Help Us Green America's Schools!

by Architecture for Humanity
Presenting the Guide at Greenbuild Nation, 2013
Presenting the Guide at Greenbuild Nation, 2013

Helping to build more healthy communities is at the heart of our work at Architecture for Humanity -- it's the very foundation of the organization and what we strive towards in every one of our projects. It's with that in mind, and with an approaching new year, that we are shifting our Green Schools focus towards larger, cross-sector partnerships. It's not that size matters, quite the contrary. We know that every one of us has a role to play in building healthier schools, healthier communities and it's with that, that we say so long for now to this campaign. We're grateful for every penny donated to the cause Help Us Green America's Schools!. It's, in part, from your support, that we've been able to:

  • Launch, manage and complete a student-led Green Schools Improvement competition, aka Guerrilla Green;
  • Develop a lesson plan to guide students and teachers through the green building improvement process;
  • Announce the Guerrilla Green winners and the largest check we've ever written (literally) live and on site;
  • Present the Guide (a free downloadable resource for K-12 schools and communities that demonstrates how schools can implement healthy and resource-efficient building improvements) at Greenbuild Nation, 2013.

Stay tuned to and keep in touch with us at Architecture for Humanity as we continue to build the case, the model and the framework for action towards a more resilient, more sustainable and more just built world. Thank you for being a part of our team. 

Guerrilla Green Awards Ceremony
Guerrilla Green Awards Ceremony



The Green Schools Investment Guide (aka the Toolkit) is getting ready for Greenbuild 2013 Philadelphia where Architecture for Humanity will, in collaboration with the USGBC's Center for Green Schools, lead a charrette-style workshop that introduces the Toolkit and provides working tips for key members of the school community to guide school building investment decisions on their own school turf. 

During this session, participants can expect to gain an introduction and insight into innovative ways to:

  1. Outline and champion a path for schools to finance and implement healthy building retrofits, from a pre-retrofit student and school community engagement process to post-upgrade commissioning, operations and maintenance
  2. Address various school decision-maker concerns around the costs of building retrofits by incorporating insights into student performance, health and energy efficiency.
  3. Easily identify and share successful models for school improvement finance, including key paid-from-savings and traditional school funding approaches, like bond measures and loans
  4. Appropriately leverage existing industry-leading resources and tools, such as the LEED Reference Guide for Green Building Operations and Maintenance and relevant LEED Study Guides.

This guide marks the first collaborative product between Architecture for Humanity and the Center for Green Schools at USGBC.  Fundamentally, our vision is simple: to make sure every kid in the United States attends a healthy and inspiring school. Our organizations are working together to create and apply easy-to-use resources that help communities to find ‘right-sized’ investment strategies to transform their schools into clean, safe and resource efficient learning environments. 

Team Thirsty Fountain wins the grand prize!
Team Thirsty Fountain wins the grand prize!

As of October 22, 2012 Architecture for Humanity launched a project that puts the fate of the classroom into the hands of the students. Formatted as a three round competition, Guerrilla Green has challenged teens to visualize a plan to improve the spaces within their schools, introduced them to advocacy, and supported their visions by granting up to $13,000 to the most progressive ideas.

This month, May 2013, we’ve concluded the 2013 competition by hand-delivering a $10,000 check to a team of deserving students at the Design and Architecture Senior High School in Miami Florida. The winning team coalesced an in your face water reuse and conservation awareness campaign -- showing students, school administrators and showdown fans how much water is wasted every time someone takes a drink out of a traditional K12 school fountain. To help solve the problem, they built a contraption that collects the wasted water and redistributes it as gray water in their art classes.

To date, the Guerrilla Green competition has directly connected with over 400 students. But our impact reaches far beyond that scope. The teens involved in the competition have learned how to advocate their ideas, therefore, the exact impact cannot be calculated, as it webs far beyond our visual reach.

We are proud to say, many of the teams who competed in the three rounds have said that they will continue to move forward with their projects, and fight for more environmentally proactive spaces, despite not making it to the final round. Because of these motivated teens, the future of Guerrilla Green looks like a relatable resource for students to understand and incorporate environmental sustainability into their most used spaces. The conversation will be run by students, for students. The easiest way to get a teen to understand that going green is easy, is by showing them that it’s possible.

Want to see a showdown in your community in 2014? Don't be shy, send us a note.


Water collector.
Water collector.
Team Thirsty Fountain. Grand Prize winners.
Team Thirsty Fountain. Grand Prize winners.
Advocacy stickers made by Thirsty Fountain.
Advocacy stickers made by Thirsty Fountain.


Architecture for Humanity and the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released “The Green Schools Investment Guide for Healthy, Efficient and Inspiring Learning Spaces,” a free downloadable resource for K-12 schools and communities that demonstrates how schools can implement healthy and resource-efficient building improvements.

The Green Schools Investment Guide outlines the steps that any school stakeholder – from school administrators and elected officials to staff and students to parents and businesses – can take to transform their local schools. The 70-page, action-oriented resource demonstrates how investments in America’s school buildings can improve student and staff well-being and academic performance, conserve scarce resources and foster thriving and sustainable communities.

This collaboration is part of the Center for Green Schools’ Green Apple initiative, a cause-marketing effort that gives individuals companies and organizations the opportunity to transform all our schools into healthy, safe, cost-efficient and productive learning places for students. Through this collaboration, Architecture for Humanity and the Center for Green Schools will develop a joint fundraising model to tackle our nation’s deferred school maintenance bill by implementing school improvement projects, addressing school finance barriers and providing tools to educators.

The Green School Investment Guide is the first product of a joint initiative of Architecture for Humanity and the Center for Green Schools. We’re working together to create and apply resources that show how communities can make healthy building improvements in their schools.

At the heart of every healthy community, we see a green school: a healthy, safe, inspiring and resource efficient place for learning and leadership. We believe that every school can serve as a center for community life and an engine of renewal. We believe that where we learn matters.


The jury had the challenging task of selecting only 10 of the 80 first round submissions to Guerrilla Green -- a U.S. based ideas, design and implementation competition that provides awards and funding for teens to hack their schools green. The 10 fantastic teams chosen to continue on to the next round, 2 from each of the 4 Regions, and 2 Wildcards, will each receive $1000 in cash -- seed funding -- to implement their ideas in Round 2 while competing for more money and more green improvements.


The Guerrilla Green Challenge is a youth-led school design competition and social enterprise pilot program whereby high school students apply for grants to upgrade their school facilities and help turn their school campuses into inspirational places of learning and models of sustainability. Five select student teams will receive grants, and mentorship and technical expertise by Architecture for Humanity to execute their proposals.

This program goes beyond a one-off design competition. The aim is to create learning, leadership and design/construction outcomes to inform the basis of Architecture for Humanity’s nationwide, multi-year program on innovative financial guidance for sustainable schools. The insights and outcomes of the Guerrilla Green Challenge will be critical to successfully delivering the core student engagement, workforce development, and leadership development components of these broader efforts.



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Organization Information

Architecture for Humanity

Location: San Francisco, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Architecture for Humanity
Project Leader:
Cameron Sinclair
Co-Founder and Executive Director
San Francisco, CA United States

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