Time to Contact State Authorities for ’16 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Applications

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the News

ED-GRS Tour 2014 Colorado
Former Colorado Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond visits with students at Denver Green School on the 2014 Green Strides Tour

States Launch U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Competitions

State education authorities are launching their 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) competitions with deadlines to submit to them in the winter.  For applications, interested colleges and universities should contact their state higher education authorities, while schools and districts should contact their state education agencies.  Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions are only eligible if nominated by state authorities; they cannot apply directly to ED. State education authorities’ participation is voluntary. Not every state has run a competition and nominated candidates every year of the award.  Hearing from interested applicants can be helpful to those states considering participation.  State education authorities can find updated criteria and other state implementation guidance on our website and should contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.


Meet More of 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:

Timber Creek
Timber Creek's extended school year program uses herbs and vegetables from its organic garden, part of the curriculum, in recipes that provide lunch for the 80 participating students.

Timber Creek Regional High School, Erial, N.J.

Timber Creek Regional High School produces a whopping 58 percent of its energy onsite with a 1.3 megawatt solar array.  The school’s wellness coordinator organizes biometric screenings, conducts health risk assessments, and establishes weekly goals for individual staff members.  Timber Creek has an organic raised-bed garden, which was supplied with plants nurtured from seeds of two sister high schools’ greenhouses, and constructed from untreated, repurposed solar panel wood shipping boxes.  The garden is supported by a 300-gallon off-grid rain collection system that collects roof rainwater and uses a 12-volt battery recharged with solar to power a pump with a capacity of four gallons per minute.  Garden produce goes to the cafeteria, culinary classes, local food banks, and community senior centers.  Timber Creek is also home to a Rutgers Cooperative rain garden and bioswales.  Composting is collected by Organic Diversion, a company that coaches students and staff on how to collect materials, and provides the school with reports on collection quantities and strategies to improve composting and recycling efforts.  The compost is used in the science curriculum, where students study microbes and decomposition rates.  In chemistry, topics include alternative energy, environmental chemistry, and global warming.  Students learn about food contamination, organic foods, healthy food choices, and composting in the nutrition, culinary, and hospitality courses.  Environmental Science classes study climate change, fossil fuels, and alternative energy sources.  Biology classes address the relationships between resource use and sustainable development and how humans impact the diversity and stability of ecosystems.  Art students use trash, newspapers, recycled materials, drips of paint, and found items to create sculptures and paintings.  >>>>

River Trails Middle School, IL
Representatives from River Trails Middle School receive their accolades at June 3rd Washington, DC ceremony. RTMS was the only school nominated by the state of IL in 2015.

River Trails Middle School, Mt. Prospect, Ill.

At River Trails Middle School (RTMS), students use a STEM lab to control renewable energy and see their building’s environmental impact in real time.  Through a partnership with Trane Corporation, they examine differences in energy consumption.  Data from a solar panel and a weather station is tied into the heating and air-conditioning system so that students can perform experiments on temperature, electricity, and energy use.  Social studies classes explore how government and business policies affect the environment through the course of history.  The school was named the Illinois Grand Prize winner by Fuel Up to Play 60 in the For Love of Play contest, which empowers students to make small, everyday changes to get healthy and physically fit by choosing healthy foods and getting active for at least 60 minutes every day.  Students rotate through 14 fitness or nutrition stations including: yoga, a rhythm movement activity, nutrition demonstration, and science experiments on sugars found in food.  RTMS students run more than two miles a week, participate in intramural and competitive athletics, and workout on treadmills and ellipticals in the fitness room.  A national pilot program with Northwestern University brings college athletes on monthly visits to RTMS to promote fitness, sports, and athletic leadership.  Healthy offerings at lunch include a large selection of local fruits and vegetables, a salad bar, induction burners, steamers, and a carving station.  Eighth grade culminates with a 10-mile bike trip to Lake Arlington for kayaking, biking, volleyball, and softball.  As part of the Family Literacy Program, English-language learning parents and children practice language skills through a variety of healthy living classes that involve composting, growing cold weather vegetables, starting seedlings indoors, and sharing cooking experiences.  >>>>

Western Technical
Western Technical College has created a sustainability marketing campaign with the slogan, It’s Easy Being Green,” to raise awareness, reward involvement, conduct audits, and collect data, in order to improve conservation efforts and change habits.

