ED Honors 2015 School, District, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees in DC

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          U.S. Department of Education


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ED Honors 2015 School, District, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees in DC

2015 EDGRS Ceremony

On June 3rd, the 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees received accolades at a ceremony in Washington, DC for their sustainable, healthy facilities, wellness practices, and sustainability learning.  Secretary Duncan praised honorees for their efforts and announced the relaunch of Green Strides.  Thanks to the sponsorship of the Center for Green Schools, the new site offers resources that all schools can use to save money, improve health, and engage their students with real-world environmental learning.  The site also features a calendar of webinars offered by a host of non-profit and federal collaborators explaining the use of these resources.  Finally, the site showcases the honorees in a searchable map.  The photos from the ceremony can be found here and evening reception here.  Read the press release, blog and the Director’s closing remarks.  You can share ceremony photos and impressions with us on Twitter (EDGreenRibbon) and Facebook (EDGreenRibbonSchools). 


Thank You, Sponsors!


Thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for providing a wonderful venue for this year’s ceremony; to the Green Schools National Network, Green Schools, National Wildlife Federation, Green Schools Alliance, Project Learning Tree, Go Green Initiative, and Green Schools Initiative, generous plaque sponsors; and to the Center for Green Schools for offering the evening reception.  Thanks also go to partners offering activities: the Department of Energy, National Park Service, and ED Office of Non-Public Education.  Finally, thanks to state education agency personnel who spearhead award selection in each state.


State Authorities Prepare for 2015-2016 Award Cycle

EDGRS 2015 Ceremony Directors Awardee

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) began in 2011-2012 by defining the term “green school” according to three Pillars and recognizing 78 schools.  In 2012-2013, ED added a District Sustainability Award and honored 64 schools and 14 districts.  It also began an annual Green Strides Tour spotlighting the practices of honorees and launched a Green Strides portal with resources for all to employ.  The 2013-2014 cycle named 48 school and 9 district honorees and brought the Director’s Award to honor state officials advancing school sustainability.  2015 was the first year of the Postsecondary Sustainability Award, with 9 colleges and universities, 14 districts, and 58 schools recognized, and saw the revamping of Green Strides


For 2015-2016, states are now preparing their applications and will post them by the fall with deadlines to submit to them in the winter.  State authorities’ school, district, and postsecondary nominations are due to ED by February 1, 2016.  Interested colleges and universities should contact their state higher education authorities, while schools and districts should contact their state education agencies.



State education authorities’ participation in nominating school, district, and postsecondary candidates is voluntary.  Hearing from interested applicants may be helpful to those considering 2015-2016 participation.  State education authorities should contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information and can find updated criteria and other state implementation guidance on our website.


Meet the 2015 Honorees

As the examples below indicate, U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees are demonstrating innovative practices for all to follow:

Kirkwood Wind Turbine







Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa


Kirkwood Community College’s commercial scale wind turbine provides an estimated 5.6 million kW/h of renewable electricity to campus, and serves as an educational tool to Kirkwood students and the community.  The school’s energy production and distribution technologies program teaches students about complex mechanical and electrical systems, including megawatt windmills, steam-driven turbines, and solar fields that turn sunlight into electricity.  A software-based system controls equipment and lighting, allowing the college to save energy during periods of high demand by shutting down HVAC for ten-minute intervals.  Kirkwood has 710,000 square feet of geothermal systems, with an additional 100,000 under construction.  The Hotel at Kirkwood, the nation’s only luxury teaching hotel at a two-year college, makes use of an ice storage system that reduces energy usage when cooling.  Food scraps from the hotel, the culinary arts program, and the cafeteria are composted, and textbooks are collected to be shredded and recycled as paper towels and napkins.  The college has reduced the use of salt to treat ice on campus by using snow brooms and organic compounds such as beet juice.  Students studying agriculture learn herbicide, chemical management, and manure management.  Sustainable construction provides an understanding of building science theory and applications in residential and commercial construction.  Soil conservation concepts are covered with Department of Agriculture materials.  An entire class session in the Introduction to Ethics course is devoted to environmental ethics.  Through Kirkwood's horticulture program, the college has developed berms and reestablished native prairies.  Landscape construction and design courses address trends in sustainability and landscape maintenance.  Diesel fuel systems courses teach students about emissions control and how the emissions-heavy industry is switching to new clean technology.  >>>>


Murray Elementary School


Charles P. Murray Elementary School, Fort Stewart, Ga.


