January 2020 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the January 2020 Green Strides...

In the News

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

States Nominate for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools by Feb. 14

State education authorities can submit school, district, and postsecondary institution nominees for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) between now and Feb. 14.  ED will announce the 2020 selectees in May.  Honored institutions will be invited to send up to five representatives to a recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C. 

For institutions that have not already been honored (this is a one-time award), now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2021 application cycle by using resources and programs on Green Strides and contacting your state education authority. For future cycles, interested colleges and universities should contact their state higher education authorities, while schools and districts should contact their state education agencies.  Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions are only eligible if nominated by state authorities.  State education authorities can find award criteria and other state implementation guidance on the ED website and should contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.  

Penny Taylor 2018 Director's Award Recipient

The 2020 ED-Green Ribbon Schools Director’s Award: Nominations Due March 1

The Director’s Award recognizes state education authorities’ exemplary efforts to administer U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS).  Annually, the Director’s Award goes to the state education official who does the most to advance sustainable education in his or her state. If you wish to nominate a state education official, please send your nomination letter to ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov by March 1.  Any state education official who is involved in implementing the ED-GRS award and who has not already won the Director’s Award is eligible for nomination.  Read about the work of past ED-GRS Director’s Award recipients

Meet the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

This spring, we'll be announcing the 2020 honorees.  In every Green Strides edition until then, continue to learn from the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.  View the honorees and read about their work on the Green Strides website and on the ED awards page.  Three of the honorees are spotlighted below.  

Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool winter nature walk

Students at Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool spend 50–100 percent of their time outdoors on a daily, year-round basis, unless the temperature is below zero degrees Fahrenheit or there is lightning.

Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Nature Preschool at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is a LEED Gold certified building that uses geothermal, solar electric, and solar thermal energy sources to generate 50 percent of total energy use on-site and sell renewable energy back to the local utility.  The preschool uses as many recycled, upcycled, natural, and environmentally sustainable products in the classroom as possible, from educational materials to cleaning supplies. It uses an educational three-bin compost system. Schlitz has a dishwasher and sanitizer that allows it to avoid paper plates and utensils and serves food family style.  Preschool students begin each day outside in nature-based play areas, including gardens, trees, logs, a water area, digging area, mud kitchen, trees for climbing, and loose parts such as rock, sticks, and branches.  Students are provided tools that help the children learn to interact with nature, and each other, in positive ways, including shovels, spades, watering cans, dishes, twine, scoops, brooms, trucks, and wheelbarrows.  Schlitz installed a rain catchment system alongside one of the play areas to catch and hold 90 percent of the water from the nature center rain gutters. The water is held in a cistern. When the spout to the cistern is opened, the water runs along a funnel system, through the play space, and out into an educational rain garden. Water conservation, early childhood play, and education are seamlessly blended. 

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago offers over 1,300 courses that address sustainability. The University’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability is creating solutions to the issue of climate change by combining environmental science with policy, business, and public health.

Loyola University Chicago, Illinois

Loyola University Chicago is a gold rated university in AASHE’s STARS and is home to 11 LEED certified buildings across three campuses.  A transformation of the Loyola campus infrastructure has reduced carbon emissions by 38 percent from a 2008 baseline.  Loyola features dashboards, signage, and a “campus as lab” program that allows students to work on improving the infrastructure all around them.  Loyola’s student-run biodiesel program fuels shuttle buses and provides restroom soap, both made from waste vegetable oil. Two campuses feature large-scale geothermal installations.  The Lake Shore Campus of Loyola is a model for coastal development and stormwater management with green infrastructure including rain gardens, permeable paving, native gardens, and more green roofs than any university in the Midwest.  Loyola has reduced food waste by 30 percent with tray-free dining, smaller portions, and a food-recovery network chapter.  The Retreat and Ecology Campus includes a student-run farm, ongoing ecological restoration, and a low- and high-ropes course.  The undergraduate core curriculum was updated in 2012 to incorporate foundational environmental literacy concepts for all students.  To address its endowment management, Loyola has updated its investment policy with “Responsible and Sustainable Investing Principles.” 

Gadsden Elementary School water bottle filling

Gadsden Elementary School installed water bottle filling stations to reduce single-use plastic bottle waste and encourage healthy hydration.

Robert W. Gadsden Elementary School Savannah, GA

Robert W. Gadsden Elementary School features a 6400 square foot, 30kW photovoltaic system. Gadsden was ENERGY STAR certified in 2014 with a Portfolio Manager score of 91.  A running club was established for students to exert energy before the school day.  A nonprofit community health center provides primary care, dentistry, behavioral health, and patient assistance at an onsite clinic. A local community garden and the YMCA partner with GES to grow garden produce.  Through a partnership with Savannah State University (SSU), Gadsden has implemented a curriculum that exposes students to marine science, urban farming, horticulture, and other agricultural sciences and careers, making use of the school’s new greenhouse and aquaponics lab.  Pre-K students visit Oatland Island each year to explore wildlife, conservation, and habitats. K-5 students learn about the environment and coastal wildlife through a Tybee Island Marine Science Center partnership. 