Western Technical College, La Crosse, Wisc.

In 2007, Western Technical College signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment.  In 2010, Western launched its Energy Conservation Management Program, followed in 2011 by approval of a collegewide Sustainable Culture Policy.  It uses a locally manufactured geothermal water pump to heat and cool one facility, and a reuse system provides water for toilets, landscape irrigation, and firefighting tanker truck refilling.  Western’s food service program uses reusable food containers and cups for water, ceramic plates, and silverware.  Staff weigh and track preconsumer food waste and donate leftover food to local shelters. New construction on all campuses must meet or exceed the LEED Silver certification standard.  Three of Western’s buildings are LEED-certified Silver; two are certified Gold; and one building under construction is expected to meet Platinum standards.  Western’s Hydro Power Station produces energy through a water turbine and the college has installed a Konvekta heat recovery system in the kitchen facilities that has reduced natural gas consumption by 68 percent.  About 40 percent of existing courses have incorporated sustainability, and the Sustainability Coordinator is working to ensure that all courses incorporate the importance of sustainability by 2018.  In 2011, Western created the Sustainability Institute, which helps identify and share best practices and educate the community at large.  The Institute implements the MPower Program to help businesses and other organizations reduce environmental impact while saving costs and creating healthier, more engaging work and community spaces.  Western’s living laboratories offer experiential learning for students across multiple disciplines.  The college’s passive house has provided local builders the chance to build to these rigorous standards, and encourage homeowners to consider this model.  >>>>

Cherokee County School District teachers check a water sample at Buckeye Creek Farm as part of a two-day professional development class on creating and sustaining school gardens.

Cherokee County School District, Georgia

Since 2004, new construction in CCSD has included architectural designs with a focus on energy-efficiency; long-lasting, low-maintenance construction materials; high-efficiency lighting and controls; energy management controls throughout facilities; reflective metal roof systems; and computer shutdown of utilities.  A new feature for school construction has been the use of polished concrete flooring, which eliminates the need for vinyl materials and cleaning chemicals.  New playground construction uses recycled rubber, which eliminates the need for irrigation and mulch replacement.  Every school participates in a recycling program.  Many schools have set up composting as part of their campus gardens and outdoor classrooms.  The district has been a Clean Air Campaign partner for four years and is committed to continuous implementation of practices to improve air quality.  Through a 2011 grant from EPA, CCSD retrofitted all school buses purchased prior to 2007 with the latest exhaust-reduction devices including diesel oxidation catalyst mufflers.  The district won a Georgia Department of Transportation Safe Routes to Schools grant to encourage walking and bicycling to school in order to reduce car and bus traffic, reduce emissions, and increase physical activity.  Outdoor classrooms, gardens, and nature trails are popular at CCSD campuses to promote environmental and sustainability education.  Environmental clubs and green clubs are offered districtwide.  Garden clubs also are growing in numbers districtwide, with many clubs partnering with community organizations such as the Master Gardeners, County Extension Office, and Farm Bureau. >>>>


Resources and Opportunities

Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues All Summer Long

The Green Strides Webinar Series promotes sessions offered by federal agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide free tools to reduce schools' environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education.  This summer, check out the new webinar calendar and submit suggestions of webinars regarding school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov so that we may promote them.


