ED Celebrates Five Years of Green Schools and Announces Green Strides Tour in PA

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

ED Celebrates Five Years of School, District, & Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees


ED Honors 2016 School, District, & Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees in DC

On July 20th, the 2016 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.  Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews, Federal Chief Sustainability Officer Christine Harada, Deputy Director of the Center for Green Schools at the USGBC Anisa Baldwin-Metzger, and Secretary of Education John King congratulated honorees and announced the relaunch of the Green Strides Tour, which will head to Pennsylvania this fall.  

You can view video and photos from the ceremony, reception, and iPad photo booth.  Read the press release, blogs (“Celebrating Five Years of Incentivizing Sustainable Schools Practices” and “Why I can’t Wait to Get Back to the Green Strides Tour”) and the Director’s closing remarks.  We invite you to share ceremony photos and impressions with us on Twitter (EDGreenRibbon) and Facebook (EDGreenRibbonSchools) using hashtag #EDGRSCeremony or #EDGreenRibbon.

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Representatives from Whitehouse School in Whitehouse Station, NJ receive their award during the 2016 recognition awards ceremony on July 20th in Washington, D.C. Whitehouse convened its first school-level green team in 2011, and teachers worked with students to offer an assembly where an “energy hog” was introduced as an analogy for environmentally unsustainable behaviors.
Thank you

Thank You, Sponsors!

Thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for providing a wonderful venue at the Department of Commerce for the third ceremony in a row and to the Center for Green Schools for generously offering the evening reception.  We are grateful to the Green Schools National Network, Green Schools, and National Wildlife Federation, plaque and tour sponsors. Thanks also go to partners offering activities: the Department of Energy, National Park Service, ED Office of Non-Public Education, and Office of the Under Secretary.  Finally, ED offers its sincerest appreciation to state education agency personnel who spearhead award selection in each state.

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State Authorities Prepare for 2016-2017 Award Cycle

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 initiated an annual tour spotlighting the practices of honorees and launched a Green Strides portal with resources for all schools to employ.  The 2013-2014 cycle named 48 school and 9 district honorees and introduced the Director’s Award to honor state officials advancing school sustainability.  In 2015, the Postsecondary Sustainability Award debuted, with nine colleges and universities, 14 districts, and 58 schools recognized, and saw the revamping of Green Strides.  This year, the award honored 47 schools, 15 districts, 11 postsecondary institutions, and one state official.

For 2016-2017, 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, 2017 and 2017 honorees will be announced on April 24th, 2017.  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 2016 Honorees

Summer is a great time to take inspiration from the 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.  Make plans for sustainability projects in the coming year and learn more about their work on Green Strides.

University of Montevallo, Montevallo, Ala.

Founded in 1896, the University of Montevallo (UM) was the first university in Alabama to implement a Green Fund.  From the use of energy management software, to major upgrades to the central plant, to solar-powered pedestrian crossing signage, the University uses strategies of all magnitudes to reduce effect on the environment.   Renovations and upgrades in existing buildings including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning changes; window, lighting, and solar shade installation; and roof and insulation replacements have resulted in numerous efficiencies and improvements in electricity, gas, and steam savings, as well as reductions in water usage, heat gain, and energy loss.  Facilities and security staff employ a fleet of electric vehicles.  The “Table to Garden to Table” initiative reduces food waste by composting unused vegetable matter from the cafeteria to fertilize the UM organic community garden.  Produce grown in garden is donated to local families in need.  Two mason bee hives were installed in 2014.  UM recently added wellness amenities at University Lake, including canoes, kayaks, and a 1.3-mile fitness trail with 10 exercise stations.  UM and the city of Montevallo partnered in 2011 to create the first citywide bike sharing program in the state of Alabama.  Montevallo offers a minor in Environmental Studies with an option to major through the Interdisciplinary Studies Program.  Since 2011, the university’s Environmental Stewardship Award has honored students for their academic achievement, service, and leadership potential.  The James Shepherd Wylie Observatory is the region’s premiere, completely accessible telescope, in a complex designed to meet LEED Platinum standards.  >>>>

Univ. of Montevallo, AL
Students in a Montevallo class on public art designed and created unique bike racks that not only promote physical activity and environmental responsibility, but also help further beautify the already unique campus.

