Recap: The School Facilities and Capital Planning track at GSC

Published on: 
Friday, March 24, 2023
Phoebe Beierle

The 2023 Green Schools Conference convened over 400 people in New Orleans, Feb. 27–Mar. 1, and provided attendees with much-needed space to reconnect and reenergize.

Attendees kicked off the conference in four unique cohort tracks, designed to provide specialized programing and networking opportunities with like-minded peers. The School Facilities and Capital Planning track brought together over 80 staff in school and school district facilities, environmental health, sustainability, and capital planning, from 50 different institutions from across the U.S. Attendees of this track are all actively working to create programs, policies and practices to promote sustainable and healthy operations, curriculum and organizational change across their school systems.

What attendees were excited to talk about

The 1.5-day program included a mix of leadership and program design workshops, networking breaks, industry resource highlights from sponsors and other leading organizations, and peer-to-peer best-practice presentations developed and delivered by attendees.

Some of the topics discussed that spurred the most conversation among attendees were

  • Road maps for decarbonizing existing buildings.
  • Construction waste management strategies.
  • Leveraging internal and external partnerships for greater impact.
  • Understanding tax provisions from the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • Developing a climate action plan that prioritizes equity.
  • Effectively measuring and communicating environmental health metrics.
  • Collaborating with and supporting student activists.
  • Microgrids for climate resilience.
  • Indoor air quality monitoring and improvement strategies.

A man raises his hand while other attendees look on.

An attendee shares thoughts during program closing session. Photo credit: Zac Smith.

What attendees are saying

  • “The conference as a whole made me feel very empowered and motivated. I am truly grateful for this awesome group of individuals.” —Track attendee
  • “I feel a part of a community now, and have many more resources at my disposal. I truly enjoyed all your company and partnership.” —Track attendee
  • It was a great experience where I learned a ton from school districts in attendance and had a lot of fruitful conversations." —Track sponsor

What attendees are leaving with and acting on

At the close of the program, attendees gathered in a full community circle to share “aha” moments and actions to accomplish upon return to their schools or districts. They shared feeling

  • Empowered that they are not alone in this work, which can often feel isolating on a day-to-day basis.
  • That the presentations and networking “refueled” them to keep fighting the good fight back home for more sustainable schools.
  • Inspired by the expertise and passion among the group, so that they will be getting involved more with their school’s sustainability team to have a greater impact.  
  • Appreciative of the connections made between sustainability, healthy schools and indoor air quality.
  • Motivated to set up meetings to stay in touch with their peers and new connections made at the conference.

Read more about the conference