August 3, 2015, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Exploring Ice in the Solar System (NASA)

August 4, 2015, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Robotics in the Classroom (NASA)

August 4, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. How School Districts Are Saving Money (EPA)

August 5, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Transitioning to After School Meals (USDA)

August 6, 2015, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.  NASA Engineering Design Challenges (NASA)

August 11, 2015, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Introduction to CHPS (CHPS)

August 11, 2015, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.  Green Cleaning Award (HSC)

August 12, 2015, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.  Don’t Mess with Mercury (ATSDR)

August 19, 2015, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Integrating Engineering into Science (NASA)

August 20, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  How to Apply for the ENERGY STAR (EPA)

August 20, 2015, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.  What’s This Drought Stuff About?  (NASA)

August 25, 2015, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.  Operation Report Card (CHPS)

August 25, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

August 26, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

August 27, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)


PLUM Landing logo

Resource Spotlight: Plum Landing Explores Your World, One Mission at a Time

Plum Landing is an environmental science project that helps kids develop a love for, and connection to, this planet we call home.  Plum Landing invites kids ages six to nine to get to know their world through a collection of fun and engaging games, apps, videos, and hands-on science activities. Media resources for teachers include extension ideas that encourage kids to put down their devices and head outdoors to explore their world, real-life explorations, activities, and educational content focused on the environments that Plum and her human friends explore.  >>>>


Proposals to Promote School Integrated Pest Management Due Aug. 10th  

EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs is soliciting proposals to provide education, training, resources and technical assistance to increase Integrated Pest Management (IPM) implementation in kindergarten to 12th grade schools nationwide. The grantee will conduct a national program, using its existing organizational structure and established relationships with school districts throughout the United States, to further IPM adoption by schools. >>>>

United Nations Agriculture Organization

Submissions for the World Food Day Art Contest Due Sept. 30th

The World Food Day Poster Contest is one of the oldest United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization outreach projects involving students across the globe.  Since its launch, the World Food Day poster contest has inspired thousands of children and young people to put their creativity and talents to work and figure out ways to fight poverty and hunger in their countries.  The 2015 theme is social protection and the deadline is Sept. 30th.  >>>>



Green Apple logo

Green Apple Day of Service is September 26th

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.  >>>>

NAAEE logo

The North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference is Oct. 15-18th in San Diego

The North American Association for Environmental Education has its annual conference Oct. 14-18th in San Diego under the theme of “Building a Stronger and More Inclusive Movement.”  Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical success factors for everyone working in the field of environmental education. This year's conference will explore ways to enrich and expand this work and workforce, along with other strategies for strengthening the field and achieving greater collective impact.  Strands include: Conservation and Education; Environmental Education in Urban Settings; Inspiring Connections to the Outdoors; Research-Based Practice in Environmental Education; Teaching About Environmental Issues and Systems Thinking; Greening Pre-K–12, Higher Education, and Vocational Training.  >>>>

Food Day logo

Food Day is Oct. 24th, 2015

Every October 24th, thousands of events all around the country bring Americans together to celebrate and enjoy real food and to encourage improved food policies.  It’s a day to resolve to make changes in diets and to take action to solve food-related problems in our communities at the local, state, and national level. This annual event involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.  This year, Food Day has the theme "Toward a Greener Diet."  Hundreds of events are being planned on and around October 24th in all 50 states.  >>>>

AASHE logo

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Annual Conference is Oct. 25 – 28th in Minneapolis

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2015 Conference & Expo, themed Transforming Sustainability Education, will convene a diverse group of campus representatives including faculty, students, sustainability officers, staff, administrators and presidents together with business, non-profit, government and community members for a sustainable celebration.  >>>>

Green Build Logo

Greenbuild is Nov. 18-20th in Washington, DC

Greenbuild 2015 is gearing up to be a Monumental Green event scheduled to take place Nov. 18-20th in Washington, DC.  Greenbuild is the premier event for sustainable building, featuring three days of uplifting speakers, networking opportunities, showcases, LEED workshops and tours of green buildings, Greenbuild offers a place for thousands to gather and renew their commitment to the green movement.  >>>>


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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