Partners in Education


Get Green Columbus

Recognizing the role a healthy environment plays in creating a city in which people want to live, work and raise a family, Mayor Michael B. Coleman established the Get Green Columbus initiative.  Funded in part by a grant from the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO), the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Stewardship manages the initiative focusing internally on city operations as well as externally partnering with stakeholders from throughout the community.

To assist in guiding the efforts of Get Green Columbus, the Mayor convenes an advisory group of city staff and community, business and environmental experts known as the Mayor's Green Team. The group meets every other month and is further supported by working groups with a focus on: Transportation; Growth and Development; Education and Engagement; Energy; Business; Greenspace and Green Building


'My House' at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Welcome to 'My House'. The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium partnered in the Spring of 2000 in developing the My House experience. The partnership resulted in the Authority's sponsorship of the My House education center, located at the entrance way to the North American Region at the Zoo.  My House allows visitors to experience exhibits and programs based on North American habitats, human influence and its impact on habitats, and the surrounding environment.  In the kitchen visitors learn about proactive and positive steps that we can take in order to have less of an impact on our environment.

SWACO assisted the Columbus Zoo in choosing recycled content construction material to incorporate into the My House building.  RASTRA® was chosen for wall system construction. The material was manufactured from post-consumer packaging and food service polystyrene. SWACO identified school lunch trays as a prime source of post-consumer polystyrene and worked to launch a temporary school lunch-tray recycling program. Sixty-three Franklin County Schools participated in the temporary lunch tray collection from August 2000 through December 2000. Participating schools provided approximately 14% of the polystyrene needed to construct My House. (Click here to see a school participation list).

Post-consumer polystyrene material was ground and mixed with cement to manufacture the prefabricated wall system panels. The lightweight panels were easily stacked and interlocked using an expanding foam glue. Channels were cut into the soft wall panels to allow the installation of electrical wiring. The panels were also cut to accommodate specific window and door openings. The assembled panels create a hollow form which is then reinforced with steel rods and filled with concrete to provide a strong, insulated wall system. Once in place, the polystyrene walls are covered with an exterior siding or stucco finish. (Click here for a tour of the "My House" construction project.)

My House provides education and awareness opportunities for potentially 1.3 million Zoo visitors annually. This is an opportunity to provide a positive experience for visitors and to educate the public about how to reduce negative impacts on the environment.

Please click to open:
Parent’s Guide to My House at Habitat Hollow
Recycled Building Materials” used in the construction of My House


Audubon Society

SWACO partnered with Audubon, Ohio to assist in the construction of the Grange Insurance Audubon Center (GIAC) located on the Whittier Penninsula. The GIAC opened August 28, 2009 and serves as destination nature center for urban populations, local residents and, visitors to Central Ohio. It is a real-world demonstration of the benefits of sustainable design and construction, minimalist architecture, resource conservation, energy efficiency, and land reclamation.  Not to mention, it serves as a beautiful urban oasis for birds, wildlife, and humans!


Trashformation at COSI

"Trashformation" is SWACO's exhibit at COSI. Four, giant kiosks illuatrate how common recyclable materials are broken down for recycling.  Computer screens display lifecycles of  recycled commodities and show consumer products that are made by recycling them. 


King Arts Complex

SWACO Grant monies have helped to develop a Trash to Treasure exhibit, interactive video games for kids, purchase picnic tables and benches made of recycled plastic bottles.


GreenSpot Classroom

Your classroom can be a GreenSpot! Students have a unique role to play in making our community a greener place and their commitment can be acknowledged through the GreenSpot program. It’s easy. Go to www.columbusgreenspot.org, click the Join tab, register as a community group and submit your commitments through the online application.

Just let us know what three things you will do within the next year to protect our air, soil or water. Once approved, your classroom will receive a GreenSpot decal in recognition of your substantial contribution to our community.  If you are looking for ideas check out GreenSpot Kids at: http://greenkids.columbus.gov/ for lesson plans, tools, and information about incorporating sustainability into your curriculum!

PAST Foundation

PAST started as a non-profit organization in 2000 founded by an international Board of Trustees who have devoted volumes of time to seeing that the mission of PAST is achievable. Founded to promote partnerships between anthropologists and educators, PAST successfully initiated and implemented projects throughout the United States and has proposed projects that will take it into the international arena.

The PAST/SWACO/Metro High School Garbology Program involved one hundred, 9th grade students representing 16 school districts that attended the Metro High School. Students kicked off the program with a field trip to the Franklin County Sanitary Landfill site to learn about how central Ohio manages garbage. The field trip provided hands-on learning experience to a semester long initiative in creating a valuable recycling environment at the Metro High School.
Students investigated garbage as one of the overarching threads of study and research for a semester. The hands-on experiential program melded lessons in science, environmental studies, and humanities with current issues facing our students. The PAST/SWACO/Metro High School Garbology Program is a combination of successful existing programs and new delivery tools. Topics covered focused on environmental impact, research and development, and sustainability while considering historical innovations and their impact. Students also had the opportunity to study under the late Dr. William Rathje, world-renowned social Anthropologist, Archaeologist and "Garbologist".