June Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the June 2020 Green Strides ...

In the News

Grace School at Meeting Street Learning on Boulders

Join Us For #EDGreenRibbon #CelebrationWeek2020

The in-person 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony, tentatively scheduled for August 4, will be replaced with a Virtual Celebration Week, August 2 through 8, and consisting of several components:

  • Daily newsletters spotlighting 2020 honorees; 
  • Extensive all-week social media blitz on Facebook and Twitter;
  • A compendium of honorees’ work with photos and details about their accomplishments; and
  • Informal virtual coffee chats focusing on different sustainable schools’ topics of interest with peers.

While we regret not being able to celebrate in person given the current situation regarding COVID-19, we will celebrate the 2020 honorees in other ways. Plaques recognizing the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools will be mailed.   

Edison Elementary

Going for a 2021 Green Ribbon?

If your institution has not already been recognized, now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) application cycle by using resources and programs available on Green Strides. Read some common misconceptions about the award dispelled in a blog, and review frequently asked questions about all three award categories.  

For 2021 applications, interested colleges and universities may contact state higher education authorities, while preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and districts may contact state educational agencies. Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions are eligible only if nominated by state authorities. State education authorities may contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.  

Resources and Opportunities


Coronavirus Resources

The White House, the Department, and other federal agencies are continually releasing and updating information to support schools, educators, families, and students regarding COVID-19. In addition to the links below, please visit https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus for the latest education-related information and address questions for the Department to COVID-19@ed.gov.

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

Calling All Past U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools!

On April 22, the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Education announced the names of the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. As we look to honor this year’s cohort, we hope to share messages (photos and/or written messages) from past honorees. These may include updates about what they have been doing since receipt of the award, as well as any lessons learned that they would like to share with this year’s honorees. Past honorees should send their messages to ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov.

Bayard recycling efforts

Spotlight on a Green Strides Resource: Whole School Sustainability Framework

The Whole School Sustainability Framework was developed at the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University and published by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. It is founded on the imperative that sustainability requires a whole-system approach in order to be successful. This system framework is organized into the three components of schools: organizational culture, physical place, and educational program. Within these three components, we have identified a total of nine principles. Find this and many other resources on the Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub.

Meet the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Get to know the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools in our annual Highlights Report. Below, we spotlight just a few of the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.

Carl Sandburg Discovery Charter School

Carl Sandburg Elementary and Discovery Community School; Kirkland, Washington

Carl Sandburg Elementary and Discovery Community School (Sandburg/DCS) are two schools, but they share one building and work together. Sandburg/DCS has been recognized by the local program King County Green Schools with Level One (waste reduction), Level Two (energy conservation), and Level Three (water conservation and pollution prevention) designations and a Sustaining Green School designation for maintaining and building on all of these practices. They eliminated Styrofoam in the lunchroom, achieved a recycling rate of 58%, switched to reusable utensils, and have added a food share and donation program. Sandburg/DCS have a natural playground on campus. Native, drought-resistant landscaping eliminates the need for irrigation. Rain gardens filter water. The herbicide-free landscaping program is bolstered by student and parent volunteer weeding. Energy-conservation features include solar panels and a heat pump. The total energy savings over five years resulted in cost savings of $57,510 for the building. The school implemented a curriculum called Amplify Science that is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and includes robust instruction and assessment in such areas as needs of plants and animals, changing landforms, environments and survival, energy conversions, earth systems, and ecosystem restoration. First-grade classrooms have King County Going Green Workshops to teach students about healthy environments and preserving habitats. Third-grade students visit Environmental Adventure School to learn about food chains, animal survival, and healthy habitats. Nature Vision visits first and second grades to talk about watershed and water conservation. Fourth graders take a field trip to Tiger Mountain and engage in learning about healthy forests and maintaining biodiversity. Fifth-grade students attend a four-day, three-night residential Outdoor Environmental Education program.


Readington Middle School; Whitehouse Station, New Jersey

Readington Middle School (RMS) serves over 500 students in central New Jersey. The school’s physical space — its building, solar installations providing 30 percent of energy needs, and native, rain, and courtyard gardens — provides tangible context for student learning. Teachers, facility staff, engineers, master gardeners, and local environmentalists work side-by-side with students to examine and understand energy usage patterns, the rise of invasive species, and rain gardens as a solution to keep the watershed clean. The school has Eco-Schools USA Silver recognition and Sustainable Jersey for Schools bronze certification. Students have designed and implemented vertical hydroponic, aquaponic, and raised bed gardens, as well as smart solar-powered rain barrel irrigation. A 1:1 Chromebook initiative allows students and staff to download data and share and submit work electronically. Water fountains have been replaced with water bottle refilling stations. Students from the Global Goals team are developing an environmental monitoring station. Students analyze rate and percent math problems relating to pollution, endangered species, and population growth. They read, analyze, and create graphs related to global warming. They design sustainable cities of the future. In seventh grade, all students and staff take a Walk in the Woods together led by local guides, focusing on ecosystems, as they use all of their senses to identify flora, fauna, and geological rock formations within their own bioregion. Students across grade levels work to develop innovative ways to reduce waste, support responsible consumption and production, promote good health and well-being, and build internal and external school partnerships to make it happen.


