September Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the September 2020 Green Strides ...

In the News

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 the 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 a state authority. State education authorities may contact ED-GRS for more information. The deadline for states to submit nominees to ED has been moved to March 1, 2021.



Coronavirus Resources

The White House, ED, 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 for the latest education-related information, and email questions for the Department to

There are even more resources for healthy, safe, sustainable schools, including resources specific to the pandemic, on the Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub


Request for Proposals: Reducing Public Exposure to Air Pollutants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Indoor Environments Division has published a competitive funding opportunity for projects and programs that are aimed at reducing public exposure to indoor air pollutants. Projects should reduce indoor air risks and yield measurable environmental and public health outcomes in one or more priority areas: radon, indoor environmental asthma triggers, comprehensive indoor air risk reduction. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 15, 2020. Submit through and find more information online.

U.S. Department of Energy Logo

Compete in the Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® seeks innovative and creative building designs. The Design Challenge features a set of 10 contests, challenging undergrads to design highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy. Collegiate institutions may apply for the 2021 Design Challenge until Oct. 20.  A project of STEM Rising at the U.S. Department of Energy, the new All in STEM website showcases programs and resources designed to ensure that the best and the brightest from every community in America enter the STEM workforce. 

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.

Cape May City Elementary School

Cape May City Elementary School; Cape May City, New Jersey

Cape May City Elementary School (CMCES) serves 150 students, 42% of whom qualify for free or reduced price lunch. The school is a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. Earth Club students oversee the edible school gardens and the composting and recycling programs. CMCES has participated in Sustainable Jersey for Schools earning a Bronze and two Silver certifications, and resulting in three grants. Breakfast is served in classrooms to all students daily. Families are encouraged to take advantage of an in-school celebration ordering system from the school cafeteria. In addition to daily P.E., students participate in weekly swimming instruction, an annual field day, a triathlon, fall Walk-a-Thon, and regular brain breaks. Located on 36 acres of diverse habitat, including field, forest, and salt marsh wetlands, all students learn about the Atlantic coast horseshoe crab/shorebird phenomenon and participate in the Green Eggs and Sand U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program. The school participated in a citywide energy audit, using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. This led to the switch to LED lights in all areas, saving $3,000 a year. Third-graders conduct energy, heat, light, and water surveys. The school is home to a wind turbine and weather station. Water-saving drip line irrigation and a rain barrel are used to irrigate vegetable gardens and native plant areas. CMCES has switched from plastic utensils to metal, phased out plastic straws, replaced Styrofoam cups with reusable mugs, and switched Styrofoam coffee cups and plates for compostable paper products. It has introduced reusable salad containers, three additional water bottle filling stations, and participation in the TREX Plastic Film Challenge.

McDill Elementary School Green Apple Day of Service

McDill Elementary School; Stevens Point, Wisconsin

McDill Elementary School is a K–6 school serving 413 students. McDill has upgraded lighting, installed water-saving equipment, and reduced its transportation footprint. The campus integrates natural features, such as bioswales, and directs runoff into a groundwater drain. All grade levels visit the Boston School Forest pond and learn about aquatic ecosystems. The McDill community has reduced waste by implementing milk carton and marker recycling programs. Student ambassadors and an adult composting team continue to find ways and refine processes to reduce waste in the school cafeteria and kitchen. McDill organizes walk and bike to school days and a Walk Across Wisconsin noon recess program. Fourteen McDill teachers have received their U.S. Green Building Council Center for Green Schools Green Classroom Professional Certificate to help facilitate healthy learning environments. McDill purchases Green Seal certified products, instead of using harsh chemicals. Teachers are provided with outdoor classroom packs to make it easy to take learning into one of the two outdoor classrooms. The McDill campus is home to a community garden, in which plots are rented to community members. An organization called Farmshed in town provides grants to learn about local food sources. McDill property is also comprised of a 5-acre school forest with trails. The school forest includes a story walk with 20 story panels to increase environmental literacy. The school has been hosting a SnapShot Wisconsin camera from the state Department of Natural Resources for four years. In 2019, six bluebird nesting boxes were installed on the school grounds. Each year, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Environmental Education/Interpretation students visit classes at McDill and teach lessons ranging from wildlife to water to insects.

Walker-Spivey ES

Walker-Spivey Elementary School; Fayetteville, North Carolina

Walker-Spivey Elementary School serves approximately 268 inner city students, in grades prekindergarten through fifth grade. Walker-Spivey is a Title I school with 97% of students living below or at the poverty level. Beginning in 2014, a green team executed a plan to conserve resources. First, the school evaluated ways to reduce energy and water use and reduce waste going to landfill. At the beginning of each school year, staff and faculty review ways to reduce waste and annual data on resource use. The school has documented a 22% reduction in water use and a 28% reduction in energy use over 10 years. The North Carolina State University Extension Family Health Services provides health and nutrition classes, tastings, and recipes to the school community. Walker-Spivey received a grant, Fresh Health Kids, that introduces fresh vegetables and fruits biweekly to all students. A food backpack program helps with food insecurity. The school uses all Green Seal certified cleaning products. Walker-Spivey features a greenhouse and a school garden that uses rain barrels for irrigation. These hands-on gardening activities promote environmental education. Students have visited local state parks and gardens focusing on insect and animal life, habits and environments, and changes in these environments.


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 (Note: All times listed are EDT.)

Sept. 9, 1–2:15 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

Sept. 10, 4–5 p.m.  ScAN (Space Communications and Navigation) Kids Zone for Home and School (NASA)

Sept. 15, 1–2 p.m.  Beyond Benchmarking: Setting Performance Goals in Portfolio Manager (EPA)

Sept. 16, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Sept. 16, 3–4 p.m.  Scaling the Ladder: Engagement Programs as Tools for Sustainability (AASHE)

Sept. 16, 1–2 p.m.  How Solar Energy Works (DOE)

Sept. 17, 1–2 p.m.  Worst Practices in Energy Benchmarking (EPA)

Sept. 17, 5–6 p.m.  Learning about Cloud Observations and Data Collection (NASA)

Sept. 23, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Sept. 23, 3–4 p.m.  Best Practices and Future COVID-19 Considerations for Energy & Sustainability Teams (AASHE)

Sept. 23, 5–6 p.m.  The Importance of Trees – Greening Up Globally (NASA)

Sept. 24, 1–2 p.m.  How to Apply for the ENERGY STAR for U.S. Buildings (EPA)

Sept. 28, 1–2 p.m.  NASA STEM at Home and School: Urban Heat Islands Story Map (NASA)

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

Sept. 30, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)



Cape May City Schools

Online Environmental Education Annual Conference 

The 49th North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) annual conference will be held virtually Oct. 13–16. 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 the 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. The conference will include a live session with the ED-GRS Director and several state program administrators.

Green wall Seattle Public Schools

EDspaces 2020

EDspaces is the gathering place for architects, dealers, pre-K–12 schools, colleges and universities, and independent manufacturer representatives, exhibitors, and corporations to learn about trends and experience the latest products and services in educational facilities. This year’s conference will be a digital experience that takes place Nov. 11–13.  

Students at SEEQS: The School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability remove invasive species

Students at the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School SEEQS: The School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability in Honolulu, HI, use a special technique to remove invasive fish species from the Manoa-Palolo stream that runs alongside campus.

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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