Only A Few More Weeks to Apply to Your State for Sustainability Recognition!

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides



2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Application Deadlines Near

Most participating state education authorities have December submission deadlines for 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), with some falling in November or January.  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.  State education authorities’ participation is voluntary.  Hearing from interested applicants may be helpful to those states considering participation.  State education authorities can find updated criteria and other state implementation guidance on our website and may contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.

AD GRS Ceremony
The green schools community thanks outgoing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for his commitment to sustainable schools and welcomes incoming Acting Secretary of Education John King Jr.

Meet More of the 2015 Honorees

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

University of Minnesota, Morris, Morris, Minn.

Morris is featured in top sustainability rankings, including the Princeton Review Top 322 Green Schools and Sierra Club Cool Schools.  It holds AASHE STARS Gold rating and received the Second Nature Climate Leadership Award.  The university cut its carbon footprint by 40 percent between 2005 and 2012.  Two 1.65 megawatt wind turbines produce 10 million kWh of electrical power annually, meeting 60 percent of the electrical needs for the campus.  A 32-unit solar thermal array heats the fitness center pool.  Two solar photovoltaic systems on campus generate more than 30,000 kWh annually.  A biomass gasifier plant on campus uses local natural resources to heat and cool the campus.  The newly renovated Welcome Center and the Green Prairie Community Residence Hall both received a LEED Gold rating.  The university has reduced waste by 60 tons per year.  Morris is the lead partner of the Morris Healthy Eating Initiative, which focuses on improving health outcomes in the community.  Faculty and staff have the option to participate in a bike commuter program, and the university works with the city of Morris to support local transit.  The school is working to increase the fuel economy of its fleet, which is now 40 percent low-emission hybrid.  Morris is home to the Center for Small Towns, which connects students and communities to create sustainable solutions and has both environmental studies and environmental science majors.  Among Morris academic disciplines, 78 percent offer at least one sustainability course, and 23 percent of Morris faculty perform sustainability-related research or activities.  Morris has an active summer program called Wind-STEP, which engages Native American students in science and engineering with a focus on wind development. >>>>

UN MN Morris
Representatives from the University of Minnesota, Morris accept their award at the 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award ceremony in Washington, DC last June.

Oxford School District, Oxford, Miss.

The Oxford School District (OSD)'s strategic plan specifically references energy efficiency, environmental education, and health.  OSD was chosen to participate in the Alliance to Save Energy’s green schools program.  After this two-year program concluded, OSD partnered with Oxford Electric to keep up the effort.  As a result of a partnership with Johnson Controls, the newly constructed Oxford High School (OHS) is on its way to being the first LEED-certified high school in Mississippi and is anticipated to have more than $6,000,000 in overall energy cost savings over the next 15 years.  Around the district, lavatories with timed sensors and low-flow toilets and urinals conserve water.  Onsite water retention lowers the burden on the local established natural infrastructure.  Recycling of plastic, paper, and cardboard is practiced at every school.  OSD partnered with the City of Oxford Pathways Commission to develop biking and walking lanes dedicated for student transportation around and between school campuses.  Through Good Food for Oxford Schools, all school gardens are built into natural landscapes with rain barrels and irrigation systems in place.  OSD school cafeterias have increased cooking from scratch menu items from 40 percent to 75 percent, while increasing local purchasing for cafeteria menus, including a Harvest of the Month.  Schools now have salad bars and combi-ovens instead of deep-fat fryers.  School gardens engage students in a hands-on and interactive manner, promoting scientific investigation and critical thinking.  Each school campus has a green team that involves the whole school in the energy conservation effort by learning about green careers.  >>>>

Oxford School District
Oxford students at Bramlett Elementary School water seedlings they planted with assistance from Good Food for Oxford Schools. Oxford School District’s eight school campuses each have their own school garden and use the produce in the cafeteria.

The Steward School, Richmond, Va.

At the Steward School, students are encouraged to understand world issues through the natural and built environment, health and wellness, and energy and resources.  Students study erosion in math, earthquake mechanics in science, and environmental policy change in English.  Students are involved in shaping the environmental policy of the school; they research idling, carbon offsets, and compare energy use across the campus.  The school educates about health and wellness with yoga, self-defense, nutrition, cooking, nutrition, sleep, and physiology.  Sixth graders design alternative transportation for Richmond and 5th graders test soil quality around campus.  Students grow cotton and see how it is made into clothes.  Steward School offers a series of community educational events, and has reached over a thousand people.  In 2013, Steward School completed the construction of a 6200-square-foot facility called the Bryan Innovation Lab.  It stands as a living classroom for students to engage in learning world systems in an innovative way.  Its design includes native meadows, diverse natural forest, student gardens, retention ponds, rain gardens, and filtered storm drains.  The building itself is made of sustainable materials, and has abundant alternative energy systems such as photovoltaic panels, geothermal wells, radiant heat flooring, rainwater cisterns, and hot-water solar panels.  The goal of the Bryan Innovation Lab is to educate about the natural and the built environment with biomimicry lessons, design challenges, nature trails, wildlife reserves, and retention ponds.  >>>>

The Steward School
Bryan Innovation Lab Academic Dean Laura Akesson conducts a lesson using a Ruben’s Tube (a standing wave flame) set to music.

Rogers International School, Stamford, Conn.

