ED-Green Ribbon Schools to be Honored July 22nd

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          U.S. Department of Education

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Watch Live: ED-Green Ribbon Schools to be Honored July 22

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Mike Boots, and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce Mark Schaefer will honor the 2014 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees at 2:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 22 at the U.S. Department of Commerce Herbert C. Hoover Auditorium in Washington, D.C. At the awards ceremony, Secretary Duncan will also announce the legs of the second annual Green Strides Best Practices Tour. The ED-Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees are recognized for reducing their environmental impact, including energy use, waste and water; creating healthy learning environments and fostering wellness practices; and providing effective environmental education that prepares students to succeed in the 21st century, including STEM, green careers, and civics. This event will be livestreamed at 2 p.m. ET. >>>


State Authorities Prepare for Postsecondary Sustainability Award

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) has introduced a Postsecondary Sustainability Award for 2014-2015. In the next cycle, in addition to a total of five school and district nominees, each state may nominate one postsecondary institution for exemplary achievement in all three Pillars. For this award, state selection committees are particularly encouraged to document how the nominees’ sustainability work has reduced college costs, increased completion rates, led to employment, and ensured robust civic skills among graduates; and to make an effort to consider diverse types of institutions. Interested colleges and universities should contact their state higher education authorities for information on how to apply in their states.

Like the PK-12 awards, this category is entirely voluntary. Hearing from interested colleges and universities may be helpful to state authorities considering 2014-2015 participation. State higher education authorities should contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information. They can find updated criteria and other state implementation guidance on our website. Competitions vary by state, but most states will be posting their applications for schools, districts and postsecondary institutions in 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, 2015. Interested PK-12 schools and districts should continue to contact their state education agencies about the school and district award applications. Have doubts about ED-GRS? Some Frequently Asked Questions on all three award categories are available here.


EPA Proposes National Limits on Carbon Pollution

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed for the first time national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants.  Since then, folks across the country have been weighing in on why this is so important.  With these limits, the country would see a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector.  It would also experience 25 percent less smog and soot, meaning children would have an estimated 150,000 fewer asthma attacks each year -- and they would miss an estimated 180,000 fewer days of school. Americans across the board would have up to 3,300 fewer heart attacks a year.  The EPA is accepting comments from the public about the proposed power plant rule.  Also see this infographic about the proposed limits. >>>


Green School Exemplary Practices from our 2014 Honorees


Amy Biehl Community School, Santa Fe, N.M.

Amy Biehl Community School (ABCS) leads Santa Fe Public Schools in sustainable design, energy savings, and environmental principles. The school takes pride in its outdoor nature-based learning classrooms, which engage students with the sun, landscape, flora and fauna, soils, and panoramic mountain views.  Rainfall is captured by a series of sloped metal roofs and collected into a group of cisterns; the students use the harvested rain in the community garden, sustaining the vegetables that are later consumed and enjoyed by the 68 percent free and reduced-price lunch-eligible student body.  An interactive energy and water dashboard in the lobby offers real-time building energy and water data, along with information on a variety of green features, such as the solar panels and a weather station. The local Audubon chapter partners with the staff to offer every student first-hand experiences with some aspect of ecology and the natural environment, and the local Wild Birds Unlimited helps support a bird sanctuary in one of the outdoor classroom spaces. >>>


Vancouver Public Schools, Wash.

The Vancouver Public Schools system has 37 school sites which operate at an exceptional level of efficiency, a result achieved by involving students, teachers, principals, building operators, district maintenance, custodial support services, and operations teams.  Vancouver Public Schools maintains an official green team that offers career and technical education and career tracks, and implements green practices.  Schools are leading the way with walking school busses, running clubs, outdoor learning labs, learning gardens (rain and food), and greenhouses that use the organic foods grown by students in their culinary arts programs.  Students explore hydroponics as a way to provide sustainable crops to address world hunger. In math, students learn basic surveying techniques with support from a professional surveyor and, in social studies, students learn the effect of agricultural societies on the history of the world.  Environmental information is incorporated into health classes, where students study the effect of disease on societies, and the need for clean water and sustainable natural resources throughout the world. >>>


The Greene School, R.I.  