Hellgate High School, Missoula, Mont.

Hellgate High School has served the community of Missoula, Montana for over 108 years.  The sustainability initiative at Hellgate High School is guided and driven by Hellgate High School’s environmental group, known as Students Against the Violation of Earth (S.A.V.E.), which includes recycling, composting, gardening/earth week, and grant writing committees, each with a student chair and supporting member students.  Instead of having just one day devoted to sustainability, the school hosts an entire Earth Week of events, including a celebrated "Trashion" Show.  The school works with local community partners to incorporate sustainable features and programs, such as the rooftop garden and solar panels.  Students work with the Montana Conservation Corps to build trails, and Habitat for Humanity to build homes.  Hellgate also hosts leaders of sustainability from around the country to speak about sustainability, such as individuals from the U.S. Green Building Council, NWF, and the U.S. Forest Service.  Hellgate has a well-developed recycling and resource efficiency program that includes solar panels and composter.  The school has used its energy audit and data collection as a basis for ongoing analysis and the creation of an energy management plan.  Hellgate currently has an ENERGY STAR rating of 77.  The school hosted Montana Crunch Time, a statewide celebration of local foods.  Students engage in experiential and place-based learning activities that enable them to incorporate sustainability topics into their life experience.  >>>>

Hellgate HS
Hellgate students engage in experiential and place-based learning activities that enable them to incorporate sustainability topics into their life experience, including an annual “Trashion” show.

Park Forest Elementary School, State College, Pa.

Park Forest Elementary School (PFE) tracks resource usage in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, beginning with a score of 73 and progressing to 84.  The school has reduced its waste footprint greatly in its move toward zero waste.  PFE participates in the Earth Force service action program, whereby students identify a problem and work collaboratively to address it.  PFE garnered a three-year grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that allowed the school to establish a professional development model that encouraged the use of the schoolyard.  Efforts include a nature trail, greenhouse, composting program, raised bed gardens, a cold frame, honeybee hives, rain gardens and wetlands, a pollinator garden, bluebird and bat boxes, an amphitheater, weather stations, an interactive sundial, and an animal observation area.  Each year, students participate in Apple Crunch Day, Walk to School Day, and Go for the Greens.  With the support of a grant, the physical education teacher purchased bicycles to teach bicycle safety and recreational riding to all fifth graders.  Twenty-five percent of food served in the cafeteria is locally grown.  >>>>

Park Forest ES, PA
Using the four lenses of community, democracy, inquiry, and environment, PFE works to provide opportunities for all learners to engage meaningfully in authentic learning experiences. Park Forest hosts an annual schoolwide campout.

Resources and Opportunities

Kids Gardening

The 2016 Eat Learn Live and Grow School Garden Grant Application Deadline is Aug. 31

Planting the seeds of health and wellness, the 2016 Eat, Learn, Live, and Grow Grant sponsored by Chartwells K12 in partnership with KidsGardening.org offers funding for schools seeking to enhance their curriculum and offer food and nutrition education through an edible garden program.  Any public or private school serving students in grades K to 12 and planning a new or expanding an established garden program is eligible to apply.  >>>>


Spotlight on A Resource:  The Learning Lab, Available Free Until Sept. 1

Learning Lab is a new online education platform that provides K-12 teachers and school leaders with comprehensive project- and STEM-based curriculum encouraging student leadership, sustainability literacy, and real-world action. The catalog, which includes 320+ lessons in English and Spanish, is accessible for free before September 1, so be sure to check it out, and learn more or contact learninglab@usgbc.org for more information about accessing best-in-class sustainability education resources in the coming school year.  >>>>

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Apply for a GreenWorks! Environmental Education Grant by Sept. 30

