Protecting the environment through language education

The world is racing towards an environmental catastrophe that can only be halted by immediate and persistent action. Not just action on a geo-political scale, but action by everyone in their every-day habits and behaviours.

The more people learn about environmental issues, the more likely they are to modify their behaviours and persuade those around them to modify theirs.

Learning can take place in many different contexts; mainstream education is key, as are social networks and traditional media channels. But we need to take every opportunity both to communicate the many threats to our environment - and to our well-being - and to outline possible solutions; and language teaching institutions, whether private or public, can play an important role.

This is why we decided to set up a non-profit association called Green Standard Schools.



To promote environmental sustainability in language teaching institutions everywhere, by providing leadership, guidance and support to educational authorities, teaching institutions, teachers and learners.


To lessen the impact that language teaching has on the environment by developing a set of policies and practices that language teaching institutions and their stakeholders can adopt and adhere to.

To award accreditation against these policies and practices to providers of language education everywhere.

To develop resources designed to encourage environmental sustainability in language teaching and learning and offer training and support in the application of these resources.

core values

To protect the environment in all our activities

To encourage international cooperation and understanding

To encourage personal and professional development

To maintain a policy of non-discrimination

Schools that want to become members of our association will need to demonstrate that they have lessened their impact on the environment in a number of ways. We have summarised the sort of action we expect schools to undertake as:

The 12 commitments

Reduce the amount of energy consumed in the school and switch to sustainable energy suppliers where possible
Reduce the amount of water consumed in the school
Reduce the amount of paper consumed and move towards a paperless operation
Discourage the use of pointless plastics by all staff, students and suppliers
Reuse and recycle everything brought into the school that can usefully be reused or cycled
Reduce the environmental impact of purchases e.g. by using local supply chains
Reduce the environmental impact of all marketing activities
Compensate for the carbon generated by students and staff travelling to the school – especially international students!
Encourage providers of accommodation services to adopt sustainable practices
Include activities that benefit the environment in the school’s programme of social activities
Ensure that all staff and students are aware of the school’s environmental policies
Systematically include environmental issues in the teaching curriculum

The Founders

Green Standard Schools was formally established by four people:
Jonathan Dykes

A pioneer in several fields, Jonathan was responsible for developing an environmental policy at International House Barcelona way back in 2007. Under his leadership IH Barcelona went on to become the first language school anywhere to be registered on the European Union’s Eco Management Audit Scheme (EMAS).

Paul McMullan

Director of IH Belfast since its foundation in 2008, Paul has long been an advocate for environmental sustainability. He introduced one of the first ever paperless CELTA courses in the world and, together with mega-agency ESL, developed an app designed to help language learners adopt more sustainable practices.

Josip Sobin

Josip graduated from an environmental college with dual degree in Biology and Chemistry, later specializing in molecular biology. Working as the director of an institute for adult education since 2012, he has been able to combine his love for education, technology and environment. Today he works as a consultant for many language schools and other educational institutes.

Jure Granić Skender

A young ICT expert with multiple awards in the field, a software development teacher and entrepreneur, with multiple successful projects in the education and ICT sector. He is the CEO of Amber IT Solutions, a company dedicated to developing IT solutions for schools. He is also the lead developer on most of the company’s projects, contributing with his knowledge, zeal and creativity.

The team has also benefitted from the advice given by
Martha Liliana Marin

Originally from Colombia, Martha has an MSc in Sustainable Development from the University of Sussex (UK) which, according to QS World University Rankings, has been the best in the world for development studies for the last four years.

To see how Martha helped in the development of Green Standard Schools watch this video:

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