Ceremony Celebrates Achievements; Launches School Facilities Best Practices Tour

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

Ceremony Celebrates Achievements of ED-Green Ribbon Schools

In early June, more than 300 people gathered in Washington, D.C., for a national ceremony honoring the 64 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) and the 14 recipients of the first-ever District Sustainability Award. The honored schools and districts, pictured here, represent 29 states and the District of Columbia, and have demonstrated exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including STEM, green careers and civics.

Don’t forget, state education agencies should indicate their intent to participate in next year’s competition, nominating up to four schools and a district, by emailing green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov before August 1, 2013.


ED Launches ‘Education Built to Last’ Facilities Best Practice Tour

At the Ceremony, Under Secretary Kanter and Secretary Duncan also launched the ‘Education Built to Last’ Facilities Best Practices Tour.  “Because where students learn matters as much as the who and how, the Department will be visiting ED-Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees to highlight what schools and districts can do now to ensure that their learning facilities promote achievement, health, equity, and cost savings,” they said.

The tour will spotlight best practices in school building and grounds design, construction, operations and management; health; and sustainability education in our nation’s school facilities.  It will collect input for what ED might do to encourage innovation and improvement in these areas at the state, district and school levels.  The tour will pay particular attention to how school facilities can improve the health and performance of our nation’s earliest and high poverty learners, and get students on track for the careers of the future.>>>  

More Highlights from the 2013 Honorees

Here are a few more shining examples from this year’s honorees:

Fayetteville High School, Sylacauga, AL

Linking to community resources and professional development

Partnerships with FarmLinks, Inc., a local family-owned business and Auburn University’s horticulture department have provided on-site professional development for teachers in a range of environmental content areas, and have shown teachers how to link environmental content to language arts, design, and technology.  In addition, these strategic partnerships have led to the creation of the Fayetteville School Foundation, through which over $250,000 in monetary and in-kind services have been donated to develop planting areas, establish a native tree grove, build a children’s sensory garden, provide vegetable plots and local dairy products, and launch recycling programs.>>


Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School, New Haven, CT

Core curriculum integration: water, energy, migration and a local estuary

Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School serves students from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade, including nearly 82 percent minorities, with 62 percent eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch.  When you enter Barnard’s lobby, far from signs of economic challenge, you see a powerful environmental studies theme that runs throughout the school: student artwork, brightening and inspiring, decorates the corridors and illustrates the school’s four overarching environmental themes: the studies of fresh water, energy, migration, and the Long Island Sound estuary. >>


Guion Creek Middle School, Indianapolis, IN

Geothermal savings and dramatically improved water efficiency

Guion Creek Middle School is located in Pike’s Township, a residential suburban community of Indianapolis, IN.  The school is one of three middle schools in Pike’s Township with over 73 percent of the students receiving free or reduced lunch. Guion Creek’s newly installed geothermal heat pump provides 45 percent of the school’s energy consumption, substantially lowering its natural gas use.  With the additional benefit of lower maintenance costs and time requirements, school facilities personnel have more time to focus on other needs in the building.  The school has reduced water usage by 41 percent, its greenhouse gas emissions by 19 percent and its energy consumption by 50 percent.  >>>  

Glacier Park Elementary School, Maple Valley, WA

Young environmental steward-bards star in “Come Back Salmon!”

Glacier Park provides students with outdoor learning opportunities that help them grow into good stewards of their environment.  Students work in Glacier Park’s vegetable garden, pick up litter, participate in planning and maintenance of the rain garden and conduct scientific observations.  They study forestry, learn about renewable resources, and learn about government legislation to preserve natural resources such as nearby Shadow Lake Bog.  They observe and map storm water on school grounds, and examine the function of a rain garden.   Glacier Park integrates environmental education with other subjects using activities such as the dramatic production “Come Back Salmon!” >>>  

Events and Opportunities

June is Great Outdoors Month, when President Obama encourages us to celebrate America’s public lands and take part in outdoor activities.  State and local parks are hosting thousands of Great Outdoors Month events nationwide.  As part of the festivities, Great Outdoors America Week, from June 24th - 27th, with this year’s theme of “Conservation and the Outdoor Economy” will bring together private and public sectors, stakeholders, citizens, and youth to raise environmental awareness, promote ecotourism, and advocate for a more “outdoor-centric” way-of-life.  Washington D.C. events during the week include policy briefings, volunteer opportunities and a ‘Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival and Walk’ on the National Mall.>>>

