Preparing to Celebrate the 2017 Honorees!

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

Watch the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Ceremony Live

Prescott Elementary 2016 Plaque Presentation
2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Prescott Elementary School of Lincoln, Nebraska accepts its award. The 2017 cohort will be honored during a similar ceremony in just a few weeks.

U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary of Management Holly Ham, Acting Chief of Staff of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration George Kelly, Director of the Campaign for Environmental Literacy James L. Elder, Jr., and Director of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council Anisa Heming will honor the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees in a private ceremony at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 19, in Washington, D.C.  Forty-five schools, nine districts, and nine colleges and universities will be recognized for their commitment to reducing environmental impact and utility costs, promoting better health, and providing environmental education.  The festivities will also recognize a state official for advancing sustainable schools in Georgia.

ED-GRS has three distinct “pillars” or general aims any school might work toward in the areas of school facilities, health, and environmental learning.  These are used to engage more schools in existing federal, nonprofit, and state tracking and certification programs that can help all schools save money, improve health, and teach by the most hands-on, engaging means possible.  The complementary Green Strides outreach initiative offers social media, this monthly newsletter, a resource and webinar portal, and an annual tour to spotlight innovative practices.  In this way, ED-GRS goes beyond providing only a few promising examples or a single annual event by working to connect all schools with the resources and practices that honorees successfully use.

Watch a livestream of the ceremony on the U.S. Department of Education’s Facebook

Meet More of the 2017 Honorees!

Students install rooftop sollar
Yosemite High School students install rooftop solar for low-income residents working with GRID Alternatives.

Yosemite High School, Merced, California

Yosemite High School (YHS) is on the leading edge of the green schools movement in California’s Central Valley.  Students have daily access to a registered nurse, a health aide, and a counselor.  The school’s Urban Essentials program of restorative justice builds community in response to student misconduct.  Yosemite students are active outdoors in physical education; coursework, including physical and agricultural science; and during lunchtime activities.  The school placed first at a recent Energize Schools competition for its energy conservation plan.  Working with Tree Partners USA, YHS selected regionally appropriate plantings and it has reduced campus water use by 45 percent.  Students participate in field trips to the state capitol, where they meet with legislators to discuss environmental topics.  The YHS campus features an outdoor classroom, a raised garden area, a 500-square-foot greenhouse, and a composting center.  The green technology and energy conservation courses offered at YHS provide students with access to California's energy and power technology career pathways, and lead directly to industry certifications or employment opportunities.  This curriculum is designed to fully integrate learning objectives that are critically relevant to the renewable energy and green technology industries.  A partnership with nonprofit organization GRID Alternatives engages students in service learning work experience days during which students have the opportunity to participate in residential solar installations for low-income residents in and around the city of Merced.  Other activities include a green technology club, wilderness club, hiking club, and field trips featuring camping and overnight backpacking experiences.  >>>>

Gilbert Forest Preschool Exploring Basecamp
Gilbert Elementary School forest kindergarten students explore basecamp after a flood.

Gilbert Elementary School, LaFayette, Georgia

Every aspect of Gilbert Elementary School, including art and physical education, has a focus on the outdoors.  The school’s Forest Kindergarten classes spend three hours per day outdoors, rain or shine, in self-initiated playtime in the woods.  Because of the high level of curriculum integration, students are able to spend more time exploring nature, problem solving, and developing innovative solutions to real-world problems through practical application.  Gilbert students hammer, dig, saw, and measure.  Each grade works with professionals, such as arborists, farmers, biologists, engineers, foresters, professors, and horticulturists, in a field related to projects they undertake.  Gilbert offers a school-based health center, the closest pediatric care center within 35 miles, and has been awarded $650,000 yearly in ongoing funding for the clinic, which offers medical, dental, mental health, nutrition and wellness services, and assistance with social services.  One of the 1993-constructed school’s successes is its energy reduction efforts through new policies and procedures, a new control system, an updated boiler and cooling tower, and a gradual update of all the lighting to LED.  The school also has gone paperless in grades three through five by using Google Classroom and Seesaw.  Half of the school’s 21 acres are forested and the site includes a certified wildlife habitat.  The school also has access to an additional 320 acres of forest surrounding the school-owned land. All of these changes may seem small, but they have had a dramatic effect on resource consumption. >>>>

PSD Students Outdoor Learning
In The School District of Philadelphia environmental science units are sequenced to build concepts and skills towards taking high school level environmental science courses that cover topics including the basic chemistry of our planet, biogeochemical cycles, ecosystem dynamics, biodiversity, and human populations.

