Join ED on the 2017 Green Strides Tour in Georgia

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          U.S. Department of Education

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Join ED on the 2017 Green Strides Tour in Georgia!

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) and its Green Strides outreach initiative share promising practices and resources in the areas of safe, healthy, and sustainable school environments; nutrition and outdoor physical activity; and environmental and sustainability education.  To bring additional attention to honorees’ practices, ED-GRS conducts an annual Green Strides tour, allowing schools, school districts, and postsecondary institutions to share their work with community leaders and policymakers and celebrate their achievements.   

View the tour schedule here, contact with any questions, and please join us.  All visits are open to the public.  (Read “Why I Can’t Wait to Get Back to the Green Strides Tour.”)  We invite you to share tour photos and impressions with us on Twitter (EDGreenRibbon) and Facebook (EDGreenRibbonSchools) using hashtag #GreenStridesTour. >>>>

UGA Students Watershed Education
Students engage in watershed education at 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Postsecondary Sustainability Awardee University of Georgia.

Blog From ED-GRS Director: Debunking Myths Behind U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Five years ago, I was tasked with developing what came to be called U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS).  The ED-GRS recognition award is now known for honoring sustainable schools annually.  “What is a ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ school?,” you ask.  Well, we established a federal definition when we created the award.  State education authorities voluntarily nominate up to five schools and school districts and up to one postsecondary institution each year to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for consideration.  We announce the ED-GRS honorees on or near Earth Day and then invite them all to a special ceremony in Washington D.C. the following summer.  That is what most people know.  What I’d like to discuss are the common misconceptions about ED-GRS. >>>>

Meet More of the 2017 Honorees!

As you head back to school, take inspiration from the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for ideas for the coming year.  View the honorees and read about their work on Green Strides.  Also catch a blog about the 2017 ceremony.

Kromrey Invasive Species Removal
Students at Kromrey Middle School work to remove invasive species.

Kromrey Middle School, Middleton, Wisconsin

Located within the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, the new Kromrey Middle School building, constructed in 2013, continues the sustainability initiatives for which it has received district recognition.  The school was awarded ENERGY STAR certification in 2016, with a score of 91, and U.S. Middle School Design Project of the Year 2016.  Even before construction of the new facility, the school achieved ENERGY STAR recognition in its old facility each year from 2008–13.  The new building has geothermal heating and cooling, solar hot water, and LED or fluorescent lighting, plus daylighting to reduce the need for artificial lighting.  More than a quarter of the landscaping is native, and building materials were sourced locally when feasible.  There are many places inside and outside the school for students to gather in natural lighting and with views of nature, including an outdoor amphitheater and a living wall on the edge of a nature conservancy.  Wellness activities are offered for Kromrey staff both at the school and at other district buildings.  Mindfulness techniques are embraced and used in classrooms and staff trainings.  English classes go outside to compose poetry and other observational writing.  In the summer of 2016, Kromrey staff partnered with Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy to develop outdoor inquiry units for fifth and sixth grades.  All sixth-grade students spend two days at Upham Woods Environmental Learning Center each year.  Classes, ranging from choices and careers to technology and engineering to social studies, address environmental sustainability. >>>>

Mushroom spawn plugs
Fourth-grade Portland Waldorf School students add mushroom spawn plugs to a log.

Portland Waldorf School, Milwaukie, Oregon

The Portland Waldorf School (PWS) is an alternative private school that serves early childhood through high school students.  PWS’s environmental education program assures that sustainability projects are woven into both the curriculum and extracurricular activities for all ages. The PWS community invests its funds and staff in an innovative environmental education program, called the LivingLAB, that actively engages students with a wide variety of sustainability-related projects. These projects are implemented by students in conjunction with their academic studies, which are integrated into the long-term site design.  Students oversee projects harvesting the natural water flow on campus; remediating runoff water from parking lots; promoting biking and public transit; recycling; gardening; composting; and encouraging best practices for reducing waste and energy use, including changing all lightbulbs to LED.  Daily food compost chores, tending to gardens with various themes—including dye plants, food forests, wetland plants, native plants, medicinals, pollinator-attractants, and edible landscaping—and regular use of a wood-fired oven for a variety of subject lessons engage students directly with activities that model regenerative practices and develop healthy habits.  Nutritious cooking activities are integrated into classes for all ages.  This past year, students constructed gravity-powered water pumps to irrigate gardens and a bike shelter. They also built a rainwater catchment system that flows into the early learning play, so that even the youngest students can interact in a hands-on way with this resource-efficient technology.  Water bottle filling stations, bioswales, and xeriscaping are employed to reduce environmental impact.  Students pack waste-free lunches, bring reusable dishware from home, compost, and recycle.  The school encourages handmade crafting, using natural materials and products, which are available through the school store.  Biomimicry, permaculture, and biodynamics provide important frameworks for students to understand such topics as appropriate technology, science, and nutrition with greater complexity.  >>>>

Fairfax Co Schools Energy Star
Fairfax County Public Schools has more ENERGYSTAR certified schools than any district in the nation.

Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia

Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS’) comprehensive environmental education and sustainability program has been expanded into a systemic collaboration dubbed Get2Green.  Get2Green’s mission is to promote student learning and action using the environment as a foundation.  Get2Green has created competitive programs running division-wide awareness campaigns, provided annual student internships with authentic sustainability experiences, and engaged 150 schools in student-driven stewardship activities, such as recycling, building wildlife habitats, conserving energy, and growing food.  Dashboards and an interactive website provide data on energy, recycling, and Eco-School USA progress in a way that encourages student and teacher engagement and competition among schools.  The Fairfax Department of Facilities and Transportation Services invests one third of every project dollar into sustainability infrastructure.  Through Get2Green and FCPS’ partnership with the energy conservation company Cenergistic, FCPS has realized $10 million in energy savings in two years.  FCPS has low-flow water fixtures and drought-resistant native plants, as well as automated sensors in bathrooms, rain barrels, and cisterns to conserve and collect water.  The district sponsors bus-pass programs for use on public transit as well as on the county school bus system.  The FCPS Safe Routes to School program has helped promote walking and biking to school through pedestrian and bike safety lessons for over 15,000 students.  There are vegetable gardens at 78 FCPS schools.  Schools incorporate their gardens into the curriculum by weighing what they grow, doing cost/benefit analyses, studying the growth cycle of plants, and conducting research to create informational signs.  FCPS has over 100 elementary science lessons that ask teachers to take students outside for investigations, and a guide to these lessons is available to teachers.  At the secondary level, FCPS life science students in seventh grade participate in a meaningful watershed educational experience by visiting a local stream and conducting a variety of qualitative and quantitative tests, which they use to evaluate the field site’s health.  The district introduced outdoor backpacks in fall 2016 to facilitate outdoor education for students in all grade levels  >>>>

Resources and Opportunities


Join This Year’s Green Apple Day of Service

Green Apple Day of Service is an opportunity to join schools across the world in celebrating the central role that schools play in preparing the next generation of sustainability leaders. A school’s day of service event improves the health and safety of the learning environment while strengthening student civic leadership, environmental literacy, and project management skills. Since it began in 2012, the Green Apple Day of Service has inspired over 790,000 volunteers in 73 countries to act in support of sustainability at their schools. With one in eight people around the globe attending a school every day, there is more work to be done! Schools and the community leaders who support them can choose their own dates for their projects, and they have access to mini-grants and personalized guidance to help them bring their projects to fruition. Sign up to participate at >>>>

Captain Planet Foundation Logo

Apply for Captain Planet Foundation Small Grants by Sept. 30

Captain Planet Foundation’s small grants fund environmental stewardship and service learning projects that engage children in critical thinking, research, inquiry investigations, and real-world environmental problem solving.  Grants provide educators with the funding needed to purchase equipment, materials, or supplies.  >>>>

KAB logo

Recycle-Bowl and America Recycles Day Open Registration

Keep America Beautiful offers two fall events to educate and engage school communities: 1) Recycle-Bowl (Oct. 16–Nov. 15) school registration opens Aug. 1, and 2) register to organize an America Recycles Day (Nov. 15) event.  >>>>


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues This Fall

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. (Note: All times listed are EDT.)

Sept. 7, 23 p.m.  Trending Topics in Farm to School: Farm to School in Native Communities (National Farm to School Network)

Sept.7, 67 p.m.  There’s Space in Your Classroom for Cross-Curricular: STEAM-rolling Through Space (NASA)

Sept.12, 12 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

Sept.13, 12 p.m.  Just Add WaterSense to Your Energy Efficiency Efforts (EPA)

Sept. 13, 2:30–3:30 p.m. Hold an Energy Efficiency Treasure Hunt for Green Apple Day of Service (EPA)

Sept.14, 12 p.m.  Energy Star and Green Building Rating Systems (EPA)

Sept.18, 6:307:30 p.m.  There’s Space in Your Classroom for Cross-Curricular: MarsBound (NASA)

Sept.19, 12 p.m.  Trends in Tracking Waste Data in Portfolio Manager (EPA)

Sept.19, 6:307:30 p.m.  Cosmology 101 (NASA)

Sept. 20, 12–1:30 p.m. Reducing Lead in Drinking Water (EPA)

Sept. 20, 56 p.m.  A Cross Curricular Lesson: Who Will Feed the World? (NASA)

Sept. 20, 67 p.m.  National Marine Sanctuaries Webinar Series: Manta Rays: Studying an Ocean Icon (NOAA)

Sept. 21, 12 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Sept. 21, 67 p.m.  Hurricanes in Your Classroom:  Ask a Hurricane Hunter Pilot (NASA)

Sept. 27, 6:307:30 p.m.  The Adventures of Amelia the Pigeon K–2 (NASA)

Sept. 27, 7:308:30 p.m.  Green Teacher Webinar Series: Best Practices in School Gardens (Green Schools National Network)

Sept. 28, 12 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Sept. 28, 45 p.m.  Go Far, Walk Together: Community Engagement as Transformative Practice (NAAEE)

Sept. 28, 6:307:30 p.m.  The Adventures of Amelia the Pigeon 3–5 (NASA)


AASHE 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 logo

The NAAEE Conference Is Oct. 18–21 in San Juan, Puerto Rico

For more than four decades, the North American Association for Environmental Education has convened one of the leading annual conferences for environmental education professionals, including classroom teachers and teacher educators, nature center staff, 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 on the theme “Imagine a World” is in San Juan, Puerto Rico. >>>>

A4LE Logo

The Association for Learning Environments Conference Is Oct. 26–29 in Atlanta, Georgia

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

EDSpaces Logo

EDspaces Is Oct. 25–27 in Kansas City, Missouri

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

Greenbuild Logo

Greenbuild 2017 Is Nov. 8–10 in Boston, Massachusetts

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. >>>>

Happy End-of-Summer From the ED Green Team!

Charlie Brown End of Summer

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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