August 2021 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the August 2021 Green Strides ...

In the News

Bayard recycling efforts

Virtual Sustainability Listening Sessions Continue This Month

Throughout the month of August, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has hosted public “Listening Sessions” to support an exchange of ideas about opportunities for federal education climate leadership. These sessions have explored the connections between climate, sustainability, environmental learning, infrastructure, green careers, the safe reopening of schools, and ongoing efforts to advance education equity. View past sessions at the links below.

  1. Equity in Sustainable Schools: Targeting Underserved Populations for Federal Support, Aug. 3
  2. School Infrastructure and Federal Programs, Aug. 5 
  3. Career Opportunities in the Green and Blue Economy Aug. 18 
  4. Incentivizing Outdoor and Environmental Education, Aug. 23 

And join us for the final session, Postsecondary Sustainability, Aug. 30, 2 p.m. ET by registering with your name, role, and organization to

Odyssey Charter School lettuce planting

Going for a 2022 Green Ribbon?

If your institution has not already been recognized, now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2021-2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools application cycle by using resources and programs available on Green Strides. Read frequently asked questions about all three of the award categories — schools, districts, and postsecondary. 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.  

Resources and Opportunities

U.S. Department of Energy Logo

Department of Energy Launches Efficient and Healthy Schools

U.S. Department of Energy, with support from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Education, has launched an Efficient and Healthy Schools campaign to engage K-12 schools to improve energy performance and indoor air quality in school buildings. The campaign aims to help schools identify practical HVAC solutions and upgrades to improve energy efficiency while promoting healthier spaces for teaching and learning. Joining the campaign is easy and free. Start by filling out a simple form to provide some basic information about your schools. For more information, please visit our website at or email

COVID-19 Handbook version 2 cover

COVID-19 & School Reopening Resources

Meet the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Get to know the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools in our annual Highlights Report. Below, we spotlight three of the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.

Newman Grove water quality project

Newman Grove Public Schools; Newman Grove, Nebraska

Newman Grove Public Schools (NGPS) is a small, rural school serving 186 students, elementary through high school. The school Future Farmers of America (FFA) program oversees paper and aluminum recycling. The agriculture mechanics class partners with a local manufacturing company to collect their metal scrap to use in the welding course throughout the year. The FFA students maintain a greenhouse where students grow lettuce for the school cafeteria. NGPS participates in “Nebraska Beef in Schools,” where local families donate beef to the school lunch program. The NGPS Shell Creek project studies the effects of agricultural chemicals on the environment in the local area. To better understand and potentially reverse these harmful changes in the stream, students from NGPS have volunteered their summers to monitor the water quality for nearly 20 years. They test six sites covering more than 30 miles of the watershed. New technologies have been added to the project, such as drones and GIS. Approximately one-fourth to one-third of the junior high and high school student population participates in this program annually, providing year-round learning opportunities.

Winslow Township Middle School Cooking Challenge

Winslow Township Middle School; Atco, New Jersey

Students at Winslow Township Middle School, in Atco, New Jersey, use plant-based food waste and worms to make compost for their gardens. Food challenges based on the popular cooking show “Chopped” encourage students to create healthy plant-based dishes based on the foods in the garden. WTMS has an 820.54 kW solar system with a production of 1.02 MW that is owned and operated by National Energy Partners. STEM teachers have incorporated the solar panel energy generation into classroom lessons using the New Jersey EmPower Schools program. Students from the Environmental STEM classes explore environmental issues facing the world through the study of the campus environment, developing and testing solutions to address those issues. One focus for this course is sustainable agriculture, soil and water health, and food supply.