The School District of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The School District of Philadelphia serves 143,387 students, 78 percent of whom qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, in over 300 buildings, and has 25 million square feet of building space in facilities with an average age of 70 years.  The superintendent launched the district’s five-year sustainability plan in May 2016, aiming to reduce energy consumption, increase waste diversion, increase school green spaces, and create healthy indoor environments.  The district tracks its energy use through EnergyCAP and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, and has registered a 40 percent reduction in energy use over five years.  The district has contracted an energy services company to offer behavioral change recommendations, energy audits, and energy education.  Philadelphia has implemented a comprehensive recycling program at 42 schools.  Over the past five years, Philadelphia has constructed large green storm-water infrastructure projects at 31 schools, for which the district receives financial credits that reduce its utility costs.  During the summer of 2016, new water bottle filling stations were announced as a standard for all Philadelphia public schools.  In 2011, the district was awarded the EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Great Start Award for establishing an indoor environmental quality program.  The district uses certified Green Seal cleaning products.  It serves 92,500 free lunches and 57,500 free breakfasts daily, with a focus on healthy hydration, farm-to-table, and fruit- and vegetable-of-the-month programs.  District curriculum specialists, environmental staff, and external partners attend monthly education for sustainability meetings.  Each of the sustainability professional development opportunities provided for teachers may be used to maintain teaching licenses in the state.  Environmental science concepts are woven throughout the science curriculum from kindergarten through eighth grade.  >>>>

Resources and Opportunities

PLT GreenWorks Logo

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

Project Learning Tree offers grants of 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 and local businesses and/or community organizations, and provide opportunities for student leadership. >>>>


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 for listing.

June 19, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Journey to Mars:  Is There Water on Mars? (NASA)

June 20, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Journey to Mars:  Space Food (NASA)

June 21, 8–9 p.m.  Using Math to Understand Our Solar System (NASA)

June 22, 1–2:30 p.m. The Return on Investment of Green Cleaning in Schools (EPA)

June 22, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Journey for Mars—Looking for Life (NASA)

June 26, 4–5 p.m. Journey to Mars: Survival on Mars (NASA)

June 27, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Journey to Mars:  Rockets (NASA)

June 28, 1–2 p.m. Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

June 28, 12–12:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager—Ask the Expert (EPA)

June 28, 4–5 p.m.  Bringing Katherine Johnson’s Story Into Your Classroom (NASA) 

June 29, 1–2 p.m. Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

June 29, 6–7 p.m. Journey to Mars: Super Models (NASA)

July 3, 6:30–7:30 p.m. Solar Eclipse: The Mechanics of Eclipses (NASA)

July 5, 6:30–7:30 p.m. Assessing Student Work During an Engineering Design Challenge (NASA)

July 5, 3–4 p.m.  Teaching Climate Change by Creating an “Earth Community (AASHE)

July 6, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA) 

July 11, 1–2:30 p.m. Getting Started With Energy Savings Plus Health (EPA)

July 13, 1–2:30 p.m. Engaging the Campus to Improve Recycling Participation (CURC)

July 19, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)


Green Cleaning

The Green Clean Schools Leadership Institute is July 13–14 in Park City, Utah

This training will bring together leading university and K–12 facility operators in an effort to grow the green cleaning movement.  It will include hands-on leadership skill training and workshops; expert panels and discussions on how to create a green cleaning program; and the opportunity to network with other leaders in the field.  >>>>


AASHE Conference Logo

The 2017 AASHE Conference and Expo Is Oct. 15–18 in San Antonio, Texas

The AASHE Conference and 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, “Stronger in Solidarity,” will focus on how the campus sustainability community can break down walls, build bridges, and continue to make progress toward a healthy and equitable future for all.  >>>>

NAAEE Conference 2017

The North American Association for Environmental Education Conference Is Oct. 18–21

For more than four decades, the North American Association for Environmental Education 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 the dissemination of best practices.  This year’s conference, with the theme “Imagine a World,” is in San Juan, Puerto Rico. >>>>

A4LE Logo

Association for Learning Environments Annual Conference is Oct. 26–29 in Atlanta

Association for Learning Environment’s mission is to connect those whose passion is to create the best possible learning spaces that encourage innovation, critical thinking, collaborative teamwork, and other skills that will empower students to succeed in a rapidly changing world.  Its conference includes educational sessions, keynotes, and a showcase of state-of-the-art tools that move learning into the future. >>>>

EDSpaces Conference

EDspaces Is Oct. 25–27 in Kansas City

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.  >>>>

Greenbuild Boston Logo 2017

Greenbuild 2017 is Nov. 8–10 in Boston

Greenbuild is the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. It features three days of inspiring speakers, invaluable networking opportunities, industry showcases, LEED workshops, and tours of the host city's green buildings. >>>>

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
If you received a forwarded newsletter, sign up to receive us directly next month.