What's New

Registration Open for the 2016-2017 K-12 Schools Competition

The 2016-2017 K-12 Schools Green Workplace Challenge is currently open for registration. The GWC for K-12 Schools is a brief 21-week challenge that empowers teachers, principals and students to participate in the Green Workplace Challenge. It's FREE to join, and the competition is open to K-12 schools of all sizes. Every action makes a difference. What difference can your school make this year?

Sign up by October 31, 2016 to compete!

Learn More

New Categories and Actions

The categories of action for GWC 4.0 have been reconfigured for simplicity and efficiency. This year, you will find actions broken down into seven simple categories: Social Equity, Engagement, Energy, Water, Materials Management (Waste), Transportation and Air Quality. You will find actions from previous GWC years have been renamed and categorized to fit within this structure. The actions within these categories have been reordered so that the most essential actions (i.e. pledges, baselines and benchmarks) are listed first.  New actions have been added to each category, and are denoted with the word NEW.

Note for Municipalities and Universities: We request that you first search the existing categories to find new actions or match your current sustainability practices with actions. If you do not find the action you are looking for within these categories, look in the Municipality or University section, where you will find actions that pertain to municipalities, universities only.


At the suggestion of previous participants, we have created a symbol system to help simplify use of this guide. 

NEW = actions which are new for GWC 2016-2017

!  = actions which are foundational to the category

+ = actions which can be repeated (the action may be submitted multiple times)

# = actions which are eligible for a social media bonus

& = actions which contain multiple components (submit only once for a range of points)

▲ = actions intended for tenants

Neighborhood Competition Category

In addition to competing as an individual organization, this year participants may join forces with neighboring organizations to compete at the Neighborhood level in the GWC. To join and compete for a Neighborhood, contact the GWC staff at or at 412-258-6649 to let the staff know which neighborhood team you will be joining.  Eventually the GWC anticipates automating the process at gwcpgh.org.  At the end of the competition, all points accrued by each individual organization in a neighborhood will be added together. These totals will be compared to those of other competing neighborhoods in the GWC Finale.

By joining forces with your neighbors in this simple way, you will help encourage the growth of sustainable initiatives in neighborhoods throughout Pittsburgh, and demonstrate that every action that each business takes add up towards a more sustainable Pittsburgh.

Note: Participants joining a neighborhood cohort will still compete as an individual organization, and will be eligible for individual recognition in the GWC.


New this year, GWC participants can achieve ribbons of accomplishment in each category. To earn a ribbon, you must first complete the foundational actions in each category (denoted with a !). Then, complete an additional 10 points worth on Instrumental actions (cumulatively, you must earn 20 Instrumental points for a Red Ribbon, and 30 for a Blue Ribbon).  For each ribbon you earn, you will also receive an additional cache of 25 points for your demonstrated commitment to taking progressive action in each category of sustainability.

Category Playbooks

This year the GWC has created “playbooks” for each category, intended to guide each participant through the actions in each category at increasing levels of investment, accomplishment and impact. The playbooks include foundational (!) actions for earning a ribbon, and lists suggested Instrumental actions that have been placed in the white/red/blue rows based on progressive degrees of investment. These levels were designed to help your organizations move toward its sustainability goals.

For example, to earn your White Ribbon in Energy, you must start an account with Energy Star Portfolio manager, establish your natural gas and electricity baselines, and pledge to reduce your emissions. In addition, you must earn at least 10 points from non-foundational actions. A suggested list of actions for organizations just beginning to monitor and reduce energy consumption are listed in the playbook under the “White Ribbon” level. These actions require less investment of time and money, and will help inform future energy decisions. Organizations that complete these foundational actions and an additional 10 points worth of instrumental actions will receive a cache of 25 additional points. To receive your Red Ribbon or Blue Ribbon in Energy, participants will follow the same process, but with Foundational and Instrumental actions that require increasing investment of time, money, planning and collaboration for greater measureable impact.

Category Playbooks can be found under the “For Participants” tab.

Actions to Reward Tenant-Landlord Collaboration

The GWC team recognizes that many participants do not have direct access to utility data, or only have access to data for a whole building in which they are one tenant among many. While any action taken towards decreasing energy use is valuable, being able to track and measure that value is the single most significant factor in ensuring continued improvement towards an organization’s sustainability goals. With this in mind, the GWC team has created a series of actions designed for tenants and property managers or owners interested in collaborating to create a more efficient and sustainable workplace. These actions highly reward the pursuit of utility data access via engaging other building tenants and the building manager, ultimately in pursuit of a “Green Lease” or similar agreement.

Sprint Challenges

Similar to Sprint Challenges in GWC 3.0, the GWC 4.0 will feature an action biweekly throughout the competition year. By taking part in the featured action and submitting documentation within the two week time frame, participants will earn one point in addition to those gained through the action alone. Sprint Challenges will be announced the week prior in the GWC Newsletter, often in conjunction with community events, volunteer opportunities, and national and international holidays and days of action.

Standard Innovation Point Scoring

Innovation points will be rewarded on the same scale and structure used to determine the points for existing actions in the GWC. That structure most heavily rewards measurable reductions in emissions-producing activities including energy use, water use, waste production and transportation, followed by actions that directly impact your ability to measure those impacts, then those that increase the scale of sustainability initiatives (typically engagement or outreach activities), actions that lead to reductions in emissions (though direct measurement may not be tracked), and lastly actions which are positive, but do not affect reductions directly. All points are similarly awarded based on the scale of investment of both time and capital.