June 2022 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the June 2022 Green Strides

In the News

drew charter LEED gold facility

Spending Guidance for School Construction Projects Using American Recovery Plan Funds

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is doing everything possible to assist schools with the judicious use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. ED understands the specific challenges schools face with a limited supply of materials and labor to meet critical school facility needs, such as updates or replacement of HVAC systems to improve both efficiency and indoor environmental quality.  While ED does not have the authority to extend the fund obligation deadlines indicated in federal legislation, ED can extend a liquidation period for schools to complete ARP projects. This communication from Assistant Secretary Roberto Rodriguez provides clarification that schools should proceed in obligating these funds as soon as possible with the understanding that there are procedures for the extension of their liquidation, if they become necessary. 

ED-GRS new logo corrected

Apply to Your State for ED-GRS in 2022–23

On Earth Day, April 22, in a video message from Secretary Cardona, blog, report, and press release, the U.S. Department of Education announced the names of the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. 

For those schools that have not previously received the ED-GRS award, now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2022–23 application cycle by using the resources on Green Strides and by contacting your state education authority.  Review Frequently Asked Questions for all three award categories.  Interested colleges and universities may contact their state higher education authorities, while schools and districts may contact state educational agencies.  State education authorities can find award implementation guidance on ED’s website and may email U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.  

Resources and Opportunities

Green Schoolyards America Logo

Outdoor Learning Webinar Recordings and Resource Library

Over the last several weeks, a four-part webinar series featured expert speakers and school, district, and state-level practitioners  to support action to get more students learning outside more often. View the webinar recordings, consult a blog with details on the third in the series focused on outdoor learning and infrastructure, which includes an overview of the ED role in this work, and join the final session on May 25. In addition, consult the National Outdoor Learning Library, an expansive set of free resources for schools and districts to support equitable access to outdoor learning and living schoolyards beyond the pandemic.


New Guidance to Improve Air Quality in Schools

Last month, ASHRAE released a design guidance document for education facilities. The guidance is for owners, operators, designers, and professional service providers on how to best implement indoor air-quality improvements and risk mitigation strategies. The guidance recommends buildings perform a physical assessment of existing HVAC infrastructure and states that this baseline assessment must be performed by a skilled, trained, and certified technician. The guidance can serve as a resource for education facilities to improve indoor air quality and reduce the risk of transmission of infectious pathogens and other contaminants of concern, including COVID-19.

NBI Decarbonization Guide for Schools

Decarbonization Roadmap for Schools

A new guide from the New Buildings Institute, Decarbonization Roadmap Guide for School Building Decision Makers, can help districts leverage funding opportunities by developing a district decarbonization roadmap to identify cost effective strategies and approaches to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across a portfolio of buildings.

NAAEE logo

Pratt & Whitney Global E-STEM Awards 

The North American Association for Environmental Education and  join Pratt & Whitney are working to inspire the next generation of E-STEM innovators. The Pratt & Whitney Global E-STEM Awards will recognize nonprofits across the globe that are building skills and capacity for students ages 11–18 to use science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to address environmental challenges. Apply by July 11th.

Meet the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Meet the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. Throughout the year, we’ll highlight a few honorees’ practices in every newsletter.

Brittany Woods Middle School, in the School District of University City, has its own apiary.

The School District of University City; University City, Missouri  

In 2010 and 2011, The School District of University City (SDUC) constructed two LEED-certified elementary schools. In 2013, it installed solar panels on six of eight buildings. The district participates in utility rebate incentive programs and has upgraded and retro-commissioned HVAC systems to ensure they work optimally. SDUC eliminated the use of plastic straws and implemented a multistep process to ensure that district assets are reused, repurposed, repaired, or recycled. SDUC installed LED lights, motion-sensored sinks and toilets, water bottle filling stations, rain gardens, and outdoor STEAM labs with composting at every school site. In addition to tending to food gardens with garden facilitators at every site, students at one middle school  care for chickens and tend to bees. The gardens are not only working laboratories to learn about ecosystems, environmental sustainability, and growing food, they also integrate the arts, student service projects, and other outdoor activities that demonstrate the district’s commitment to social-emotional learning, trauma-informed schools, and racial equity. The district offers a high school restorative practices class and wellness lounge, and has four trauma specialists, in addition to social workers and nurses at each site. The annual districtwide STEAM Expo highlights and showcases STEAM initiatives, including those with a sustainability focus. A free summer camp facilitates student visits to St. Louis Zoo, the Green Center, St. Louis Science Center, and Forest Park. 

Villa Del Rey Creative Sciences and Arts Magnet School students plant milkweed

Villa Del Rey Creative Sciences and Arts Magnet School; Baton Rouge, Louisiana 

Villa Del Rey Creative Sciences and Arts Magnet School (Villa del Rey) is a Title I school where 20%–30% of families are classified as food insecure. Recognizing the deep-seated cyclical impacts that school families face, Villa Del Rey and district staff embarked on a mission to implement educational initiatives that would invoke long-term community health and viability. A key driver to removing barriers and cultivating resiliency is a U.S. Department of Education-funded Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant, which has facilitated renewable energy coding courses. Environmental concepts are integrated through diverse curricula offerings and age-appropriate civic engagement opportunities. Villa Del Rey is the only elementary school in the parish to have a dedicated renewable energy lab. There, students explore sustainable energy generation and transference through green micro-gym stationary bikes, while improving their fitness. All staff members attend National Energy Education Development workshops and conferences each year. Project-based learning themes connect alternative energy methods to Louisiana place-based issues like hurricanes and coastal erosion. Students build, maintain, and leverage campus gardens of all shapes and sizes, indoors and out, from tower to container, using sustainable practices to address local food scarcity challenges. They participate in soil preparation, seed planting, cultivation, harvesting, and food preparation with two mobile kitchens. Through a partnership with Aramark, students conducted a schoolwide energy audit and learned strategies to reduce energy and water consumption. Through various conservation efforts, including rainwater reclamation, awareness campaigns, and the implementation of different water savings policies, Villa del Rey reduced on-campus water consumption by 73% over six years. The student Energy Team conducts biweekly campus walk-throughs and identifies ways to reduce energy consumption. 

