The Professional Standards for Educational Leadership (PSELs) (National Policy Board for Educational Administration, 2015) provide guidance for the practice and preparation of educational leaders. Murphy’s (2017) book provided a detailed discussion of these standards and supporting scholarship. Absent from his discussion was an examination of a recent trend among educational leaders worldwide – leadership for sustainability (Kensler, 2012; Kensler & Uline, 2017). As used here, “sustainability captures the interface between human civilization and the natural world and emphasizes the degree to which human beings choose to live within the ecological carrying capacity of planet Earth, presently and into the future” (Kensler & Uline, 2017, p. 4).

Sustainability science calls for an interdisciplinary approach that honors the deep interdependencies of life on this planet, investigating questions of how humans might flourish into the future across environmental, social, and economic systems (Hawken, 2007; Kajikawa, Tacoa, & Yamaguchi, 2014). Leaders for sustainability also include a focus on individual well-being as a critical domain of sustainability (AtKisson, 1999). Within education, leaders with this more expansive approach practice whole school sustainability in what are often referred to as green schools. They apply principles of sustainability to all aspects of schooling including curriculum, food, purchasing, and facility design and management. Although the PSELs do not make specific reference to whole school sustainability, they provide an excellent framework for illustrating how sustainability relates to every aspect of educational leadership. Educators across the world are leading for whole school sustainability in green schools and these practitioners provide an outstanding opportunity for future researchers.

The first two standards address issues related to core values, ethics, mission, and vision. Leaders of green schools see clearly that schools have an important role to play in addressing local and global needs across environmental, social, economic, and well-being domains. They understand that stretching beyond goals of improving student achievement actually creates opportunities for teachers and students to engage in meaningful learning. Their visions for a better world infuse their work as school leaders. They embrace an ethical frame that includes today’s children, tomorrow’s children, and the natural world, once again stretching beyond the traditional practice in educational leadership. The third standard specifically speaks to equity and cultural responsiveness, a core aspect of the sustainability movement (Hawken, 2007).

PSELs 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 address differing aspects of curriculum, teaching, and community. The practice of whole school sustainability is transforming how students meet guiding academic standards. Teachers and students, together, are engaging in meaningful problem- and project-based learning grounded in their local campus and communities. These living laboratories provide rich opportunities for cultivating citizenship and community partnerships. In green schools, leaders address PSEL 9 by collaborating with their facilities department to cultivate healthy contexts and content for learning. Finally, PSEL 10 with its focus on school improvement provides an opportunity for highlighting the new approach of whole school sustainability. Leaders for sustainability consider a more expansive context as they improve their schools. They cultivate healthy social and ecological contexts for children.