Charles P. Murray Elementary School’s new facility, opened in 2014, was designed and constructed to meet LEED Silver standards, and features a wind turbine and over 450 solar panels.  The building’s water return system minimizes the use of both water and energy through a carefully planned hot water design that uses water heated by solar energy.  The building minimizes water use with efficient appliances and fixtures, like controlled dishwashers and ultra-low-flow flush toilets.  The grounds include features that help filter stormwater runoff, such as pervious parking surfaces, retention ponds, and native rain gardens.  Teachers participate in professional development sessions on topics such as oyster restoration, collecting buoy information, and data analysis of the nearby ocean.  These outdoor courses include kayaking along tributaries and studying salt-water and wetland habitats.  Faculty receive Engineering is Elementary kits to instruct effectively on topics of solar and wind energy.  Murray's second graders participate in an energy awareness project with the local energy provider.  Sixth-graders write e-letters to wind energy analysts to determine the feasibility of wind turbines off the Georgia coast.  The school participates in the NOAA-sponsored Project GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) and educates students on green technologies with visits from the Georgia Forestry Division, University of Georgia Marine Extension Services, and the Georgia Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division. >>>>


Old Trail School, Bath, OH


Old Trail School, Bath, Ohio

Old Trail School strives to reduce its carbon footprint while introducing students to their natural world through hands-on, collaborative science lessons, gardening, and habitat restoration.  The 62-acre campus allows the school to focus on place-based education, encouraging students, families, faculty, and staff to explore the outdoors.  Old Trail uses software to regulate the thermostat throughout the entire campus, changed T-12 to T-8 and LED bulbs, installed HVAC automation and building motion sensors, implemented a behavioral change campaign, and features extensive daylighting.  It has installed a 320 kW/h solar array and includes an outdoor amphitheater, a UV-treated pool, and an impressive Living Machine that treats the school’s wastewater completely through the use of natural resources.  Housed in a greenhouse, the Living Machine serves as a laboratory for students as well as others in the region.  In the Living Classroom, students perform water quality experiments and use a demonstration pond.  One hundred percent of produce served in the cafeteria is grown on campus.  The Edible Education Program is led by four faculty members who were trained by Alice Waters and her Edible Schoolyard Program.  The school’s curriculum includes laying hens, three honey-producing beehives, an environmental education center, farm, composting and waste, cooking, work with a regional food bank, public health, and meteorology.  Old Trail hosts the Countryside Conservancy Farmers’ Markets during the winter season and incorporates the Education for Sustainability Standards and Cloud Institute Curriculum.  >>>>


Resources and Opportunities

Green Strides Design


Green Strides Webinar Series Hits 250


Over the past two years, the Green Strides Webinar Series has publicized over 250 webinars offered by dozens of federal agencies and nonprofit organizations.  These webinars offer tools to reduce schools' environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education.  This summer, check out the new webinar page and submit suggestions of free webinars regarding school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov so that we may help to promote them.

July   6, 2015, 12:00 –1:00 p.m.  Exploring Ice in the Solar System (NASA)


July   8, 2015,  4:00 – 5:00 p.m.  Rockets 2 Racecars:  Session 1-Research Spinoffs (NASA)


July 9, 2015,   2:00 – 3:30 p.m.  Checklist in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager (EPA)


July 13, 2015, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.   Rockets 2 Racecars:  Session 2 (NASA)


July 14, 2015, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.  Exploring Strange New Worlds Series (NASA) 


July 15, 2015, 12:00 1:00 p.m.   Hubble Math (NASA)


July 16, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  How to Apply for the ENERGY STAR (EPA)


July 21, 2015, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.  Ask the Expert:  Portfolio Manager Enhancement (EPA)


July 22, 2015, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.  Rockets 2 Racecars: Session 3 (NASA)