The Nueva School Hillsborough Campus

The Nueva School; Hillsborough, California

The Nueva School, an independent school serving gifted learners, has emphasized environmental education across its campuses. The Hillsborough campus offers nearly 34 wooded acres for environmental exploration, gardening, nature immersion, and studies of ecological systems. The San Mateo campus reflects a sustainable urban design and features easy access to public transit. The Hillside Learning Center was the first LEED Gold K-12 building in the country. The upper school campus in San Mateo is entirely LEED Gold-certified. Sustainability practices include eliminating single-use plastics and creating a three-stream waste disposal system. The school features high-efficiency faucets and toilets, drip irrigation and xeriscaping, green roofs, and solar photovoltaic systems that supply an estimated 22% of Nueva’s total electricity needs. Both campuses have EV charging stations. Healthy, nutritious school lunches and daytime snacks are provided on both campuses, using locally sourced, organically grown, and nourishing ingredients. Annually, students participate in a four-day intersession offering more than 200 “learning and doing” opportunities. Nueva’s uniquely designed educational travel program provides students with extensive opportunities to study environmental systems and their connections to culture, language, history, and local economies. Students hike and maintain trails in P.E. class, study the economics of environmental issues, explore environmental justice and equity issues in political science and government, and apply ecological philosophies in ecological humanities. 


Green Strides Design

Take Advantage of the Ongoing Green Strides Webinar Series 

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 2,200 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 Below is a sampling of the webinars available. (Note: All times listed are ET.)

Aug. 26, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Launching Rockets with NASA’s Launch Services Program (NASA)

Aug. 30, 1-2 p.m. Aeronaut X:  Shape Your Flight! (NASA)

Aug. 31, 1-2 p.m. Robotics and Automated Reconfigurable Mission Adaptive Digital Assembly Systems Project (NASA)

Aug. 31, 6-7 p.m. Explore Moon to Mars:  Making it Culturally Relevant (NASA)

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

Sept. 1, 1–2 p.m. NASA’s Best:  Engineering Design Process (NASA)

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

Sept. 2, 6-7 p.m. 4H - Aquifers (NASA)

Sept. 2, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Detecting Earthquakes . . . While in the Air? (NASA)

Sept. 7, 1-2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Sept. 8, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Reduciendo el sonido en los X-Planes con la actividad:  Efectos del Sonido (Sound Effects) (NASA)

Sept. 9, 2=3 p.m. Using Data to Drive School Sustainability with Arc (USGBC)

Sept. 9, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Sustainable Aquaculture from Space (NASA)

Sep. 13, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Robotics for K-12 Learners (Part 1) (NASA)

Sept. 14, 1-2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Sept. 15, 12-1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Sept. 15, 6-7 p.m. Sculpting Lunar Geology (NASA)

Sept. 20, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Climate Change Resources and Project-Based Learning (NASA)


BCS solar aerial view

EDspaces 2021

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 held Oct. 10–13 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

NAAEE 2021 Conference postcard

Virtual North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference 

The 50th North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) annual conference will be held virtually, from Oct. 11–15.  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 annual Research Symposium, held in advance of the conference, attracts new and established researchers to examine in-progress environmental education research and promote dialogue between researchers and practitioners.

Southeastern Louisiana University Dining

Online Higher Education Sustainability Conference

The 2021 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education will be held virtually Oct. 12–14. 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. 

Furman University solar farm research

Association for Learning Environments LearningSCAPES 2021 

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. 14–18 in Denver, Colorado. Attend for groundbreaking educational sessions, inspiring keynote speakers, and a showcase of state-of-the-art tools that move learning into the future. 

Martin County School District environmental field trip

Students at 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awardee Martin County School District in Florida participate in hands-on environmental education at Dickinson State Park.

Quote to Note

"I would like to encourage the Department to gather more information about major infrastructure issues that are challenging our schools and how we can create solutions for these issues. Some additional infrastructure issues that come to mind from my conversations with teachers around the country include: aged buildings that need major structural/electrical/plumbing renovations, buildings that lack sufficient classroom space, buildings that cannot accommodate the needs of 21st century technology, lack of access to 21st century technology, unsafe drinking water, and lack of/broken climate control systems. These infrastructure challenges are pressing issues that impact our teachers and students on a daily basis and directly contribute to observed inequities in education, health, and climate."  — Educator, Kingston, Rhode Island, regarding ED Aug. 5 Listening Session on school infrastructure

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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