USGBC Idaho Challenges Schools to Go Green

May 1 2015

Article written by Charlie Woodruff


USGBC Idaho Challenges Schools

Cash prizes and trophies awarded to winners of the 2015 Idaho Green Schools Challenge

The buildings in which we educate our children have a lasting impact on our youth’s scholastic performance, career potential, health and environmental ethic. School districts across Idaho can also save tax payer money through measures on energy efficiency, water efficiency, and by reducing waste.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Idaho chapter is using the Idaho Gives platform on May 7th to make #GreenFutures a reality for Idaho school children by creating healthy, productive, and efficient school environments through the Idaho Green Schools Challenge.

Make your Idaho Gives Donation

USGBC Idaho recently announced the winners of the 3rd Annual Idaho Green Schools Challenge to a crowd of hundreds assembled in celebration of environmental awareness at Idaho Green Fest in downtown Boise.

GSChallengeUSGBC Idaho and Wells Fargo launched the first ever Idaho Green Schools Challenge in September 2012 with the goal of empowering students and communities to be good stewards of their own environments.

For the last three years, the competition designed for Idaho K-12 public or private schools encourages classrooms, clubs, and student groups to form a team to green their school. The goal of projects developed is to save energy and other resources, lower operating costs, and positively impact their school community.  One entry is allowed per school. Green Teams are encouraged to create a low-cost or no-cost project to begin in September and conclude by April 1 with the support of a sustainability professional mentor provided by USGBC Idaho. Cash awards and trophies are presented to the top elementary, middle/junior and senior high schools.

“When you realize high-performance ‘green’ school buildings typically use 33% less energy and 32% less water than conventionally constructed schools, it’s a wake-up call for those with tight operational budgets,” says Jennifer Ellis, the USGBC Idaho Green Schools Advocate. “Often substantial operational and cost improvements start with a small change, such as a ‘computer shutdown at night campaign’ or a change to more efficient light bulbs. It really is a joy to see the kids learning, making their school better and having fun at the same time.”

South Awards

The 2015 Idaho Green Schools Challenge winners are Longfellow Elementary and South Junior High School both located in Boise and Sandpoint High School. Longfellow Elementary reduced their lunch waste by 88% by replacing Styrofoam lunch trays and conducting a communication campaign to the whole school through an event called No Waste Wednesday.  South Junior High made ornaments from recycled materials for a winning Christmas tree at the Festival of Trees, enforced power shutdown days that saved $3,400 in energy costs, and saved additional funds by sorting and recycling their cafeteria waste and composting their food waste. Sandpoint High School planted a mixture of hardy, large-canopy deciduous trees in the once barren medians of their parking lot.   The direct impact of these trees will include shading, carbon sequestration, improved wildlife habitat while increasing the beauty of their school and the ‘happiness factor’ of its students.

IMG_0232“Supporting the Idaho Green Schools Challenge is very much in line with Wells Fargo’s commitment to education and the environment,” said Don Melendez, Idaho Regional president.  “We believe this is a thoughtful investment of our resources in the future of our communities where our team members and customers live and work. We’re proud to encourage environmental stewardship in our schools.”

“Supporting the Idaho Green Schools Challenge is very much in line with Wells Fargo’s commitment to education and the environment,” said Don Melendez, Idaho Regional president.  “We believe this is a thoughtful investment of our resources in the future of our communities where our team members and customers live and work. We’re proud to encourage environmental stewardship in our schools.”

The Idaho Green Schools Challenge is a program to help create high performance buildings, healthy learning environments, and inspire students to embrace environmental systems thinking. For more information visit


If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Jennifer Ellis, please contact Jennifer at or 208-867-4918.

The U.S. Green Building Council Idaho Chapter works to accelerate the implementation of sustainable building concepts, technologies and practices through education and advocacy. USGBC Idaho envisions a healthy future through the promotion and application of sustainable strategies to the built environment that will help strengthen Idaho’s economy and communities. For more information about the USGBC Idaho Chapter please contact Executive Director Charlie Woodruff at 208-871-4601 or email him at



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Advocacy Committee Sets 2015 Strategy

Feb 24 2015

Article written by admin

USGBC Idaho Advocacy Committee – 2015 Strategy, Notes From Committee Chair Steve Benner

We had the kick-off meeting for 2015 with the Advocacy Committee on January 20, 2015 at the USGBC Idaho Chapter office. Most of the core group that has been meeting for several years was in attendance, and we had a lively discussion of issues to tackle this year.

Steve Benner offered to chair the group and led a discussion of possible areas of focus, including:


  • Energy Codes
  • Net metering and other utility issues including renewable energy
  • Legislation on the state and local levels that can promote green building
  • Multifamily housing including sustainability criteria and utility incentives
  • Incentives for green design
  • Indoor Environmental Quality


Committee members were asked to rank these issues based on their individual interests for our next meeting.  Another topic we discussed was collaboration with other groups with similar interests and compatible missions, on issues of common concern.

At our February 17th meeting we asked those in attendance to identify their top three issues for 2015.  These issues were ranked: first – Energy Codes; second – Utility Issues; third, Legislation; fourth, Multifamily Housing.  These are all issues we have worked on in the past, but with this ranking, we have a new focus to direct our energies.

We discussed collaboration with other allied groups, and identified the following groups as having similar interests and compatible missions regarding the issues we have targeted.

  • Snake River Alliance – advocacy for renewable energy
  • Idaho Conservation League – protecting Idaho’s environment and working to influence conservation policy.
  • Idaho Smart Growth – helping planners, individuals and communities to use planning tools to create safe and healthy communities.

Issue alert:
In the past, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC), had a rule that alternative energy developers could sign a 20-year contract to sell their power to Idaho utilities. Idaho Power Company is asking the PUC to reduce the length of future solar contracts to two years. There is concern among many groups and individuals that this rule would “effectively stop future solar energy projects.”

This is a complex issue, but one that will have far reaching effects.  The PUC will consider this issue in the coming weeks.  The Advocacy Committee will keep abreast of this issue and provide information on how to submit input and comments to the PUC.

We meet at noon on the third Tuesday of each month.  The next meeting will be March 17, at the USGBC Idaho Chapter office. You are always welcome to attend and we encourage you to get involved in these issues.

Steve Benner, Advocacy Committee Chair


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Board Elections and a New Year

Dec 23 2014

Article written by admin

2014 is winding down and 2015 is just around the corner and we want to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a bright new year. Thanks so much for the support we have received this year which helped us have our most successful year to date!

Board applications have been submitted and we have 5 extremely qualified candidates running for a seat on the USGBC Idaho board for the 2015-2016 two year term. Check out the list of candidates and their bios and cast your vote for their election to the board. Current USGBC Idaho Chapter members can Click Here to Cast Your Vote. Elections will be open until Monday January 12th.

We are excited about our plans for programming and engagement in 2015 and will need lots of support to accomplish our goals of creating green building resources, providing education to the community, advocating for sustainable policies, and expanding our outreach to new audiences. Please let us know if you can get involved and contribute to our efforts to create a vibrant and sustainable future for the Gem State.

Happy Holidays and a Joyful New Year!



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