Bonneville Elementary School; Salt Lake City, Utah

Bonneville Elementary was one of the first schools to be awarded Utah Green Schools recognition and has maintained this honor every year since 2014. Bonneville Elementary has earned an ENERGY STAR certification, and the school’s energy usage is the lowest in the Salt Lake City School District. The front area of the school has been planted with local, water-wise plants that attract pollinators. The school has partnered with Wasatch Community Gardens to maintain a produce garden. All grades work with the science teacher and PTA to plant and maintain the garden year-round. Parent volunteers encourage students to donate unwanted, untouched food to a communal table for use by other kids. Bonneville participates in Crayola ColorCycle to recycle markers and highlighters. A first-grade teacher at Bonneville has started a First-Year Teacher Store to redistribute surplus school materials. The PTA has created a Clean Air Committee, which has spearheaded an anti-idling campaign based on the EPA’s Idle-Free Schools Toolkit for a Healthy School Environment. The custodial staff uses water-based cleaning products that are VOC-free. Bonneville participates in the AirNow Air Quality Flag Program. Each teacher in the school teaches at least 12 integrated nutrition lessons per academic year. The school cafeteria offers a salad bar and 45 minutes of recess daily. Bonneville has a hands-on sustainability curriculum in all grades. Sixth-graders complete labs with the school science teacher on invasive species in ecosystems. Fourth grade learns about the water cycle and discusses Utah’s water dilemma. Third-grade students study ecosystems and how living and nonliving things interact. Third grade participates in the Tulips Journey North program. Ogden Nature Center sends presenters to Bonneville first-grade students every year for their “Creature Features” program. 


Green Strides Design

Take Advantage of the Ongoing Green Strides Webinar Series 

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 1,700 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, publicly available webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov. (Note: All times listed are EDT.)

June 23, 3–4:15 p.m. Communicating in Times of Great Change (NAAEE)

June 23, 6–7 p.m. Moon to Mars: Overview, Propulsion with Space Launch System, and Digital Educator Badge (NASA)

June 24, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

June 24, 1–2 p.m. Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy and the Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)

June 24, 3–4 p.m. The Intersection of Safety and Sustainability (AASHE)

June 24, 6–7 p.m. NASA’s Hunt for Signs of Life on Exoplanets (NASA)

June 25, 1–2 p.m. Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

June 25, 1–2 p.m. Preparing Robotic Explorer Perseverance for Mars (NASA)

June 29, 1–2 p.m. Simple Machines Shoe Box Rover (NASA)

June 30, 12–1 p.m. NASA’s Hunt for Signs of Life on Other Planets: Earth Reflections (NASA)

July 2, 1–2 p.m. Explore Volcanoes on the Earth, Moon and Mars (NASA)

July 6, 5–6 p.m. NASA STEM Engineering Challenges for Home or School: Robotic Arms (NASA)

July 8, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

July 8, 1–2:15 p.m. Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

July 8, 3–4 p.m. A Holistic Approach and Model for a Sustainable Food System (AASHE)

July 8, 7:30–8:30 p.m. Creative Solutions in Our Time of Crisis – Community Discussion (Green Teacher)

July 9, 6–7 p.m. Exploring Sustainable Seafood (National Marine Sanctuaries)

July 15, 3–4 p.m. The ENERGY STAR College & University Comparison Campaign (EPA)

July 15, 3–4:20 p.m. On-Campus Composting:  How to Start, Evolve, and Overcome Challenges (AASHE)

July 22, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

July 22, 1–2 p.m. Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

July 23, 12:30–1:30 p.m. Energy Treasure Hunts During COVID-19 (EPA)

July 23, 1–2 p.m. Engineering Challenge: Mars Helicopter (NASA)


Wellwood International School Butterfly Garden

Plan a Green Apple Day of Service at Your School

As schools slowly resume classes, they will be in greater need of community support than ever. A Green Apple Day of Service gives parents, teachers, students, companies, and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe, and productive learning environments through local service projects.  Check out project ideas, pick up helpful event resources, and register your project online.  

Schlitz Audubon Nature Students fort building
Green wall Seattle Public Schools

EDspaces 2020

EDspaces is the gathering place for architects, dealers, pre-k–12 schools, colleges and universities, independent manufacturers representatives, exhibitors, and corporations to learn about trends and to experience the latest products and services to enhance student learning. This year’s conference will be held Oct. 10–13 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

Cape May City Schools

Online Environmental Education Annual Conference 

The 49th North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) annual conference will be held virtually from Oct. 14–17. For more than four decades, NAAEE has convened one of the leading annual conferences for environmental education professionals. The conference is designed to promote innovation, networking, learning, and dissemination of best practices. The focus of the 2020 Conference and Research Symposium is positive change. The conference will explore the ways in which environmental education informs and inspires, and how it builds human capacity, influences attitudes, and galvanizes actions to create healthier communities and a healthier environment for all. 

Kennesaw State Field Station

Online Higher Education Sustainability Conference

The 2020 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education will be held virtually Oct. 20–22. It is the largest stage in North America to exchange effective models, policies, research, collaborations, and transformative actions that advance sustainability in higher education and surrounding communities. 

Truckee Meadows Community College Solar

Association for Learning Environments LearningSCAPES 2020 

LearningSCAPES is the conference for those who plan, design, equip, furnish, and maintain places where students learn. This year’s conference will be held Oct. 28–Nov. 1 in San Antonio, Texas. Attend for groundbreaking educational sessions, inspiring keynote speakers, and a showcase of state-of-the-art tools that move learning into the future. 

Indian Community School

The Indian Community School created boardwalks for students to interact with the natural wetlands. There, students can observe, write about, and protect the environment around the school.

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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