Applications for ED’s inaugural Principal Ambassador Fellowship program are now available online.   Principal Ambassadors are outstanding principals with a record of leadership, strong communication skills, and policy insight who contribute their school leadership expertise to the national dialogue and in turn facilitate discussions with educators across the country. The fellowship a paid position enabling principals to participate on a part-time basis from their home locations.  The application deadline is July 16, 2013.>>>

Grades of Green Youth Corps  Are you interested in taking care of the environment? Do you like to organize fun events and activities? Would you like to learn how to be a better leader? If so, you may be a good candidate for the Grades of Green Youth Corps! Any student in 1st through 12th grade is eligible.>>

Spotlight on Energy Resources


 Solutions Center is the home for U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Technical Assistance Program, which provides state, local, and tribal officials with resources to advance successful, high impact, and long lasting clean energy policies, programs, and projects, including Webcasts and Energy 101 videos.  Its Better Buildings Alliance identifies specific barriers to achieving energy efficiency and work with the DOE researchers and technical experts to develop and deploy innovative solutions.  

Energy Education

American’s Home Energy Education Challenge is a fun way for students in grades 3-8 to learn about energy conservation. The challenge runs during the 2013-2014 school year and registration closes November 15, 2013. Teams of students will win over $60,000 competing in the Home Energy Challenge and Energy Poster Competition. Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network is a collection of educational resources meant to help students’ understand the core ideas in climate and energy science.  The National Energy Education Development Project has a large library of energy curriculum on a wide range of energy topics and is differentiated between primary, elementary, intermediate and secondary levels. Connect! Transform the Future allows players to design and create their own energy-efficient city of the future.  DOE Energy Education and Workforce Development provides a wealth of information about energy K-12 curriculum, workforce development, and STEM activities. For example, take a look at the Renewable Energy Competency Model, Green Job Fact Sheets, and Energy Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts for Energy Education

Other New Environmental Education Opportunities

Designing a Resilient Community is the Center for Ecoliteracy's new downloadable activity that enables high school students assess their community's ability to respond to crises and then develop ideas for enhancing its resilience.>>>




ClimateChangeLIVE is a new U.S. Forest Service distance learning initiative to educate, engage, and inspire students to be part of the climate change solution with resources from 18 partners tied to national education standards, with an interactive website, webinars and webcasts planned for the coming school year.>>>


Spotlight on Health Resources

Food Day: Get Food Education in Every School is a national initiative to raise awareness about the critical importance of food education in schools across America on Oct. 24, 2013. Created by Food Day and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, the initiative offers resources to help schools integrate food education into curriculum.>>>

EPA’s Environmental Health Research Grant seeks applicants for $1 million grants that will span 4 years.   Public and private non-profit organizations are eligible to apply to the program, designed to fund research that will inform K-12 schools’ building design, construction and operation practices to foster safe and healthy environments and maximize student achievement.   Applications are due Oct. 8, 2013.>>>

Environmental Law Institute: Overview of State Environmental Health Laws provides a snapshot of how state policies have addressed several school indoor environmental quality issues – mold, radon, carbon monoxide, vehicle idling, green cleaning, IAQ & renovations, and school IAQ management plans.  The resource includes citations to and summaries of state laws and regulations, so that those interested in school environmental health can easily find out how their own and other state policymakers have tackled these important issues.>>>


ED’s Green Strides Webinar Series continues with the tools to reduce schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental literacy, including STEM, green careers, and civic engagement. Find more sessions for educators, facilities managers, and advocates weekly. >>> 

June 26, 2013, 4-5 p.m. BioDiversity Discovery: Creating Next Generation Standards (NPS)

July 23, 2013, 3-4 p.m. Integrated Pest Management: Protecting Kids from Pests and Pesticides (EPA)

July 24, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Recycle-Bowl Competition and Educational Resources (KAB)

July 30, 2013, 2-3 p.m. Green Cleaning Award for Schools & Universities (HSC)


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