Project Learning Tree offers grants up to $1,000 to schools and youth organizations for environmental service-learning projects that link classroom learning to the real world. Students implement an action project they help design to green their school or to improve an aspect of their neighborhood’s environment.  The projects partner students with their whole school, local businesses and/or community organizations, and provide opportunities for student leadership. >>>>

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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.  >>>>

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Recycle-Bowl and America Recycles Day Open Registration

Keep America Beautiful offers two fall events to educate and engage school communities. School registration opens Aug. 1 for the Recycle-Bowl (Oct. 17- Nov. 15) competition or to register an America Recycles Day (Nov. 15) event.  >>>>


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues This Summer

The Green Strides Webinar Series promotes sessions that provide free tools to reduce schools' environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education.  Consult the webinar calendar and submit suggestions of free webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov for listing.

August 02, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  NASA Resources for Home School (NASA)

August 03, 2016, 12 -12:30 pm  Portfolio Manager - Ask The Expert (EPA)

August 10, 2016, 12 -12:30 pm  Portfolio Manager - Ask The Expert (EPA)

August 11, 2016, 1:00-2:30 pm  Finding Solutions for Hard-to-Recycle Items (CURC)

August 11, 2016, 6:00-7:00 pm  Real NASA Data:  Discovering New Planets (NASA)

August 17, 2016, 12 -12:30 pm  Portfolio Manager - Ask The Expert (EPA)

August 23, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

August 24, 2016, 12 -12:30 pm  Portfolio Manager - Ask The Expert (EPA)

August 24, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

August 24, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Kids Impacting Community Policy (Safe Routes to School)

August 25, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

August 25, 2016, 6:00-7:00 pm  Real NASA Data:  Hurricanes (NASA)

August 30, 2016, 4:00-5:00 pm  Real NASA Data:  Clouds and Contrails (NASA)

August 31, 2016, 12 -12:30 pm  Portfolio Manager - Ask The Expert (EPA)


Apple Day

Green Apple Day of Service is Saturday, Sept. 24 at YOUR School

All over the world, communities are coming together to improve local schools, making an impact on the environment, supporting health and wellness, and advancing environmental and sustainability literacy. Since 2012, more than 750,000 volunteers have hosted some 12,660 events with a collective impact on the learning environments of approximately 7 million students in all 50 U.S. states across 73 countries. Visit greenapple.org for ideas and resources, and sign up to host or join an event in your community. >>>>

Greenbuild 2016

Greenbuild 2016 is in Los Angeles, CA Oct. 5-7th

Greenbuild is the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. It features three days of speakers, networking opportunities, industry showcases, LEED workshops and tours of the host city's green buildings. With the theme “Iconic Green,” the 2016 conference celebrates the icons of the movement - those who are working in the trenches today and those who are leading the way into the future.  >>>>

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The 2016 AASHE Conference and Expo is Oct. 9-12 in Baltimore, MD

The AASHE Conference & Expo brings together some 2,000 campus administrators, sustainability staff, students, faculty, businesses, media and others to explore more than 400 educational sessions, workshops, tours and keynote addresses that advance sustainability in higher education.  This year's theme, “Beyond the Campus,” explores the dissemination and implementation of sustainability solutions in surrounding communities and the world. >>>>


The North American Association for Environmental Education Conference is Oct 19-22

For more than four decades, NAAEE has convened one of the leading annual conferences for environmental education professionals, from classroom teachers and teacher educators to nature center staff to climate science researchers and everyone in between. Averaging 1,000 participants each year, the event is designed to promote innovation, networking, learning, and dissemination of best practices.  This year’s conference, with the theme “From Inspiration to Impact,” is in Madison, WI. This is the first year the conference is offering a green schools track and there will be several sessions related to ED-GRS.  >>>>


EDSpaces is Nov. 2-4 in Cincinnati, OH

EDspaces is the gathering place for architects, facility planners, designers, administrators and dealers to learn about trends and experience the latest products and services to enhance student learning.  >>>>

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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