December 2021 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the December 2021 Green Strides...

In the News

White House logo

Biden Administration Aims to Catalyze America’s Clean Energy Economy Through Federal Sustainability

On Dec. 8, the Biden administration announced an executive order that directs the federal government to use its scale and procurement power to achieve five ambitious goals in tackling the climate crisis:

  1. 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030, at least half of which will be locally supplied;
  2. 100 percent zero-emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027;
  3. Net-zero emissions from federal procurement no later than 2050, including a Buy Clean policy to promote use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions;
  4. A net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, including a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2032;
  5. Net-zero emissions from overall federal operations by 2050, including a 65 percent emissions reduction by 2030.

Visit the Office of the Chief Sustainability Officer's webpage to learn more about The Federal Sustainability Plan: Catalyzing America’s Clean Energy Industries and Creating Jobs Through Federal Sustainability.

Resources and Opportunities

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School Ambassador Fellowship opportunity

Educators implementing effective environmental and sustainability learning initiatives are encouraged to apply for the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED's) School Ambassador Fellowship (SAF). The SAF is designed to leverage the expertise of school-based practitioners in the creation, dissemination, and evaluation of national education policy. The SAF has two options; a full-time appointment and a part-time fellowship. For more information and to apply, visit the School Ambassador Fellowship website. Applications are due Jan. 14, 2022.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Calls for Applications From Students, Educators, and Schools

The application period is now open for the 2021-22 President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) program and the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). The PEYA program recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth that promote awareness of our nation's natural resources and encourage positive community involvement. The PIAEE recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for student learning. Applications for both programs are due Feb.18, 2022. Additionally, EPA's Office of Environmental Education is looking for volunteers who are knowledgeable in environmental education  to assist in evaluating FY 2021 Environmental Education Grants. If you are interested in this opportunity, please email your resume and brief statement of interest to by December 31, 2021.

DOE Solar Decathlon Logo

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Over its existence, the Solar Decathlon has challenged more than 25,000 students to create high-performance, efficient, and affordable buildings powered by renewables while promoting student innovation, STEM education, and workforce development opportunities in the buildings industry. Now, it’s the 20th anniversary of the Solar Decathlon, and 133 teams from 107 collegiate institutions are off to the races as the competition begins for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® 2022 Design Challenge and 2023 Build Challenge teams in 20 countries and 29 U.S. states


NOAA Support to Environmental Literacy Efforts

Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) funding is provided through competitive grants that promote Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences. The B-WET program offers regional funding opportunities through local NOAA host offices, which are published in late summer or fall each year. The regions served by the program, which have open applications (deadlines vary), are: California, Chesapeake, Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, and Pacific Northwest. 

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AmeriCorps Toolkit: Leverage National Service in Your School

Superintendent’s/Principal’s Toolkit, designed to help schools leverage national service, is now available. AmeriCorps members and volunteers support students in nearly 12,000 public, private, and charter schools across the country to improve attendance and engagement, increase high-school graduation rates and expand college enrollment. Several ED Green Ribbon Schools honorees have hosted AmeriCorps volunteers. Learn more about how AmeriCorps can help your schools and organizations on the “What We Do” page. The updated toolkit aligns with ED’s Reopening Roadmap.

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

Congratulations to the 2021 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 ED’s awards page. Three of the honorees are spotlighted below.  

Scarsdale Middle School Hydroponic Garden Tower

Scarsdale Middle School; Scarsdale, New York

At Scarsdale Middle School (SMS) 75% of teachers have participated in approximately 30 professional development courses related to the integration of environmental studies, sustainability, STEM, green technology, and civics into curricula. The SMS sustainability curriculum is interdisciplinary and asks students to connect what they learn about science, math, economics, politics, and justice to climate change issues. Students are challenged to examine their own carbon footprint and to reflect on their habits. They participate in environmental stewardship opportunities, such as garden maintenance, cleanups, compost workshops, and recycling assemblies, and interact with guest speakers and other community partners. Students plan and develop space for seasonal growing, harvest and donate food, and prepare ingredients for cooking. The school's enclosed courtyard houses 10 raised beds of approximately 1,000 square feet. SMS has implemented a composting program, and after becoming well versed in the sorting of their waste at school, students participate and continue their education with their families as part of SMS’ at-home composting program. Over two years, SMS has documented a 57% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 45% reduction in energy use in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

Wheaton Christian Grammar School pollinator garden installation

Wheaton Christian Grammar School; Winfield, Illinois

Wheaton Christian Grammar School (WCGS) features a geothermal energy system that allows 73% of energy needs to be met on-site. Forty-one percent of the 34-acre property was set aside for natural wetlands, stormwater management, habitat development, and instructional use. WCGS has installed two water bottle filling stations, a student-decorated rain barrel that collects water for the 300-square-foot community garden, and a 300-square-foot pollinator garden. The STEAM program maintains an indoor tower garden for instructional purposes. Repurposing wood pallets, WCGS built four compost bins near the community garden and added a space to share untouched, unwanted, or unneeded food at lunch time. A worm bin in the STEAM Lab helps lunch scraps decompose. Students in the school's Creation Care Club maintain, plant, and care for the tower, bee, and community gardens. The club also helps plant bulbs near the main entrance of the school, reseeds the prairie, picks up garbage near waterways, helps teach younger students about creation care, and supports the recycling and composting program at WCGS.

Gerald Otte-Blair Middle School Football Team going to turn compost

Gerald Otte-Blair Middle School; Blair, Nebraska

In August 2019, Gerald Otte-Blair Middle School (OBMS) began composting all cafeteria food scraps using the vermiculture method and composting bins built by environmental science students and compost turning by student organizations like the football team. OBMS composted over 1,700 pounds of food scraps over the course of the year. During compost lessons, students learn about what composting is and how to do it, as well as why it is an important way to provide quality soil for plants to grow in. OBMS participates in the Trex Challenge for the recycling of plastic bags, taking home accolades. The school partners with DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Reserve to provide an Outdoor Environmental Science Class at the reserve. A STEM class at OBMS allows students to learn the theory behind several renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

Green Strides Webinars

Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues Through Winter

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 2,500 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 ET.)

Jan. 5, noon–1:15 p.m. Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

Jan. 6, 5–6 p.m. Elementary GLOBE Picture Books (NASA)

Jan. 11, noon–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Jan. 11, 7–8 p.m. ECLSS, Water Filtration & the Engineering Design Process (NASA)

Jan. 12, 3–4 p.m. Curricula That Inspire Action on Climate Solutions (AASHE)

Jan. 13, 3–4 p.m. Recognition Your College or University Can Earn from EPA ENERGY STAR in 2022 (EPA)

Jan. 14, 2–3 p.m. School Building Science: Zero Energy, Zero Carbon & Electrification (CHPS)

Jan. 18, 11 a.m.–noon Classroom to Career:  Advancement in Energy Efficiency Jobs (DOE)

Jan. 19, noon–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Jan. 19, 7:30–8:30 p.m. Empowering Student Action with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Green Teacher)

Jan. 25, 7–8 p.m. Christa McAuliffe’s Lost Lessons in Space on Newton’s Laws (NASA)

Jan. 26, noon–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

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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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