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues Through Winter


The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 1,000 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 for listing additional free, publically available webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov. (Note: All times listed are EST.)

January 21, 1–2 p.m.  How to Apply for the ENERGY STAR for U.S. Buildings (EPA)

January 21, 6–7 p.m.  Moon to Mars:  Mission Resources Overview (NASA)

January 22, 2–3 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

January 22, 3–4 p.m.  Education for Sustainable Development for 2030:  The Future Depends on Us! (AASHE)

January 22, 6–7 p.m.  NASA Commercial Crew Program:  Mission and STEM Resources Overview (NASA)

January 22, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Conservation through a Spiritual Lens (Green Teacher)

January 23, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Humans in Space:  Hazards of Spaceflight (NASA)

January 27, 6–7 p.m.  Exploring Earth System Phenomena with My NASA Data Resources (NASA)

January 28, 6–7 p.m.  Moon to Mars:  Mission and Resources Overview (NASA)

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

January 29, 1:15–2:15 p.m.  Energy Justice and Solving Climate by 2030 (NAAEE)

January 29, 3–4 p.m.  STARS 2.2 Data Quality Boot Camp (AASHE)

January 29, 7–8 p.m.  Explore Humans in Space:  Mass vs Weight (NASA)

January 30, 5–6 p.m.  Explore Life in Extreme Environments (NASA)

February 4, 1–2:15 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

February 4, 6–7 p.m.  X-Plane Glider Challenge (NASA)

February 5, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

February 6, 5–6 p.m.  Explore Science Literacy and STEAM Activities with Earth Observatory Kids (NASA)

February 10, 4–5 p.m.  Embedding SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) in School Climate and Culture (Green Schools National Network)

February 11, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

February 12, 1–2 p.m.  ENERGY STAR and Green Building Rating Systems (EPA)

February 13, 1–2 p.m.  A New Coast:  Strategies for Responding to Devastating Storms and Rising Seas (NAAEE)

Resources and Opportunities

Energize schools logo

Spotlight on a Green Strides Resource

Launched in 2015, thanks to generous support from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, Green Strides is ED’s portal for sustainable schools resources.  The Energize Schools Program provides holistic services to engage, inspire, and empower K-12 students to become environmental leaders in their communities, green their facilities, and conserve resources through hands-on learning. This includes no-cost curriculum, teacher training, and direct instructional support to build student awareness and skills for energy and sustainability careers.

Carton 2 Garden Logo

Register for the Annual Carton 2 Garden Contest

The sixth annual national Carton 2 Garden Contest, sponsored by Evergreen Packaging, is accepting registrations. Open to public and private schools, contest winners will be selected based on their implementation of an innovative garden creation featuring creative and sustainable uses for repurposed milk and juice cartons. Your school can get started by collecting at least 100 empty cartons from home, the community, or the cafeteria.  Fifteen entries will be selected to receive prize packages for their efforts. Entries are due by April 1. 



Green Schools Conference & Expo Registration Continues

The 2020 Green Schools Conference & Expo (GSCE) will be held March 2–4, 2020 at Hilton Portland (Oregon) Downtown.  Connect with U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools staff while you're there!  GSCE is the only national event to bring together all the players involved in making green schools a reality: people who lead, operate, build, and teach in U.S. schools.  Attendees engage in hands-on learning, participate in in-depth discussions and problem solving, and get inspired by speakers at the forefront of connecting sustainability and education.  

Farm to School Northwest

National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference will be held April 20 – 24, 2020 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event convenes stakeholders engaged in farm to cafeteria activities who are working to source local food and promote a culture of food and agricultural literacy across the country.  Conference registration will open in the coming weeks.

Circle Time Raintree School

2020 Nature-Based Early Learning Conference

The Natural Start Alliance’s annual conference is the nation’s largest professional event for teaching, administration, research, educator preparation, and advocacy in nature-based early learning. Next year’s conference will take place July 29 – August 1, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Take part in engaging presentations, experiential workshops, site tours, and professional networking with nature-based early childhood professionals from around the country and beyond.  The deadline to submit a proposal to present at the conference is Feb. 7, 2020.

Junior Elementary School Sledding

In the winter months, students at Junior Elementary School, a 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School in Belington, West Virginia, participate in sledding and other snow activities, and tap sugar maple trees.

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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