We are making New York City public schools more sustainable by:

  • Making school buildings eco-friendly and efficient
  • Inspiring students, teachers, parents, and school communities to take part in environmental programs
  • Promoting everyday practices that benefit the environment

Annual Sustainability Project Grants

In the program’s 7th cycle, the DOE Office of Sustainability offered an opportunity for all schools to apply for a grant up to $5,000 for a school-based sustainability project in these categories: Green Teams, Sustainability & Climate Education, and Gardens & Outdoor Learning. They also offered supplies in two categories: Gardens & Outdoor Learning and Hydroponic Tower Garden. 

Interest in the grant continues to grow and this year more projects were funded than ever before! Highlights include: 

  • 146 schools across all boroughs were awarded $611,513 
  • Highest Demand Category: Gardening & Outdoor Learning (Funding) (49 schools awarded)
  • Average Economic Need Index of awarded schools: 81% (citywide average: 70%) 

Funding for the grants is provided by the participation and performance of over 360 DOE buildings in the Demand Response Program. These buildings commit to reducing electrical usage during emergency utility events in order to prevent brownouts and blackouts for NYC residents. The Office of Sustainability reinvests funds earned through the DOE’s performance in Demand Response directly back into our building infrastructure and school sustainability initiatives, including the annual grant program. 

Congratulations to the grant winners! A full list of winners is available online. 

Waste Reduction and Recycling

Zero Waste Schools

In order for the City to have zero waste go to landfills by 2030, we all have to do our part. And that means our schools do too.

Zero Waste Schools is a program designed to do just that. Instead of sending waste to landfills:

  • Schools can recycle paper, cardboard, metal, glass, plastic, and cartons
  • About half our schools compost to keep food scraps from going to landfills

Energy Conservation

The City has a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. To be part of this effort, we have brought energy efficiency programs to our schools:

  • Demand Response program: helps us avoid power outages during very hot summer days or very cold winter ones. Over 270 of our buildings take part in the program by:
    • turning off overhead lighting
    • reducing elevator service
    • turning off other machinery that requires excessive energy
  • Solar Panels are already on the roofs of over 30 school buildings. Another 100 solar projects will be completed over the next few years.


We are working to help the City reduce water use by 5%. We’ve done this by:

  • Installing high-efficiency bathroom fixtures in over 500 schools
  • Setting up programs to reduce water use and increase water efficiency


Over 50 % of our school buildings have access to school gardens. These gardens help to:

  • Support instruction on gardening and the local food system
  • Promote healthy eating habits.
  • Increase student consumption of more fresh and locally-grown produce.

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