Green Schools Challenge

Green Schools Challenge image

The KPS Green Schools Challenge (GSC) involves completing various activities over the course of the school year that promotes environmental responsibility. The challenges/activities focus on the education and engagement of staff, students and administration. A significant aspect of the GSC entails encouraging and providing ongoing opportunities for students to be actively involved.

The district makes resources available throughout the school year to help schools complete the activities. Recognition and incentives are built into the program.

The GSC runs from September - April. In May, awards and incentives will be announced.

2018 - 2019 Program Overview 

The Green Schools Challenge (GSC) program continues in 2018-2019 as a behavior-based energy conservation and sustainability program. As in previous years, the GSC is a voluntary program that is designed to provide guidance, resources, and support to KPS Green Team Champions. It includes monthly “challenges” (i.e., activities) and provides ample opportunity for student involvement. This year’s subject areas take a broader look at sustainability by incorporating issues such as waste, local foods and water quality in addition to energy conservation.

The 2018-2019 program offers monthly topics with example activities, along with plenty of flexibility throughout the year for Green Teams to design their own activities. The activities are intended to engage administrators, staff, and students. Activities can be discussions in the classroom, after-school activities, or hands-on projects. The district encourages schools to use the program's flexibility to complete activities that work best for their school. The Guidance documents provide activity suggestions and resources and a link to the Activity Reporting Form.

Click here for a description of this years' program.

Monthly Themes and Guidance Documents 

The Green Schools Initiative provides a guidance document that includes activity examples/suggestions and resources for each semester. However, schools are NOT required to complete the activities suggested. Schools are encouraged to complete activities that work best for their school. 

September: Lights Out (click to download Guidance Document)

Everyone knows that turning off lights when they are not needed saves energy, but most of us still need reminders! Lights left on for long periods of time, particularly in large spaces like gyms, use a great deal of energy, which costs the school district money that could be spent on education instead. The Green Schools Challenge focus for September is to turn the lights out!

October: Recycling (click to download Guidance Document)                                                                                                               

 KPS has been recycling for a long time, and your Green Team are likely already pros at it. Recycling, however, is more complicated than most people think, and many people are confused about what is recyclable and what is not. This month’s suggested activities let you dive into the issue a little deeper, and help educate your peers to recycle right. 

Download this Diversion Rate Calculator (Excel format) to help with one of the sample activities this month.


Volunteers recycle packaging wasteRecycling materials is important, but what’s also important is to reduce the amount of materials we use in the first place. Every so often it’s helpful to take a look at our habits and see if there are opportunities to make a few simple changes that will reduce the amount of waste we generate. This month’s activity gives you the opportunity to teach students about our current global waste problem, and gives you resources for taking action at your school.




As the holiday season approaches, many of us are beginning to think about “stuff” - what’s the latest “cool stuff,” what’s the stuff we’d like to have, and what’s the stuff we’d like to give. In the month of December, millions of products are purchased all over the world. But what’s underneath all that shiny new packaging? Have your students ever thought about what went in to manufacturing all those holiday gifts, and what will happen to them when they are no longer used? The assessment of the life of a product is called life cycle analysis, and this month there are a few suggested activities to help your students begin to think about this important topic.


We started off the 2018-2019 school year with a “Lights Out” campaign to encourage energy conservation, and since it’s so important, we’re starting off the spring semester the same way! Lights left on for long periods of time, particularly in large spaces like gyms, use a great deal of energy, which costs the school district money that could be spent on education instead. This month’s challenge is to dig a little deeper to identify ways to turn off non-security lights in unoccupied areas at your school.



With Spring on the way, many of us are beginning to look forward to the tasty fruits and vegetables that will soon be available from our local farmstands. With a quick trip to the supermarket, or even our cafeteria, we can find nearly anything we want, but there are no banana trees, orange trees, or pineapples growing nearby. Have your students thought about where this food comes from? What crops do Nebraskans grow, and what effect does that have on our local food availability? What is an agricultural hardiness zone, and how does that influence what we can grow?



