green design lab


The Green Design Lab is a guide for greening your school building integrating core concepts of science, technology, engineering and math into a comprehensive curriculum and workforce development program.


STEM-based Education




Workforce Development




Green Schools


The Green Design Lab is uniquely positioned to explore the interdisciplinary concepts of a STEM-based approach to learning while also attending to environmental and communitybased issues facing many schools.
The program’s framework provides educators a project-based and experiential approach to learning while attending to the increasingly important need for ecological literacy and job readiness in many emerging green jobs fields. The Green Design Lab focuses on six content areas including materials, air quality, water, food, energy and recycling as a blueprint for applications in sustainable design, engineering and creative problem solving. Promoting collaboration and relevant critical thinking skills, The Green Design Lab situates core concepts of science, math and engineering in the immediate physical environment of the school building. The objective of the Green Design Lab is to equip students with a systems-thinking approach to problem solving using design and engineering as a focus to explore many different concepts of sustainability, technology and mathematics. Through the simple objective of making the school building more sustainable, students are empowered to embrace STEM concepts in a process of learning by doing. This framework naturally allows for crossdisciplinary applications that can easily flow across many boundaries while encouraging hands-on approaches to abstract concepts of ecology and systems thinking.

The Green Design Lab is a great way to integrate green workforce development opportunities for students by responding to the green building needs of the school or nearby community.
By coupling many of the core engineering, math and science concepts with experience in the field – the depth and value of learning increases exponentially for both student and educator. A myriad of extensions are possible including training in: • Building Performance – A track that introduces students to the concept and practice of energy efficiency, including methods for assessing the energy use of new and existing buildings, and techniques for retrofitting buildings to increase energy efficiency. • Photovoltaic Installation – A track that teaches the science and mechanics of photovoltaic (PV) systems, provides students with hands-on installation experience, and exposes them to current information on grid-interconnection, netmetering, and rebates. • Horticulture and Sustainable Landscaping – A track that teaches how to plant and maintain sustainable urban forests and grasslands, and how to conduct research and promote the many benefits of sustainable greenery. • Deconstruction and Recycling – A track that teaches the skills required for closed-loop waste reduction demolition by extracting and saving building materials for reuse.

The Green Design Lab is an excellent compliment to the NYC School Construction Authorities’ Green Schools Guide.
Each section of the Green Design Lab will correlate to recommendations presented in the SCA Guide allowing educators and school administrators to easily integrate lessons about each focus area with the Guide’s recommendations based on the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system. Tips and recommendations on student-led projects, renovations and ideas for new construction will be included alongside general lesson plans and background information on each focus area covered in the Green Design Lab. A brief primer for educators will also be included to summarize the core objectives of the SCA Guide while introducing some pedagogical and learning goals.

Content Areas
Energy Materials
The Materials Unit provides an introduction to green design and sustainable materials that could be integrated into the design of your school building. A background will be supplied for students to understand the basics of how most schools are constructed and how this impacts their local communities and environment. Green Schools Guide Extension Materials (Efficient Materials Use, Sustainable Materials) Green Jobs Extension Deconstruction and Materials Salvaging, Building Performance The Energy Unit will focus on energy use and efficiency in your school building. Students will be encouraged to think critically about how their school building consumes and uses energy and the resultant impacts this production/use has on their local community and environment. Green Schools Guide Extension Energy (Energy Efficiency, HVAC Optimization, Green Power), Indoor Air Quality (Daylighting), Optional (Renewable Energy) Green Jobs Extension PV Installation and Maintenance; Building Performance (Energy Efficiency and Retrofits, Heat vs. Electricity)

green design lab


Air Quality
This Unit will focus on issues related to indoor air quality and health inside school buildings. A number of environmental and health issues will be presented to students with an aim to facilitate critical thinking about how to address issues related to air quality. Green Schools Guide Extension Indoor Air Quality (All) Green Jobs Extension Building Performance (Mold Prevention and Safety) ; PV Installation (Pollution Control)

In this Unit we will explore issues related to food, how it gets to your school and the environmental impacts of this process. Students will be encouraged to investigate the source of their food and consider alternative ways of creating a more sustainable and local food system for their school. Green Schools Guide Extension Site (Development Density and Community Connectivity), Materials (Storage and Collection of Recyclables), Optional (Green Roof) Green Jobs Extension Horticulture and Sustainable Landscaping

Recycling and Waste Water
The Water Unit will concentrate on wateruse and conservation. Students will be encouraged to think about how water is used in their school, where it comes from, where it goes and asked to create original designs that can help conserve and use water in innovative ways. Green Schools Guide Extension Water (Outdoor and Indoor Systems) Green Jobs Extension Building Performance; Deconstruction – recycling old sinks/pipes etc.

