentation is key, especially when applying for the Green Flag award. Therefore it is very important to keep your Challenge materials in a safe and secure location. Easy access to these materials will make the application process a breeze!

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