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For City Schools, a commitment to sustainability means minimizing the environmental impact of our buildings, educating school communities about the connections between their daily actions and the environment, and empowering students to be leaders in creating a more sustainable school district, city, and community.

Sustainability Plan

Sustainability Policy

Energy, Water and Resource Conservation Regulation

The City Schools sustainability plan identifies the key areas that City Schools will focus on in the coming years. The plan is tied to the district’s Blueprint for Success and the sustainability policy and is an important part of making our schools engaging, exciting, and healthy places to teach and learn. Read below for resources related to each goal in the plan. Together, we can make Baltimore a cleaner, greener place to learn, work, and live.  For questions or more information, contact

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Did you know?

City Schools buys electricity generated at a solar “farm” in Howard County, which lowers the cost of electricity at 13 schools.

Develop Environmentally Literate Students

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City Schools curricula will meet Next Generation Science Standards and Maryland Environmental Literacy Standards.  Through teacher training, partnerships with area environmental organizations, and updated curricula, students learn about the natural environment, their role within it, and ways to take action to preserve and protect it.

  • Students experience environmental education throughout the curriculum.
  • Great Kids Farm is City Schools’ own 33-acre educational farm. 

Create Healthy School Environments

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Americans spend almost ninety percent of their lives indoors, and for our students, teachers and staff, that means many hours inside school buildings.  Schools can promote the well-being of students and staff and provide school spaces that are conducive to learning.  By connecting students to opportunities outside, both on school grounds and beyond, City Schools brings to life the research that shows the positive effects of nature on academics, mental health, and physical health.

  • As part of the 21st Century School Buildings Program, all new and fully renovated schools must meet the silver rating of the LEED for Schools green building standard.    
  • Some City schools are certified as MAEOE Green Schools; find successful applications and resources.
  • The comprehensive maintenance plan addresses how City schools will maintain buildings so they are healthy places to learn and work.
  • Focusing on heating and cooling systems and practicing integrated pest management helps to improve the quality of air students and staff breathe.
  • The Cleaning for Health Toolkit has guidelines and resources about environmentally-friendly materials and practices.  All traditional and charter schools and all staff and contract custodians must follow the guidelines. 
  • Sustainability supports City Schools’ Wellness, Nutrition, and Physical Activity Policy.  On the physical side, sustainability includes improving indoor air quality, educating kids about growing healthy food, and bringing kids outside to explore and exercise.  On the academic side, sustainability includes engaging kids in hands-on learning about science and social studies, as well as their role in their ecosystem.  And on the mental health side, sustainability includes giving kids and staff access to safe and peaceful outdoor experiences.

Reduce and Conserve Natural Resources

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City Schools is working to reduce its impact on the environment and save money by conserving energy and natural resources.  Through simple steps and by engaging staff and students, we can eliminate utility waste.  Each of us – students, teachers, administrators, cafeteria staff, and custodians – are responsible for this work.  City Schools manages energy purchases, monitors all utilities (electricity, fuel oil, natural gas, water/sewer), upgrades equipment, advises on new school construction, and educates school communities.

  • The Recycling Toolkit helps schools and facilities to recycle paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, metal, light bulbs and electronics.  
  • The Energy Conservation Toolkit helps schools use less energy and save money.  City Schools is upgrading lighting and heating/cooling systems, buying energy from renewable sources, and educating staff and students about conservation. Two schools recently opened are net-zero energy (NZE); see this video.

Improve Green Spaces

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Schoolyards that are green and have spaces for physical activity, peaceful reflection, outdoor classrooms, and exploration can improve academic outcomes and the mental and physical health of students and staff.  In addition, green schoolyards promote good storm water management practices.

  • Great Kids Farm’s School Garden Toolkit includes resources on planning, installing, and maintaining a school garden, and on engaging students and community members.  Farm to School staff provide garden support, community resources, and opportunities at the farm.  Request a field trip and find additional information at Friends of Great Kids Farm.
  • Baltimore City and City Schools are supporting greener schoolyards through the Cities Connecting Children to Nature program and the Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, as the evidence grows that people, and especially kids, benefit from nature.
  • Explore the Outdoor Learning Toolkit for resources and inspiration for outdoor learning and meals.

Engage School Communities

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Schools can engage their full community – including students, teachers, staff, families, and partners – to promote environmental education and reduce City Schools’ impact on the environment.  Students who are actively involved in their education often share their enthusiasm with their families; in turn, greening activities can be effective at involving parents at school.  Sustainability supports City Schools Family and Community Engagement Policy.

Build Student Leadership

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City Schools and partners encourage and support youth to be leaders on environmental issues through in-school and out-of-school opportunities.  Through school grants, internships, summer jobs, and more, students will learn valuable leadership and work skills, as well as better understand the green economy.

  • Green, Healthy Smart Challenge offers funding for student-led greening projects such as leading recycling teams, planting and caring for gardens, leading community clean-ups, creating PSAs about water pollution, and educating classmates about ways to conserve energy.
  • The Baltimore Office of Sustainability’s Youth Environmental Internship pays high school students to become environmental leaders.  Past interns created Baltimore Beyond Plastic to help pass a 2018 ban on the use of Styrofoam food containers.