The Recycling and Waste Unit will explore ways in which your students can take the lead and start thinking creatively about how to implement and maintain a functional recycling system. They will also be shown how to educate others about the need to reduce their overall consumption. Green Schools Guide Extension Materials (Storage and Collection of Recyclables, Building Reuse, Construction Waste Management, Recycled Content, Regional Materials etc.) Green Jobs Extension Deconstruction and Materials Salvage

Material Development
Core Materials

green design lab


Student Guide
4Background Information (Quick Readers/Fact Sheets) 4Introduction, Materials, Energy, Food, Waste and Recycling, Air Quality, Water 4Worksheets (Design Process and for individual activities) 4Community/Family Connection Take Homes 4Green Jobs Extension Primer

Teacher’s Guide
4Core Content 4Background Information (Readers) 4Green Design/Sustainability Primer 4Hands-On Activities/Field Study 4Assessment 4Green Action Plan Guide

Professional Development
4Best Practices Guide: Teaching 4Strategies and Greening Your Curriculum (STEM integration) 4Powerpoint and Handouts 4Best Practices - Pedagogy 4Green School Guidelines Overview 4Green Jobs Overview

Green School Infrastructure Extension Using the NYC School Construction Authority Green Schools Guide as a template, a corresponding primer will be developed for each unit (1-2 pages per Unit). Green Jobs Extension A brief extension to connect each unit (food, materials, water etc.) to a relevant green job with suggested activities, descriptions and ideas on how to initiate a partnership for a more robust training program. (2-3 pages per Unit)


Elementary (K-5)

Middle (6-8)

High School (9-12)

Content Matrix







STEM Green School Green Jobs or Project

Approach and Delivery
Pedagogical Approach
4Project-Based Learning 4Experiential Learning 4Vocational Training 4Hands-On Learning (Design Education)

green design lab


Learning Objectives
4Systems and Design Thinking Skills Developed 4Workforce Development 4Creative Problem Solving 4Ecological Literacy/Sustainability Education

4Time/Length 6 Units (Unit Length – 2-3 Weeks Each) Delivery Components 4In-Classroom Activity/Learning 4Field Study/Hands-On Activity 4Green Jobs Training Extension

Standards Areas
4Science 4Engineering and Design 4Social Studies 4Mathematics 4Communications 4Technology 4Language Arts 4Health

Unit Components
What’s the Story? This first introductory section sets the stage for each topic, giving students background information and historical context on each issue providing key words and summaries. Helping to set the scene, students gain a broad knowledge of some key issues associated with topics like renewable energy and water quality. Let’s Take a Closer Look! This section prompts students to investigate and explore the hidden systems connected to each resource found in this focus area. The idea is to allow students to pose simple questions like “where does my water come from”? and “how does food get to my cafeteria”? They will then investigate further through hands-on activities, projects, research and field studies. This self-directed process allows students to gain a better appreciation for each focus area and take ownership of a space they use 5 days a week. We will guide them to think of ways to make this space more sustainable. Let’s ReThink! Finally, students are given the opportunity to be creative and to rethink how their school is designed and operates. Let’s ReThink provides students with valuable tools, applications, examples, and case studies to help inspire them to think differently about buildings and their systems. At the end of this section, students will have re-designed their building while addressing the issues in the particular focus area – all the while being encouraged to think about how all the issues interrelate.

Students designing hydroponic unit for City-As-School Greenhouse

City-As-School students visit rooftop farm in Greenpoint

Max holds up strawberry picked from Greenpoint’s first rooftop farm called BK1

City-As-School students visit NYC’s largest powerplant “Big Alice” in Long Island City

Students learn how to setup simple PV (Photovoltaic) module with compact fluorescent bulb Students help construct a mobile PV (Photovoltaic) charge station

Student helps create new floorplans for school classroom

Design & Engineering
Students prep materials for building performance retrofit Students visit Icestone a company that makes recycled tiles from old glass and other materials

Students inspect heating and cooling infrastructure on roof of Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day School

Waste & Air Quality
Building Performance and Energy Audit Supplies Students design new recycling signage to be placed around the school

Poster designed for waste reduction event at School

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