News & Events

05/13/2015 -
GDF Suez Joins as Industry Partner...

+ Learn More

05/05/2015 -
Syracuse Center of Excellence Daylighting Study...

+ Learn More

03/10/2015 -
SyracuseCoE Innovation Fund Call For Proposals...

+ Learn More


Labs and Testbeds: New SyracuseCoE Facilities to Accelerate Innovations...

+ Learn More


Come visit us for a "Friday at Three" tour...

+ Learn More


2012 Annual Progress Report...

+ Learn More


SyracuseCoE in the Classroom
on Green Infrastructure

•  Lesson Plans & More
•  Online Resources
•  Teacher Best Practices

Why Teach Green Infrastructure?

Slow it down. Spread it out. Soak it in. Green Infrastructure is using natural systems to prevent stormwater from polluting our creeks, lakes and rivers. Rain gardens, rain barrels, permeable pavement and green roofs are all types of green infrastructure. Onondaga County completed more than 50 projects this year and Syracuse has been awarded by EPA as a national leader in using green infrastructure to clean our creek and lake. As part of our SyracuseCoE in the Classroom programming we can provide hands-on learning experiences, activities and videos related to green infrastructure. We also have models that help young people understand the water cycle and how technologies like porous pavement work.

Educator Resources

Featured Resource

Green Infrastructure Exam (Grades 11-12) — A version of the current issues exam for the 2012 CNY and Cortland County Envirothons is now available for use in the classroom! Developed by green infrastructure professionals at the Environmental Finance Center at Syracuse University, this exam targets high school students and focuses on Low Impact Development Strategies, non-point source pollution, and green infrastructure.
*To request an exam answer key, e-mail

Study Materials
Your Water, Your Future Issue 5 — Dauphin County Conservation District
Your Water, Your Future Issue 6 — Dauphin County Conservation District
Reducing Stormwater Costs through Low Impact Development (LID) strategies and Practices — US EPA
How Does Green Infrastructure Benefit the Environment? — US EPA
Vegetated Roof Cover — Low Impact Development Center
Reducing Stormwater Costs through Low Impact Development Strategies and Practices Q&A — US EPA
LID - A Literature Review — US EPA, Low Impact Development Center
Low Impact Development for Big Box Retailers — US EPA Office of Water
Stormwater Strategies Chapter 2 — National Resource Defense Council
A Selection of Rain Garden Plants — Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County

Lesson Plans & More


Watershed Education (Grades 3-6) — Developed by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the goal of this curriculum is to provide non-formal educators and teachers a comprehensive unit for teaching watershed and soils education.

Onondaga Nation’s Vision for a Clean Onondaga Lake (Grades 6-8) - This curriculum resource was developed by the Onondaga Environmental Institute for middle school teachers. The Onondaga Nation’s Vision offers a very detailed picture of what Onondaga Lake could look like in the future and how we could change our relationships with the lake and its non-human inhabitants.

Lesson Plans & Activities

A Day in the Life of a Drop (Grades 3-5) — Activities from US EPA's WaterSense Program. Students will understand the connections between the source of the water they use and how their water use habits affect the environment.
Teacher's Guide, Worksheet 1, Worksheet 2, Water Use Table

Fix a Leak Week Teacher's Guide (Grades 3-5) — From US EPA's WaterSense Program. Students will learn how water leaks can waste water in homes, examine sources of leaks, and calculate savings from fixing leaks.

The Value of Water (Grades 3-5) — Developed by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection,  The Value of Water is an activity that will help students understand the value of protecting our water supply. (Created for students in NYC, but can be easily adapted to use anywhere.)

What is a Watershed? (Grades 4-6) — Developed by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, this activity shows you how to create a working model of a watershed simply and affordably.

Nature in the City (Grades K-3) — A coloring and activity book from Centers for Nature Education (CNE) and Baltimore Woods. 

Create a Wetland Scene (Grades 3-5) — This lesson provided by National Geographic helps to address the importance of wetlands by teaching about freshwater wetlands and studying specific examples of wetland areas in the U.S., and what is being done to protect them.

Contaminants in the Water Cycle (Grades 9-12) — In this National Geographic activity students have the opportunity to become familiar with the EPA's list of water contaminants, the water cycle, and the health effects of contaminants within the water cycle.

How Much Water Do You Use? (Grades 7-12) — Provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, this activity gets students to understand their personal water use and sparks thinking about water conservation.

Who Polluted the River? (Grades 1-2) — Found on the US Green Building Council website, this activity is designed to engage students in an interactive story to learn how, as human populations have increased and land uses have changed, many of our rivers have become polluted. This example demonstrates that, just as we each contribute to the problem, we can also each be part of the solution.

Water Cycle Relay (Grade 3-6) — Students will review the important steps in the water cycle with this fast paced activity provided by the EPA and Shelburne Farms.


Green Infrastructure Benefits Calculator (Grades 8-12) — Developed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, this calculator tells you the water capacity of different forms of GI during a given storm event, including rain gardens, porous pavement, bioswales.

"Get More Green Green" Roof Calculator (Grades 9-12) — An interactive tool that let's you virtually "green" a roof in your own community to find out how much money you'll save in heating and cooling costs as well as how much polluted water you'll keep out of your local river! Developed by American Rivers.

Online Videos & Flash

• Please note: All videos linked from Teachers' Domain can be accessed for free upon registering.

Urban Solutions to Water Pollution
— In this 2-minute video segment from Louisville Life, learn how a rain garden in an urban community helps prevent storm water runoff from contaminating an urban watershed.

Rain Gardens (Grades 6-12) — This 1-minute video shows how a rain garden at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest near Louisville, Kentucky slows down the flow of water from the forest’s parking lot and helps prevent soil erosion

The Value of Wetlands (Grades 4-10) — In this 3-minute video segment adapted from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, learn about the value of the wetlands ecosystems.

Controlling Water Runoff (Video) — Learn about green infrastructure at the Bernheim Forest Center near Lousville, Kentucky.

Thirstin's Water Cycle (Grades 3-5) — Stages of the water cycle from the US EPA. (Flash)

What's Wrong with This Picture? (Grades 3-8) — A look at nonpoint source water pollution from the US EPA. (Flash)

Dr. Suess' The Lorax (Grades K-12) — This infamous fictional story creates a connection between progress and environmental issues.


Vermont Rain Garden Manual — This manual clarifies the rain garden installation process, demonstrates how rain gardens are cost-effective stormwater management tools, and illustrates how they can be incorporated into a variety of landscapes.

Posters/ Graphics

Water Education Posters — From the US Geological Survey (watersheds, hazardous waste, wetlands, water use, wastewater, ground water, water quality)