Does the blustery weather have you thinking about wind? Nebraska is fortunate to have some of the highest wind potential in the United States, and high levels of solar potential. Wind and solar power offer two of the most productive alternative sources of energy to power Nebraskan homes, businesses, schools, and even our vehicles. Development of these two energy sources is booming both in Nebraska and across the United States. (Photo caption: This 72 kilowatt Village of Walthill Community Solar System is located on the north side of Walthill and is the first community project on the Omaha Indian Reservation. Credit: Graham Christensen, President of GC ReVOLT.)


Most of Nebraska sits on top of the High Plains Aquifer, a massive region of groundwater that spans parts of eight states. In some areas, groundwater can span over 1200 feet underground– nearly double the height of the tallest building in our state! This aquifer supplies drinking and household water to thousands of Nebraskans, and also supplies water that is used for irrigation and manufacturing. However, certain practices can contaminate drinking water with industrial and agricultural pollutants, which forces villages and cities to either invest in costly measures to clean their water, or bring in water from further away. Protecting groundwater from contamination is a key concern in Nebraska. This month’s activities are designed to teach students about the important connection between water quality and our wellbeing.

May: Feedback and Recognition 

Guidance Documents for each month will be added to this web page over the course of the year.


GSC Recognition & Incentive Levels:

Schools achieve these recognition & incentive levels by completing challenges/activities and earning participation points. The recognition & incentive levels consist of the following:

  • Level 1 (Green Performance) - Participation in five activities.
    Receive a framed certificate of recognition and $50 for Green Team Activities next year and $100 for the Principal’s budget.

  • Level 2 (Green Achievement)- Participation in six to nine activities.
    Receive $150 for Green Team activities next year and a small award banner and $200 for the Principal’s budget.

  • Level 3 (Green Excellence) - Participation in ten or more activities.
    Receive $300 for Green Team activities next year and a large award banner and $400 for the Principal’s budget.
    All schools that achieve Level 3 participation are placed into a raffle; the selected school receives $450 to spend on district-approved items. Approved items could entail smart power strips, vending machine energy misers, native landscaping/trees, rain barrels, native plants for classrooms, and indoor/outdoor recycling containers. All items must be approved by the district prior to purchase.

Feedback Form & Tracking

To track how many activities are completed by each school, we ask that Green Teams submit this Activity Reporting Form each time they have an activity to report. The last day to submit activities for the 2018–2019 school year is Monday, April 22nd. 

This year, submitting photos of your activities will count toward recognition levels. Please send them via email to

The district will email activity updates to KPS Green Team Champions and Principals each month. 


What is the purpose of the Green Schools Challenge?

The Green Schools Challenge is a program designed to engage schools in resource-responsible behaviors and activities through learning, communication, and behavior change. This program is also intended to help the District meet its sustainability goals

Is the Green Schools Challenge mandatory?  

No, the Green Schools Challenge is a completely voluntary program. However, this program is designed to help your school conserve resources and engage staff and students, which has numerous benefits.  

What can my school earn by participating in the Green Schools Challenge?

The Green Schools Challenge has three tiers of recognition and awards. To reach the highest tier, schools need to complete ten or more activities a year. To earn credit, the Activity Reporting Form needs to be filled out.

Who participates in the Green Schools Challenge?

Anyone! Activities can be completed by principals, staff, or students. Many groups can be brought together to complete activities for the GSC. See the September Guidance Document and the October Guidance Document for example activities. 

How can I participate in the Green Schools Challenge?

You can participate in the Green Schools Challenge in a variety of ways. You can join your school's Green Team, complete an activity to earn your school participation points, or help another staff member complete an activity. 

Does the District provide resources to help my school complete activities?  

Yes, the monthly guidance documents provide resources to complete the example activities and overall resources that are helpful. Additionally, participants are offered a membership to the USGBC Learning Lab. If your school would like to use these resources, please contact for your school's membership.  

What activities do I need to complete to earn recognition and awards?

You are invited to design activities that work for your group and your school. Monthly guidance documents are provided with suggested activities that you may complete if you wish. Ideally, activities will engage school occupants in resource efficient behaviors or learn about sustainability issues. If you have any questions about if an activity applies, please contact

Contact us

 For any unanswered questions and/or if you would like to discuss the KPS Green Schools Challenge in further detail, please contact