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Curriculum & Resources: Green Jobs and Green Buildings

Great Resources for Teaching from the January 2010 YES! Education Connection Newsletter.
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Jan 2010 newsletter snapshotRead the newsletter: Great Lessons on Green Schools and Low Impact Living

Lesson plans, hands-on activities, and award-winning projects on green building and economies will demonstrate to your students that there’s a better, sustainable, and just future that they can help build, shape, and design.

:: Ella Baker Center
:: U.S. Green Building Council

Logo of the Ella Baker Center Green Collar Jobs Campaign

Ella Baker Center

The Ella Baker Center offers a compelling collection of lessons plans that explore a green economy and eco-justice. We are pleased to feature two of these lessons. A just, green economy is one that reaches all communities. In a lesson on Eco-Privilege, students learn that while a growing, green economy has created products and services for sustainable lifestyles, they haven’t been available for all people or all communities. An introspective activity helps your students determine if they are beneficiaries of eco-privilege.

Creating cities that work for people and with nature is a challenge being taken on by communities all over the world. The "Model Cities & You" lesson plan spotlights model “green” cities–cities, such as Cruitba, Brazil, designed for both environmental and social health. Your students will learn about characteristics and accomplishments of green cities, and, perhaps, be inspired to help your city achieve this distinguished status.

Visit Ella Baker Green Collar Jobs Campaign for the complete set of lesson plans.

with this 2 minute video of Van Jones on Eco-Equity

Lesson One: Exploring Eco-Privilege

Photo of Eco-Equity sign, image courtesy of the Ella Baker Center

Thanks to the growing green economy, many people now have access to products and services for sustainable lifestyles. But many more do not. And often, those who enjoy such access do not realize that it is a privilege—a privilege denied to many others across the country.

In this activity, students use a self-assessment tool to examine if, and in what areas, they benefit from eco-privilege.

DOWNLOAD ACTIVITY: Exploring Eco-Privilege

Lesson Two: Model Cities and You

Photo by Andy Wright.
Photo by Andy Wright.

Creating cities that work for people and with nature is a challenge being taken on by communities all over the world. Cities from Curitiba, Brazil to Oakland, California are trying to become "Model Green Cities"—cities designed for both environmental and social health.

Each student group is assigned a "green city" that is taking a lead in environmental and social sustainability. After researching the characteristics and accomplishments of this city, each group makes a class presentation.

DOWNLOAD ACTIVITY: Model Cities and You

The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights is a strategy and action center working for justice, opportunity and peace in urban America, with an emphasis on positive alternatives to violence and incarceration. Justice, peace, and opportunity are the beacons that guide the work of this tenacious and innovative Oakland-based nonprofit and the base of its four campaigns: Books Not Bars, Green-Collar Jobs, Soul of the City, and Heal the Streets.

U.S. Green Building Council

SEE WEBSITE :: US Green Building Council


The U.S. Green Building Council uses the built environment to bring sustainability education to your classroom. Award-winning curricula and projects on green building from teachers—secondary through university—are spotlighted. Also offered are teaching tools on green schools and the LEED rating system.

Green Building

Why green schools? The U.S. Green Building Council provides information and incentive for your students to explore this question. Learn why green schools save energy and use less water, and are healthy places to learn and teach.

DOWNLOAD: Step-by-step guide to greening your school building (pdf, 2.4mb)


You may have heard of this term, but what does it mean?  LEED is the acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The LEED® green building certification program is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system. It addresses all building types and emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies in five areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality.

EXPLORE: How is LEED used in school design and in other types of buildings?


The Alley-Flat Initiative (University of Texas-Austin)

Since 2003, graduate architecture students learn by doing with local affordable housing agencies to bring sustainable and affordable housing to Austin. This hands-on course begins with students going into the community to assess people and neighborhood needs and ends with the “build” phase. As the professor of this course astutely says, “Our responsibility to serve the community will be taken very seriously and will provide a pedagogical context that should challenge the traditional values of “studio culture.”

DISCOVER: more green building lesson plans and projects from other teachers


The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization of building industry leaders dedicated to making green buildings available to everyone within a generation. USGBC is best known for development of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. It serves as a key source on LEED, and green building education and training, to industry professionals in the residential, commercial real estate, government, schools and neighborhood sectors.


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