2014 Winner: Verdant Brainiac

The most scalable green renovation project, particularly one that is innovative and overcame significant challenges.

Who led the charge



Vicki Sando
Active Parent and Environmental Science Program Developer, PS41



Thanks to green mom Vicki Sando, environmental literacy is through the roof at PS 41. Parent-turned-environmental program developer and teacher Vicki Sando knows it takes more than a butterfly in a box to teach children about nature in the city. Working with industry leaders, Vicki fosters partnerships, develops curricula, and teaches students "farm-to-table" agriculture, green building technologies, and wildlife conservation. In 2006, she founded The Green Roof Environmental Literacy Laboratory (GELL) Project, transforming the roof at P.S. 41 into a green space open to students. She has represented GELL in various media outlets, and consulted on A Guide to Green Roofs On Existing School Buildings, developed by the New York Department of Education Office of Sustainability. Vicki continues to share her experience and expertise by developing a K-12 Green Roof Curriculum Guidebook in partnership with M.S. 442 and The Bronx Design & Construction Academy.

The GELL Project, New York, NY                               Educational Facility - 15,000 sq. ft.

Six and a half years and millions of dollars after Sando launched the idea, the GELL Project at P.S. 41 has become home to New York City’s largest green roof on a public school, welcoming its first groups of kindergartners in September of 2012. Along with improvements in education, the 15,000-square-foot modular tray system increased building energy efficiency and brought a host of ecological services, from absorbing storm-water to providing habitats for urban wildlife. GELL has inspired over 20 other schools to begin building their own rooftop learning labs, incorporating green roofs into their science curricula.

Covering the 15,000 sq foot roof of the school, the GELL Project is the largest green roof on a public school in New York City.

Kelly Shannon | Principal, PS41
Igor Ioustous | Custodial Engineer, NYC Dept of Education
Jose Miranda | Murphy Burnham & Buttrick, Project Architect
Daniel O'Gorman | Project Manager, School Construction Authority
Agata Siwiak-Vetter | Project Manager, Zubatkin Owner Representation


"Patience is a virtue."

pinelli project.png