PROVO — The national Green Charter Schools Network made a stop in Utah on Tuesday, hoping to sow seeds for more environmentally conscious schools.

"Greening our schools is one of the best things we can do to secure a good future for our children," said Jim McGrath, president of the Wisconsin-based nonprofit group, during a speech Tuesday at the fourth annual Utah Charter School Conference. "We can't expect our students to be stewards of the environment if we don't teach them."

Green schools — buildings that promote a healthy environment while saving energy, resources and money — are fast gaining popularity in Utah. Two of the six charter schools scheduled to open this fall have made sustainability the center of their blueprints and curricula.

About half a dozen other public schools have earned or are in the process of earning LEED certification, an official stamp of approval from the U.S. Green Building Council. Countless more are instituting recycling programs, growing their own food and making waste reduction a part of their day-to-day operations.

Within a year, McGrath said he hopes to open a Utah chapter of the Green Charter Schools Network, which will help local schools — traditional and charter alike — to pool resources and share energy-saving ideas.

"None of these wonderful, comprehensive green schools are connected," he said. "They're only affecting their students. If we're going to make a difference in our world, we need to team up."

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