Queen of Peace Catholic School student observation

Queen of Peace Catholic School; Salem, Oregon 

Queen of Peace (QPS) earned its Green School Flag certification through Eco-Schools USA, which required the school to follow a rigorous seven-step framework and three pathways, including forming an eco-action team, conducting various audits, creating an “eco-action plan" and "eco-code.” Through its many partnerships, QPS installed several gardens on campus, including a hydroponic garden, a pollinator garden, 10 raised beds, blueberry bushes, fruit trees, an in-ground squash garden, and a raspberry garden. Each day, students tend to these gardens by measuring their food waste and adding it to the gardens to supplement the nutrients in the soil. Indoor hydroponic gardens supplement the locally sourced nutrition program. QPS installed energy-efficient windows and purchased a school bus for field trips. The school features water bottle filling stations and timers on bathroom fixtures and outside irrigation systems to reduce water use. The school’s maintenance personnel implement integrated pest management, monitor ventilation, and purchase nontoxic cleaning supplies. The environmental education team at QPS constructs place-based outdoor education lessons that integrate No Trace principles, STEM, problem-solving, and exploratory learning. Students engage in citizen science through various water quality monitoring projects, as well as Feederwatch and Globe programs. The QPS One Hundred Hours Outdoors digital badging program offers students a digital badge for every 10 hours they spend outside. Students raise salmon and trout and learn about natural resource careers and climate science through work with Oregon Parks and Wildlife and the National Park Service. 


Green Strides Design

Connect to the Green Strides Webinar Series This Spring

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 2,600 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 ET.)

May 25, 5–6 p.m. Equity in Outdoor Education & Environmental Justice (EcoRise)

May 31, 1–2:30 p.m. Part 1 - Lead Testing in Drinking Water in Child Care and Early Childhood Facilities (EPA/HHS)

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

June 1, 2–3 p.m. Building a Weather-Ready Nation (AMS)

June 1, 3–4 p.m. Using Climate Change Games in the Classroom (AASHE)

June 1, 6–7 p.m. NOAA Resource Collections:  Coral Reef and Kelp Forest Ecosystems (National Marine Sanctuaries)

June 7, 1–2 p.m. Digital Badges for Educators and Students (NASA)

June 8, 3–4 p.m. GHG Emissions Reduction (Scopes 1 and 2) (AASHE)

June 8, 7–8 p.m. Tools and Resources for Summer Fun Outdoors (Green Teacher)

June 9, 5–6 p.m. Climate Change – The Air We Breathe (NASA)

June 14, 1–2:30 p.m. Part 2 - Collecting Lead Samples in Drinking Water in Child Care and Early Childhood Facilities (EPA/HHS)

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

June 15, 2–3 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Reducing Costs with Quick Water Wins (EPA)

June 23, 1–2:30 p.m. Part 3 - Reducing Lead Exposure in Drinking Water in Child Care and Early Childhood Facilities (EPA/HHS)

June 28, 1–2 p.m. Climate Change:  Heat Waves and Air Temperature (NASA)

June 29, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager: Ask the Expert (EPA)

June 29, 3–4 p.m. Climate Fiction, Science Fiction, and the Culture of Sustainability 2 (AASHE)


Great Outdoors Month Logo

Celebrate Great Outdoors Month

June is Great Outdoors Month — a celebration of our parks and waters and the many ways to enjoy them.  It’s also a time to reflect on what we can do to preserve America’s natural spaces for the enjoyment of future generations.  The month includes National Trails Day (June 4), National Fishing and Boating Week (June 4-12), National Get Outdoors Day (June 12), and the Great American Campout.  

Gilbert Elementary Nature Kindergarten Fort in Georgia

Early Learning Conference

The Natural Start Alliance Nature-Based Early Learning Conference will take place in Cincinnati from July 27 to 30.  Attend the virtual conference for teaching, administration, research, and educator preparation, as well as advocacy in nature-based early learning.  

Climate Generation

Summer Institute for Climate Change Education Is July 18-19

Join a network of teachers from across the country for a three-day virtual conference to learn new tools, skills, and resources to teach climate change in any subject area! Climate Generation’s  annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education will be hosted in partnership with The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s  Climate Office. Register and learn more about scholarship and cohort leader opportunities.

2022 NAAEE Conference

North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference

The 50th North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) annual conference will be held in Tucson, from Oct. 12–15.  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 (Oct. 11–12), attracts new and established researchers to examine in-progress environmental education research and promote dialogue between researchers and practitioners.

Green Apple Day of Service Logo

Plan a Green Apple Day of Service at Your School

As schools return to in-person classes this fall, 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.    

Charles H Barrows STEM Academy Butterfly release

At 2022 ED-GRS honoree Charles Barrows STEM Academy, in Windham, Connecticut, sustainable education unfolds in specialized labs, outdoor classrooms, courtyards, gardens, wetlands, forests, and a Certified Monarch Waystation.

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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