August 2022 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the August 2022 Green Strides

In the News

Suisun Valley Plaque

2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Ceremony 

Representatives from the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees were honored at a ceremony on Tuesday, July 26, in Washington, D.C. The awardees were recognized for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education. Representatives from the honorees received sustainably crafted plaques in recognition for their achievements. Learn more about the event by viewing the video, photos, blog, and media advisory.

On hand for the event at the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) were White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Assistant Administrator Alejandra Núñez, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and White House Deputy National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi offered pre-recorded remarks. The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council offered a reception at SmithGroup following the ceremony.

The Biden administration has taken significant steps to improve environmental sustainability, climate, and infrastructure for all schools.  For its part, the Department has:

  • Strengthened its participation in interagency efforts related to sustainability and climate, including by collaborating on the release of a White House toolkit to help schools and school districts access available funding and technical assistance to help schools improve school sustainability and environmental health, as part of a broader Plan for Building Better Infrastructure.
  • Administered the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program, which includes $122 billion to support a wide range of pandemic response and recovery efforts, including school improvements to ventilation and building energy systems that support healthy environments and reduced energy costs.
  • Offered guidance on the late liquidation of these funds to accommodate the longer timelines of infrastructure projects.
  • Designated an employee as special advisor for infrastructure and sustainability to help drive public engagement, programs, coordination, and guidance with consideration to these matters.

The Department also proposed in its fiscal year 2023 budget a new office and clearinghouse for infrastructure and sustainability. This office would oversee a clearinghouse to provide technical assistance and training to state and local educational agencies on issues related to educational facility planning, design, financing, construction, improvement, operation, and maintenance, including green building design and operation practices consistent with the administration’s commitment to address the causes and consequences of climate change. The new office would provide additional capacity to engage with multi-agency efforts, education stakeholders, states, and districts and would advise the Department on matters related to climate, sustainability, environment, and infrastructure.

Academy for International Studies rotunda with children holding hands

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

On Earth Day, April 22, in a video message from Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and and press release, the Department 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 2022-2023 application cycle by using the resources on the Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub and by contacting your state education authority. 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 the Department's website and may email U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.  

Resources and Opportunities

CNG buses

EPA Resources for School and Fleet Efficiency; Health

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean School Bus Program, established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, helps school districts replace existing diesel school buses with cleaner and healthier electric and low-emission school buses. Learn more about the benefits of clean school buses and apply to participate by Aug.19. To ensure that this funding reaches the highest need communities, EPA will prioritize low-income, rural, and Tribal school districts in the selection process. School districts can apply for 25 buses in one application. 

The EPA continues to offer long-standing efficiency programs, such as ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®, that helps schools measure and track energy performance and highlights achievements through recognition. On the environmental quality side, EPA oversees the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program, which offers an action kit, on-demand webinars, guidance, frameworks, and a mobile app.  

B-WET 20 year anniversary

2022 Marks National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Bay Watershed Education and Training Program’s 20th Anniversary

Over 20 years, the NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program has become a powerful catalyst for environmental literacy and been used by many U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools over the years. B-WET and the Meaningful Watershed Education Experience framework support environmental education, foster student success and engagement, and empower students to implement environmental solutions in their own communities. Visit the B-WET anniversary website for stories that illustrate how the B-WET program has impacted students, schools, and communities over the past 20 years. And look for B-WET posts highlighting #BWET20andGROWING on NOAA Education’s social media and B-WET’s Facebook page on August 8-19.

Ben and Jerry's logo

Ben & Jerry’s Grassroots Organizing  Grants 

The National Grassroots Organizing Program offers one-year general operating support grants of up to $30,000, with an average grant size of $20,000, to small, nonprofit grassroots organizations throughout the United States that are not located in the state of Vermont. Total funding is $350,000 annually. The foundation considers proposals from grassroots organizations that are working to help themselves and their communities create broad systems change through community organizing and movement-building efforts. The program prioritizes organizations that are led by communities of color while working toward a more just and equitable society. The next proposal deadline is Aug. 15.

