School-Wide Sustainability Program

December 06, 2019

At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school-year, the International School of Beijing made the transformative decision to create a long-term plan of what sustainability should look and feel like at ISB. An essential part of the process is understanding what issues (e.g., climate change, green buildings, healthy food) are important to not just the school leadership but also to the students, staff, parents, alumni and our major partners. To this end, we assembled 25 stakeholders representing all sections of the ISB community along with representatives from the US Green Building Council and a leading green energy company. Using the same L21 skills that are fundamental in our teaching (e.g., global thinking), this stakeholder working group explored the question:

How does ISB impact people and the planet and how can we make sure that impact is a positive one?

During the process, we have identified a number of areas where we have an opportunity and responsibility to generate positive impacts and these were incorporated into the Roadmap. From this Roadmap, we aim to create a sustainable community that contributes to our community and planet. We are dedicated to institutionalizing best practices in sustainable operations and translating teaching into practice by using our campus to pilot innovative solutions. We also have a deeper mandate that goes to the heart of our teaching mission: to educate and empower our students to become the next generation of leaders who will use their knowledge to create sustainable impact in service to the world.

Our approach towards developing ISB’s first Sustainability Roadmap was to bring together all parts of the school to provide a diverse set of perspectives. To this end, a Sustainability Working Group of 25 stakeholders including students, staff, parents, leadership, major partners, and external experts was assembled to represent the ISB community. At key stages within the Roadmap’s development, feedback processes were opened up to the entire community with the findings fed back to the Sustainability Working Group to support their work.

Our desire with this process was to create a document that represents the ambitions of the entire community, one that everyone will be committed in making a success.


Students attended


Staff attended


Additional Volunteers attended


Students will be impacted this year

Intended impact of project

Reduced environmental impact
Improved occupant health & performance
Increased environmental & sustainability literacy
Reduce landfill waste

Impact of project

Environmental and habitat restoration
Energy and/or water conservation
Waste reduction
Improved air quality
Improved school nutrition
Educated on sustainability knowledge

More impact of project

The Sustainability Roadmap 2025 was publicly released this fall. We have since shared our story across the community and to other international schools in Beijing and beyond in hopes others will also take up the challenge of creating more sustainable schools.

We will continue to share our journey as our story is just beginning. For example, we set a goal to develop a Sustainability Action Plan to guide our progress on each of these targets, goals, standards, and commitments we set for ourselves. That Sustainability Action Plan is now complete and was released to the public in December (

We will continue to share the story of our School-Wide Sustainability Program through articles of student action and learning, case studies and our annual Sustainability Impact Report.

Our hope is for this School-Wide Sustainability Program to bring about cultural change in how our students, staff, parents, and greater community looks at the world and the impact they have on it. I think many would agree that we are already starting to see the impacts via the projects our students are undertaking.