July 28, 2015, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.  ISS Across the Curriculum:  Social Studies in Space (NASA)


July 28, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101(EPA)


July 29, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)


July 30, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)


July 30, 2015, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Rockets 2 Racecars:  Session 4– Go Green (NASA)




USDA Offers Resources to Prevent Summer Hunger


During the school year, more than 21 million children rely on free and reduced-price school meals.  However, during the summer, only 3.8 million children participate in the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program.  This means that too many children are at risk of hunger because they are out of school.  To help prevent summer hunger, the USDA partners with schools, local governments, and community organizations to offer free meals.  Any child -- under the age of 18 -- can walk into designated summer meal sites and eat for free.  Consult the Summer Meals Toolkit; summer meals site finder; and digital and printable summer meal materials in various languages.  >>>>


Captain Planet Logo


Apply for Captain Planet Foundation Small Grants by September 30th 


Captain Planet Foundation’s (CPF) Small Grants fund environmental stewardship and service-learning projects that engage children in critical thinking, research, inquiry investigations, and real-world environmental problem-solving.  CPF’s Small Grants are given in five major areas: Earth (recycling, conservation, and gardening projects), Fire (energy conservation and renewable energy projects), Wind (air pollution and pollinator conservation projects), Water (water conservation, watershed, and monitoring projects) and Heart (community vitality and outdoor education projects).  Grants provide educators with the funding needed to purchase equipment, materials, or supplies.  >>>>


Project Learning Tree Logo


Apply for Project Learning Tree’s GreenWorks Grant by September 30th



Do you have an idea for an environmental improvement project but need funds to implement it?  Project Learning Tree is accepting applications for a school/community native plant garden, a forest improvement project, a streamside restoration plan, a recycling program, or energy conservation project targeting students. Grants are offered for service-learning projects that improve schools or restore natural habitats. This year, grants will be awarded up to a maximum of $1,000. >>>>


Kids Gardening Logo


It’s All About the Fruits and Veggies Garden Grant Deadline is Oct. 2, 2015


It’s All About the Fruits and Veggies Grant program is open to schools, community organizations, and nonprofit programs in the United States gardening with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18. Programs will receive gardening equipment, curriculum, soil amendments, seeds, and plants to help create engaging nutrition and gardening experiences. Recipients will be selected based on plans to promote nutrition education, ideas for incorporating fruit and vegetable activities into the curriculum, and the ability to sustain the program over multiple years. >>>>




Technical Assistance for Educational Facilities Available


The Education Facilities Clearinghouse can provide technical assistance to public schools, school divisions, state education agencies, and public institutions of higher learning in the areas of school sustainability, school building environmental health, and school safety, among other topics.  Priority will be given to underserved schools and districts.  These services may be provided on-site, by telephone, or electronically. >>>>






The Green Clean Schools Leadership Summit is July 30-31 in Seattle

This summer, Healthy Schools Campaign will host the first annual Green Clean Schools Leadership Summit in Seattle, WA.  Facility managers, school decision makers, green cleaning experts, and vendors from across the nation are invited to come together in the name of healthier schools.  The summit serves as an opportunity for leaders in the field to connect, share their knowledge, and grow their programs.>>>>



Let’s Get Every Kid in a Park

Starting in September, every fourth-grader in the nation will have access to an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that’s good for free admission to all of America’s federal lands, parks, forests and waters for a full year! Learn more at Every Kid in a Park FAQ. Many children don’t visit these places because they can’t get there easily, so federal resources will be available to help schools and families arrange field trips and visits by providing key trip-planning tools, and helping to cover transportation costs for schools with the greatest financial need. >>>>




Green Apple Day of Service is September 26


The Green Apple Day of Service gives parents, teachers, students, companies, and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe, and productive learning environments through local service projects.  Check out project ideas, pick up helpful event resources, read about last year's impact, find an event in your area and register your 2015 project.  Watch this video where Secretary Duncan gets painting at a local school on Green Apple Day of Service.  >>>>



Connect with Green Strides

Green Strides: Resources for School Facilities, Health, and Environment
U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools
Facebook: @EDGreenRibbonSchools
Twitter: @EDGreenRibbon
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