At Rogers International School, educational units have environmental and health themes, such as nutrition, energy, and recycling, that help to engage students in active learning.  Second-graders learn about soil and plant growth through outdoor exploration, as well as nutrition, natural resources, and conservation.  Students in fourth grade learn about ecosystems, energy circuits and power, oceans and conservation, trash, overfishing, and climate change.  In fifth grade, classes cover renewable energy and ecology.  Students in eighth grade have an extensive energy unit, and participate in Trout in the Classroom.  Rogers works closely with the Greenwich Audubon, which typically holds three to four schoolwide assemblies per year.  Students take trips to the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, the Long Island Sound education facility SoundWaters, eeSmarts energy efficiency learning center, and the Bartlett Arboretum.  Rogers’ building is LEED Silver certified, with sustainable features including dual-flush toilets, low-VOC paint, solar panels, a rooftop garden that is irrigated by a rainwater retention system, a cooling system using ice storage technology, and a self-sustaining ecosystem surrounding the school.  The school grounds have been designated a Wildlife Sanctuary by the National Audubon Society, and the natural meadow and marsh habitat that surrounds the school is an official U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Schoolyard Habitat.  >>>>

Rogers Inter. School
Everett Dolan, 9, of Stamford determines how much electricity his family uses at the Conservation Quest Mini Exhibit, which inspires children to make thoughtful choices about energy use.

Resources and Opportunities

Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues All Fall

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.  Check out the webinar calendar and submit suggestions of free webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to for promotion.


Nov. 03, 2015, 3:00-4:00 pm  Chefs Move to Schools Webinar Series: Meal Pattern (HSC)

Nov. 05, 2015, 1:00-2:00 pm  Nature’s Voices Project (GSA)

Nov. 09, 2015, 6:30-7:30 pm  Fly by Math- Smart Skies (NASA)

Nov. 10, 2015, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

Nov. 10, 2015, 2:00-3:00 pm  Intro. to Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)

Nov. 10, 2015, 2:00-3:30 pm  Writing an IPM Policy for your School District (EPA)

Nov. 10, 2015, 3:00-4:00 pm  HealthierUS School Challenge (HSC)

Nov. 11, 2015, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Nov. 11, 2015, 6:00-7:00 pm  Forces and Motion of Flight: Rocketry 101 (NASA)

Nov. 12, 2015, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 301(EPA)

Nov. 12, 2015, 6:30-7:30 pm  Breaking Barriers (NASA)

Nov. 16, 2015, 6:30-7:30 pm  Line Up with Math - Smart Skies (NASA)

Nov. 17, 2015, 2:00-3:00 pm  Collaborative for High Performance Schools Verified (CHPS)

Nov. 23, 2015, 6:30-7:30 pm  Motion Laws and the Solar System (NASA)

Nov. 24, 2015, 6:30-7:30 pm  Four Forces & the Principles of Flight (NASA)


U.S. EPA’s Urban Waters Small Grants Program Requests Proposals by November 20

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting proposals that will advance EPA’s water quality and environmental justice goals. Projects should address local water quality issues related to urban runoff pollution; provide additional community benefits; actively engage underserved communities; and foster partnership.  EPA expects each award, likely two to three, to range from $40,000 to $60,000. >>>>

Nature Voices's Project logo

Nature’s Voices Wants to Tell Students’ Green Schools Story: Submit by December 20

Natures Voices is seeking personal and inspiring stories about students’ green schools experiences. Share your journey to becoming a green schools youth leader by December 20th and win a trip to the Green Schools National Conference  March 31-April 2nd in Pittsburgh, PA with paid travel and hotel.  >>>>


Register for Department of Energy’s BioenergizeME Challenge by Feb. 4, 2016

In the 2016 BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge, high school-aged teams use technology to research, interpret, apply, and then design an infographic that responds to one of four cross-curricular bioenergy topics. Register by February 4, 2016, to test your knowledge and creativity along with student teams across the country. Submissions are due March 4, 2016. Selected infographics will be featured on the challenge website, and one team will be selected to present at the Bioenergy Technologies Office's 2016 annual conference in Washington, D.C. >>>>

Seven logo

Enter the World of 7 Billion Student Video Contest by Feb. 25, 2016

Create a short video about human population growth that highlights one of the following global challenges: Deforestation, Public Health, or Water Scarcity. All videos must include how population growth impacts the issue and at least one idea for a sustainable solution.  The deadline for submissions is February 25, 2016.  >>>>



For College Students:  Sign Up to Be EcoLeaders

The NWFs Campus Ecology program has been working with colleges and universities for more than 25 years to protect wildlife and habitat through campus sustainability efforts. The NWF EcoLeaders Initiative is an online community that offers students the space to create, to share and to be recognized for their leadership efforts and for sustainability projects and campaigns.  >>>>

EFC logo

Technical Assistance for Educational Facilities Available

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



America Recycles Day is Nov. 15

Sponsored by Keep America Beautiful, America Recycles Day promotes and celebrates recycling.  This year’s America Recycles Day theme, “Bathroom, Bags, and Gadgets,” focuses on bathroom products, plastic bags, and electronics recycling to educate on some of the less commonly recycled products.  Get ideas and register your event. >>>>

GSC logo

Mark Your Calendar for the Green Schools Conference & Expo in Pittsburgh

The Green Schools Conference & Expo brings together educators, school administrators, business and community leaders, nonprofit partners, green building professionals, students, parents, and many others. Make note of the sixth annual conference and expo scheduled for March 31-April 1. Early registration begins November 12.  >>>>

CNN Conf logo

The Children and Nature Conference is May 25-27 in Saint Paul, Minn.

The Children and Nature Network 2016 Summit and Conference will take place May 25-27 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  Join leaders and innovators from around the globe to learn, connect, envision and build the future of the children and nature movement at this annual international conference.  The conference provides opportunities to engage with leaders from a wide-range of sectors and peers to learn about cutting edge initiatives, share lessons learned, activate collaboration, spark new connections, and chart a path for expanding and growing the movement.  Early registration has begun.  >>>>


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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