The Greene School (TGS) is a public charter high school and Rhode Island's only Expeditionary Learning School, serving a diverse demographic of students across 19 school districts.  Developing environmental literacy is the heart of TGS.  Teachers deliver the majority of curriculum through critical environmental topics of the 21st century: energy, food, waste, biodiversity, genetics, and sustainable development.  Through multidisciplinary units called Learning Expeditions, students delve into understanding the complexity of environmental challenges as they consider solutions from diverse perspectives.  Crew, another aspect of student life at TGS, is an advisory-like structure that promotes wellness and connection to the natural world.  At the start of every school year, students participate in an overnight outdoor experience with their Crews called Wilderness.  Students hike, prepare meals, and complete service work in local Department of Environmental Management Areas.  TGS is focused on a goal of building a green campus, including a Sustainable Learning Center which will feature hands-on teaching opportunities. >>>


F. E. Burleson Elementary School, Hartselle, Ala

F. E. Burleson Elementary School (FEB) has an enrollment of 384 students, 43 percent of whom are eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch.  Students and faculty participate in Project Learning Tree, Alabama PALS, 4-H, and the Junior Master Gardener programs.  Current Junior Master Gardeners lead the school’s recycling education and remind students and staff to conserve energy.  As a result, the school’s current ENERGY STAR rating is 91.  FEB started participating in the USDA’s HeathierUS School Challenge during the 2013 school year.  Raised garden beds have provided food for students in the extended day program to take home.  FEB boasts an Alabama Certified Outdoor Classroom, providing numerous benefits for learners not found in the typical classroom setting.  This hands-on learning environment gives students an intimate glimpse into the natural world around them.  The classroom includes stations such as a greenhouse; worm composting; bird habitats, including feeding areas, watering areas, and nesting boxes; butterfly habitats and attraction areas with host and nectar plants; a Koi pond; and an amphitheater with a stage and outdoor musical instruments. >>>


Anne Hutchinson Elementary School, Eastchester, N.Y.

Anne Hutchinson School (AHS)’s mantra is “Kindness Follows Caring.”  Going green is not a trend, but a lifestyle change that has resulted in the creation of the Anne Hutchinson composting, gardening, and recycling program, initiated in January of 2012.  As a result, fewer garbage bags are used overall at the school, and an estimated 500 —1,000 pounds per week of food scraps and non-recyclable items are diverted from the trash.  Side by side, teachers and students break a sweat tending to the 400-square-foot vegetable garden, 500 square feet of mixed gardens, and 2000-square-foot wild perennial butterfly garden.  Parents are invited to participate in classroom cooking activities, and local senior citizens have been invited to partake.  Effective sustainability education is evident in myriad ways.  Students collect monarch butterfly eggs from milkweed, hatch them in classrooms, raise the caterpillars, observe the molting process as the caterpillars turn into butterflies, and then finally release them back into the butterfly garden.  >>>


Resources and Opportunities

Green Strides Webinar Series Hits 150

Believe it or not, over the past two years, the Green Strides Webinar Series has publicized over 150 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.  Sponsors include NASA, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services and Forest Service, Center for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Wildlife Federation, the National Environmental Education Foundation, Healthy Schools Campaign, US Green Building Council, Earth Day Network, the Smithsonian Institution, EarthEcho, Keep America Beautiful, Rainforest Alliance, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, among others.  This summer, check out past webinars in our archive  and this new webinar:  August 5, 2014, 3:00-5:00 p.m. National Energy Literacy Virtual Town Hall (DOE)


App of Note: Habitat the Game

The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Rainforest Alliance launched an environmental app called Habitat the Game at Central Park Zoo, New York. The free app is available on iOS, Android and tablet devices. In a fun and engaging way, the game is designed to teach seven to 12 year olds ecologically sustainable habits.  In the game, players adopt an endangered animal, and they play to keep their virtual polar bear healthy and happy. They help their bear by scoring points in mini-games and by completing real-life ‘missions’, like recycling. >>>

Share Your Story of Climate Justice in Action

On June 25th, EPA launched a summer-long Climate Justice in Action blog series, kicked off with a video from Administrator Gina McCarthy.  The series focuses on the unequal burdens climate change places on low- income and minority communities and the innovative solutions communities are taking across the country to fight climate change and prepare for its effects.  As a part of the series, EPA has created an Interactive Climate Justice Map that allows for environmental justice and climate change stakeholders from all backgrounds to upload stories about actions being taken in their communities to combat climate change. >>>


Competitions and Grants


USDA Wants to Recognize Your Efforts Reducing Food Waste.

Many schools across the country are taking steps to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste.  Some schools have created share tables allowing students to exchange food with each other conveniently.  Some schools donate nutritious, uneaten food from their cafeterias to local food banks.  There are schools – among them, U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools -- that compost their food waste or work with local farmers to do so.  However your school tackles the issue of food waste, the USDA wants to hear about it and recognize your efforts.  >>>

New Funding Opportunity: Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention

CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health released a new, competitive Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Funding Opportunity on June 18th to support surveillance activities in states, counties, and cities with the most concentrated and persistent lead poisoning issues.  Funds are expected to be awarded by the end of September 2014. Congress appropriated $15 million this year for Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention at CDC, which will support efforts to build on past success in reducing children’s blood lead levels through surveillance and primary prevention (reducing or eliminating lead sources before children are exposed). >>>


Connect with Green Strides on the Web

Green Strides: Environment, Health and Facilities at ED
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