The Green-Schools programme is based on seven steps. The most important aspect for schools to remember is that every school is different and it is therefore critical that a school fits the seven steps around its circumstances and situation and NOT try and fit the school into the seven steps.

The steps are as follows:

1. Elect a Green School Committee:
The committee directs the operations of a school’s Green-Schools programme. The Green-Schools committee should be as representative of the whole-school and as student led as possible. However, it is up to each school to decide how their committee operates. Our committee is made up of representatives from each class from 1st to 6th class, a teacher and SNA. The committee members were elected by secret ballot at the beginning of the school year. The current committee is as follows:- Carol, Emma, Alishia, Evelyn, Robyn, Lizzie, Emily, Maeve, Patricia, Ms H. Dunne and Ms L. Gow. Our committee meets once a month or as necessary and each meeting lasts about 20 -30 minutes. The committee regularly update our Green School Noticeboard. The committee have named themselves the GLAS Team.

2. Environmental Review: 
Carrying out an environmental review helps the school to identify its current environmental impact and highlights the good, the bad and the ugly. We undertook an environmental review/energy audit in 2009 and 2010. The main change in our review has been to switch our primary focus from Litter and Waste Management to Energy Management and Awareness. The Glas Team developed a survey and divided the school building between them to see where improvements could be made. All pupils and their families were involved in a homes survey. We discovered that:-

  • 60% of families use a compost bin at home.
  • 93% of families recycle items when possible
  • 60% of families turn off the tap while washing their teeth
  • 100% of families switch off the immersion when not in use
  • 60% of families use CFL light bulbs
  • 73% of families use a lagging jacket on their hot water cylinder
  • 0% of families leave their televisions/computers on standby
  • 94% of families turn off the light when leaving a room
  • 93% of families reuse plastic bags

3. Action Plan:
The third step is to produce an action plan with manageable and realistic targets and goals. The key areas identified for action were as follows:-

Litter and Waste Management

  • Update bin labels and encourage the use of reusable lunch boxes and try to avoid using tin foil or cling film
  • Provide a collection point in the office for reusable envelopes
  • Collect and store recyclable materials in one location
  • Remember to occasionally add shredded paper to the compost bin

Energy Management and Awareness

  • Promote an understanding of why it is good to conserve energy
  • Include more work in the curriculum to encourage and promote energy awareness
  • Adapt committee rota to accommodate both Flag 1 and 2 responsibilities
  • Relocate Green Schools Noticeboard to a more prominent location
  • Monitor classroom temperatures and electricity usage
  • Close window blinds after school to conserve heat
  • Continue to inform of our progress

4. Monitoring and Evaluating:
Step four involves monitoring and evaluating progress and should be incorporated into the action plan. We are monitoring and evaluating our progress on a monthly basis since being awarded our first Green Flag. Committee members rotate their responsibilities on a monthly basis. Our bin weights and energy usage has continued to indicate that we are making satisfactory progress. There is a great awareness amongst all pupils of energy conservation and this is filtering through to our homes. We held a Day of Action where we tried to use little or no electricity. This day was a great success. All pupils signed an energy contract which they committed to for a period of two weeks.

5. Curriculum Work: Step five involves integrating the programme into the curriculum, either directly through science, civics and environmental classes or indirectly in other subject areas through innovative teaching. Our theme of energy was linked into many subjects across the curriculum, including English, Science, SPHE, Maths, Art and IT.

6. Informing and Involving:
It is essential that the whole school is involved in, and the wider community aware of, the schools Green-Schools programme. We have a dedicated Green School Noticeboard to publicize our finding, plans and progress. Our morning assembly is regularly used as a time to make announcement and acknowledge achievements. Our Green School Motto has been learned by heart, following a competition involving parents and pupils. We took part in National Spring Clean Month in April. Our committee visited a nearby purpose built energy efficient home. We all visited a local hardware shop to learn about insulation. Our school tour for 2010 brought us to Killarney National Park and we also took part in an SEAI Energy Workshop at Dooradoyle Library. Occasionally we send in articles and photographs to the local newspapers.

7. Green Code: 
The Green-Code is a statement of the objectives demonstrating the school’s commitment to environmentally friendly actions.

The Green School Themes.

One of the key success factors of the Green-Schools programme is that it is a themed programme. That is, schools undertaking the programme work through the seven steps one theme at a time. The themes in sequence are:

1. Litter & Waste

2. Energy

3. Water

4. Travel

5. Biodiversity

Therefore,  for a school to be working on the energy theme they must have completed the seven steps for litter & waste and achieved their Green-Flag. For a school to be working on water they would have to have gone through the seven steps with energy and renewed their Green-Flag and so on.

The use of themes helps prevent schools from trying to deal with every aspect of their environment at once which could be overwhelming. Furthermore, it allows schools to build on their experience, expertise and best practice as they work from theme to theme. However, as schools work from theme to theme they will realise that there is quite a bit of overlap between the themes (e.g. recycling waste is great way of using less energy and water to produce new products).