ISB Awarded for Sustainability

By Nick Yates, ISB Communications

The International School of Beijing’s (ISB) pioneering of sustainability in its field has been recognized with a top international prize. The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) last week gave a Green Apple Day of Service Award to ISB for replacing its fossil fuel buses with electric ones.

ISB has a dedicated sustainability manager on staff and made the transformative decision at the beginning of 2018-2019 to draw up a long-term plan for sustainability at the school, a process many educational institutions like Harvard have undertaken (check out Harvard’s Sustainability Plan here).

ISB assembled stakeholders from the student, teacher, and parent body along with representatives from the USGBC and a leading Chinese green energy company to explore the question: How does ISB impact people and the planet and how can the ISB community make sure that impact is a positive one?

The work aims to inspire students and create a new generation of environmental leaders. Student-led projects have included a new school-wide recycling system and a promotional campaign culminating in a day when the lights were dimmed in the school corridors to illuminate climate change.

For the bus electrification, three students conducted research and developed a case for cleaner emissions standards for school buses. Their work ultimately led ISB to convert 27 of its 54 buses from diesel to electric and make a plan to convert the remaining buses to electric by 2030.


The Green Apple Day of Service Awards recognizes outstanding kindergarten-grade 12 sustainability service-learning projects and leaders around the world. The awards were presented at a conference in Portland, Oregon, with ISB winning the “Deep Impact” category for depth of student and community transformation.

“I was both surprised and elated when I received the notification that Net Impact ISB was to be awarded the Green Apple Day of Service Deep Impact Award for its bus electrification project,” said ISB Sustainability Manager Matthew Yamatin. “Students all around the world are working on amazing projects to transform their communities and for our students to be selected validates not only their efforts, but also the opportunity that ISB provides to drive real change within the community. In this case, that change was a dramatic reduction in our impact to climate change and harmful air pollution.

“When I spoke with the USGBC representatives at the conference, the aspect of the bus electrification project they were most impressed with was the depth to which the students carried this project through. The bus electrification project was two years in the making, requiring research, analysis, and coordination with ISB leadership. These skills are essential towards developing the next generation of change agents; exactly what USGBC is looking to celebrate.”

Anisa Heming, director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, said, “The actions of community volunteers to join together with students and teachers to showcase sustainability leadership continues to inspire us. The diverse group of Green Apple Day of Service projects that we honor this year represents dedicated teams that have worked together to raise the volume in their communities and prepare the next generation of sustainability leaders.”

ISB is an extraordinary school, made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning 40 years. Establishing, nurturing, and growing such an exceptional learning community has been and remains intentional; we work hard to build strong relationships so our learning is at its best.

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