START is a sustainability tracking and roadmap tool that schools use to assess, identify, and track actions to meet their whole-school sustainability goals.


Our community expressed a need for a flexible and scalable platform that supports high-level reporting on a range of metrics (e.g.: energy and water efficiency, food waste, air quality, curriculum) that simultaneously connects schools with their district administration to share and analyze that information to support sustainability goals.

Through extensive research, we found that most currently available systems were too advanced for the common user, too time-consuming for data collection, too narrow to be scaled into mass deployment or too complicated to integrate into potential STEM curriculum and job readiness programs.  A new, innovative tool had to be created to meet the needs of our community members in every category across the board.

As a result of an initial pilot program, we observed schools often lack an execution strategy for sustainability and coordinators also had to manage their capacity as volunteers with full-time school duties as teachers or administrators. Therefore, not only did the tool need to provide comprehensive data in a user-friendly way, but also be implemented in conjunction with a whole-school sustainability roadmap.
 
 
The Alliance has answered that need through the development of START.

This interactive online, multi-level system enables tracking of a comprehensive range of sustainability actions. START offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels for schools to assess their current actions and establish a baseline for where they are on their sustainability journey. START’s rating system helps schools understand the cost, difficulty, and impact of each action and which to implement to reach their next goal.

53 proposed metrics were compiled for measurement and distributed to 9,756 sustainability champions from the Alliance’s 8,070+ signatory schools (the intended user audience for the framework) in addition to outreaching targeted experts in education and facility-based reporting. The result was a collaborative set of the most common and actionable metrics that provide a proven roadmap toward whole school sustainability success.  
 

IMPACT:

START helps schools methodologically create a more healthy and sustainable environment for learning based on the three principles of Whole-School Sustainability: Educational Program, Organizational Culture, and Physical Place. Students become more aware of their role and responsibility in creating a sustainable future; staff cultivate a culture of teamwork and strategic planning to embed sustainable action into everyday practices; and schools become more healthy, efficient, and engaging places to learn and work that improve both educational outcomes and promote academic development.
 
How START works

“A tool that establishes a standard for all school and district members could give us leverage to unify nationally across determined metrics. This in turn could provide opportunities for collective procurements that could save money and increase the profile of school sustainability. Unity through standards could also provide us all with greater leverage within our own organizations to further our sustainability programs.”
— Meredith McDermott, Director of Sustainability for the New York City Department of Education

How You Can Help

The Alliance is seeking funding to roll out the initial phase of the program. Your contribution to the implementation of this tool lays the framework for a concrete plan of a sustainable future worldwide. Custom sponsorship branding is available. Contact Arlae Castellanos at arlae@greenschoolsalliance.org.