The Green Design Lab™ is an in-depth curriculum and program focused on greening New York City schools.  The Green Design Lab™ curriculum looks at the school building as both a laboratory for learning and a tool for environmental change.

Using a creative approach to problem solving, 4th-12th grade students participate in activities that incorporate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to explore and then implement what they have learned by saving energy and creating school-wide sustainability projects.


During Green Design Lab™ programs, Solar One educators work with school staff on-site to deliver the curriculum in class, support school-wide sustainability projects, and engage with the entire school community to reduce energy use.

Green Design Lab™ schools compete in an exciting Energy Challenge. Participating schools measure their electricity use during the Green Design Lab™ as compared to previous years. Prizes are awarded to the schools with the highest reduction of electricity use. The Energy Challenge is a fun and dynamic way for schools to put into practice the lessons of the Green Design Lab™ and show the entire school community how sustainability lessons apply to daily life.  

Schools in the Green Design Lab™ have seen significant energy reduction from actions as simple as campaigns to turn out the lights in empty classrooms. Other schools have changed lighting systems or cleaning products and made other large investments. Green Design Lab™ schools are expected to reduce electricity usage by an average of 5% to 10%.

For more information please visit our new Green Design Lab website!


There are five curriculum units in the Green Design Lab™: Energy, Air, Water, Materials, and Food. The curriculum includes:

  • Hands-on activities and readers for students
  • Detailed instructional guides for teachers
  • Suggested measures and ideas for schools to reduce electricity consumption
  • Proven methods for encouraging behavioral change
  • Expert advice on implementing effective and popular school-wide sustainability initiatives like recycling, school gardens, and healthy food

Want to try the Green Design Lab in your classroom today? Download one FREE sample lesson from each unit here:

Energy Lesson 3: The Power Plant Hook-Up Game
In this activity, students explore how fossil fuels are used in a power plant to generate electricity.

Water Lesson 9: Down the Drain Game
In this activity, students explore what happens to water when it goes down the drain. They will investigate what a CSO (combined sewer overflow) is as well as methods for storm water management.

Food Lesson 3: Sneaky Snacks
In this activity, students will investigate snack food labels as a class.

Air Quality Lesson 5: IAQ Whodunits
In this activity, students act as detectives to find the sources of poor indoor air quality (IAQ).

Materials Lesson 2: The Production-Consumption Junction
In this activity, students will understand the steps in the lifecycle of a product, starting with extraction and ending with disposal.


The Green Design Lab™ builds environmental literacy and awareness in the school community and fosters projects to make schools more sustainable. The Green Design Lab™ curriculum is aligned with national, city, and state educational standards.


The Wall Street Journal