FAS Logo

ED is Hiring an Environmental Sustainability and Infrastructure Fellow

The Department has, for over a decade, offered U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), a recognition award to highlight schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions’ innovative environmental sustainability practices. From this award, it created the Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub to promote resources, webinars, and ED-GRS honorees’ innovative practices. The Environmental Sustainability and Infrastructure Fellow will play a critical role in evaluating, strategizing, and developing work plans and processes as ED advances new efforts in these areas. The Fellow will work with their supervisor to build the first office at ED specifically tasked with sustainability, infrastructure, and climate topics. Funded by the Federation of American Scientists, the position is open through Aug. 15. Read more about the position details and apply, and contact with any questions.

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

Get to know the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools in our annual Highlights Report. Below, we spotlight three of the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.

Crellin Elementary School

Crellin Elementary School; Oakland, Maryland  

Environmental education and sustainability changes at Crellin Elementary School (CES) began when the school community found historic mining contaminants in the creek behind the school. Not only was CES able to remedy the pollution, but it increased the overall health of the riparian area while creating an outdoor classroom. The environmental education laboratory is an outdoor classroom where students participate in hands-on activities using the wetland, boardwalk, hemlock forest, vernal ponds, meadows, orchard, and adjacent creek. CES’s agriculture program features barns with sheep and hens, with a solar panel to maximize hens’ egg production through daylight provision. Cafeteria food waste and animal waste are both composted and then used in the gardens. The greenhouse employs hydroponics systems. Educational opportunities include maintaining a native butterfly garden, developing integrated pest management plans for the garden, building and erecting bird and bat boxes, exploring the riparian area, planting native trees and shrubs, trout rearing and release, and conducting water quality testing. Other outdoor activities that engage students in civics and place-based learning include raking and jumping in leaves, sledding, shoveling snow, fort building, nature walks, wool shearing, and community cleanups. The school acquires local meat through donations for the school lunch program. CES has made efficiency upgrades, including building automation, interior and exterior LED lights, double-paned windows, HVAC, and building envelope, leading to an immediate decrease in energy usage. Low-flow fixtures reduce domestic water consumption, and rain barrels provide water for gardens and barn animals.   

Urban Prairie Waldorf School playlot mounds

Urban Prairie Waldorf School; Chicago, Illinois  

Urban Prairie Waldorf School (UPWS) is an independent school that serves infants through eighth grade. Over half of UPWS families qualify for the variable tuition program. The curriculum incorporates nature experiences, outdoor movement‐based learning, excursions throughout the city, and learning by doing. UPWS’s formal environmental sustainability efforts began with the adoption of the school’s Sustainability Charter in 2019. The charter built on UPWS’s prior sustainability efforts and focused new efforts on reducing the environmental impact and costs of the school’s 70‐year‐old facility. UPWS contracted an energy assessment and retrofitted its lighting in early 2021, leading to a 63% average monthly reduction in electricity consumption compared to the previous year. UPWS also installed a demonstration solar array in late 2021, providing a context for students to study real‐world math concepts. UPWS has developed its campus into a green schoolyard, where students play, plant, harvest, tend to animals, and learn. This included transforming an unshaded asphalt lot with natural climbing structures, a large sand area, a goat habitat, raised earthen berms, and hügelkultur‐inspired mounds. All of this provides learning benefits, such as opportunities to explore, get muddy, and conduct experiments in nature, as well as environmental benefits, including reduced stormwater runoff and potable water irrigation needs. UPWS students receive at least an hour of outdoor play each day. Middle schoolers go on regular walking expeditions, sometimes up to 10 miles in a day, with the city as their classroom. Families pack minimal-waste lunches, and about 25% of families participate in a weekly regeneratively farmed produce delivery program. Every class starts the day in games, movement (yoga, folk dancing, poems with movement, developmental exercises) before the teacher brings students to seated learning.

Charles H Barrows STEM Academy monarch butterfly release

Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy; Windham, Connecticut 

Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy (Barrows) was designed for sustainability and use of the school as a learning tool. The school is a Connecticut Green Leaf School, National Wildlife Habitat, and Monarch Way Station. Sustainable education unfolds in specialized labs and classrooms, outdoor classrooms, raised garden beds, courtyards, walking paths, meadow, marsh area, wetland, and wooded temperate forest. Barrows’ oceanography room boasts saltwater and freshwater tanks and leverages NOAA B-Wet grant funding. A new 160-foot greenhouse will extend the growing season and enhance the urban farming curriculum. The campus features swales, ponds, and meadows for field study, after-school activities, and an annual BioBlitz. Using the outdoors as learning labs, from planting window box seeds to managing outdoor gardens, students learn firsthand about alternative energy generation from renewable energy sources. Barrows’ food share program helps students facing food insecurity, and composting efforts benefit the garden. An aeration green wall magnifies the natural purifying properties of plants 200 times. Stormwater management features funnel water down rain chains and into a dry riverbed. All fixtures are low flow and automatic. Barrows designates parking spaces for low-impact vehicles. The school is home to a full-service health center and uses nontoxic cleaning products and MERV-13 filters. Project-based learning provides a real-world context for learning STEM, both outdoor and in classrooms.


Green Strides Design

Connect to the Green Strides Webinar Series This Summer

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 2,800 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.)

Aug. 3, 7–8 p.m. Deep Space Communications Performance (NASA)

Aug. 4, 1–2 p.m. Understanding Weather to Fly By (NASA)

Aug. 8, 6–7 p.m. Aeronaut-X:  Engineering Design and the X-57 Maxwell (NASA)

Aug. 9, 5–6 p.m. NASA Advanced Air Mobility (NASA)

Aug. 10, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Aug. 10, 1–2 p.m. 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates:  Rural Electric Cooperatives Infrastructure Funding (EPA)

Aug. 10, 2–3 p.m. Safe Routes Back to School Informal Zoom Session (Safe Routes Partnership)

Aug. 11, 3–4 p.m. The Carbon Almanac (Green Schools National Network)

Aug. 15, 6–7 p.m. Aeronaut-X:  Propeller Design Challenge (NASA)

Aug. 17, 2–3 p.m. How to Prepare Graduates for Sustainability Jobs and Careers (AASHE)

Aug. 18, 2–3 p.m. Developing and Tracking Institutional Waste Goals (CURC)

Aug. 22, 6–7 p.m. Hurricanes as Heat Engines (NASA)

Aug. 23, 1–2 p.m. Four Forces of Flight (NASA)

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

Aug. 24, 2–3 p.m. Environmental Justice in Higher Education (AASHE)

Aug. 25, 1–2 p.m. Explore Flight:  3-2-1 Lift Off! (NASA)

Aug. 30, 1–2 p.m. Innovative Tools and Resources for Students (NASA)

Aug. 30, 5–6 p.m. NASA’s X-57 Maxwell Electric Airplane (NASA)


NEEF National Public Lands Day Banner

National Public Lands Day is Sept. 24

The National Environmental Education Foundation’s National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer event for public lands. Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, this celebration brings out thousands of volunteers to help restore and improve public lands around the country. NPLD is also a Fee-Free Day, one of only five days a year when entrance fees are waived at national parks and other public lands. Find resources for registering an NPLD event, tips for hosting an in-person or virtual event, a map for locating NPLD events near you, and so much more. 

2022 NAAEE Conference

North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference

The 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. NAAEE’s 2022 conference will focus on the powerful role education can play in creating healthier communities and tackling today’s complex environmental and social issues. 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. 

K-12 Facilities Forum

The K-12 Facilities Forum is an annual event that connects and informs K-12 facilities leaders and business administrators involved in all aspects of planning, design, construction, and operations. The event will take place Nov. 13-15 in Palm Springs, California and more information on attending can be found here.

K-12 Facilities Forum Logo
Escuela Verde Birdwatching

2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Escuela Verde (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) students join local nonprofit representatives on morning bird watching walks during their community science program.

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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