September 2022 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the September 2022 Green Strides

In the News

White House logo

White House Releases COVID Back to School Materials 

As we start another school year, the Biden administration highlighted key supports and guidance for protecting students, teachers, and school communities from the risks of COVID-19 spread. This includes making an abundance of federal indoor air quality resources available to schools. Effective ventilation and air filtration are important parts of COVID-19 prevention. The American Rescue Plan and other federal dollars may be used to make indoor air quality improvements, and the administration will continue to provide supports to schools to help in making these improvements.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Air in Buildings Challenge and its Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools provide specific steps schools can take to improve indoor air quality and reduce the risk of airborne spread of viruses and other contaminants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidance on Ventilation in Schools and Childcare Programs, including an Interactive School Ventilation Tool that shows how particle levels change as you adjust ventilation settings. The Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the Efficient and Healthy Schools campaign to support investments and improvements for healthy school facilities, including through recognition, training, technical assistance, and consultations on indoor air quality with individual schools and districts.

The administration will continue to highlight school districts excelling in efforts to improve indoor air quality. This includes the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award which allows schools to earn federal accolades for their sustainability work that exhibits indoor air quality, resource efficiency and conservation, and environmental learning. 

U.S. Department of Energy Logo

Second Round of the Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign and Efficiency Enhancement Technical Assistance

DOE's Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign aims to improve energy performance, reduce carbon emissions, and promote a healthy learning environment in schools. Your school or district can use technical assistance provided by Lawrence Berkley National Lab to identify and prioritize building retrofit measures and approaches to achieve greater energy savings, emissions reductions, and improved indoor air quality. DOE will recognize the top schools or districts for activities in the following categories: 1) energy efficiency plus health and 2) emissions reduction and resilience. If you would like to join the campaign or have questions, please contact

In addition to the campaign, if your school is looking to replace a chiller, boiler, rooftop unit, or building controls, DOE recommends consulting the newly released School Efficiency Enhancement Guides to multiply the energy savings of your building technology. The guides include information on performance requirements for energy efficiency, energy savings, and implementation costs to support school facilities staff involved with the planning, design, and specification of infrastructure upgrades.  

Academy for International Studies rotunda with children holding hands

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

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is a recognition award for school sustainability that encompasses building, grounds, operations, health, wellness, and learning.  For over a decade, it has been the anchor for the Department’s work related to environmental sustainability learning, efficiency, health, and infrastructure. Nomination normally flows from state education agencies or school building authorities, often bolstered by partner state agency and nonprofit partners, in their efforts to select nominees to the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Early learning centers, schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions of all types are eligible for nomination by their state.

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.  

EPA Logo

EPA Announces $11 Million for Technical Assistance Centers to Support Underserved Communities

EPA recently announced the availability of $11 million in initial grant funding to establish Environmental Justice Thriving Community Technical Assistance Centers across the nation. The centers will provide technical assistance, training, and capacity-building support to communities with environmental justice concerns and their partners. The support provided will focus on building community-centered collaborations through meaningful engagement, guidance on accessing other forms of support and technical assistance across the federal government, and assistance with writing grant proposals. This opportunity is available to public and private universities and colleges; public and private nonprofit institutions/organizations; and collaborating Tribal governments. First-round applications are due on Oct. 4. 

CDC logo

CDC Unveils Environmental Justice Index Tool

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' CDC and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recently released the Environmental Justice Index (EJI). The EJI is the first national, place-based tool designed to measure the cumulative impacts of environmental burden through the lens of human health and health equity. The EJI delivers a single environmental justice score for each community so that public health officials can identify and map areas most at risk for the health impacts of environmental burden. Individuals, organizations, governments, scientists, and researchers can use the EJI to 1) identify areas that may require special attention to improve health and health equity; 2) educate and inform the public about their community; 3) analyze the unique, local factors driving cumulative impacts on health to inform policy and decision-making; and 4) establish meaningful goals and measure progress toward environmental justice and health equity.

Resources and Opportunities

Francis Scott Key Elementary releasing shad fry

NOAA Great Lakes B-WET Grant

NOAA Great Lakes Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program funds locally relevant, authentic experiential learning for K-12 students and educators through Meaningful Watershed Experiences. The Great Lakes B-WET region supports experience-based learning opportunities for youth to promote Great Lakes stewardship in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin. Applications are due Sept. 20.

NEEF Climate Superstars Infographic

Register for the NEEF Climate Superstars Challenge

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) Climate Superstars Challenge registration has begun. Register and join the challenge starting on Oct. 1. Climate Superstars is an online environmental challenge that gets kids excited about the environment and how they can take an active role in caring for its future. During the challenge, middle school classrooms and after-school programs in grades 6-8 complete short tasks geared toward environmental literacy and energy efficiency. Classes that complete at least seven tasks in the month of October will be entered into a drawing to win one of six $5,000 e-vouchers for Samsung products.

Gadsden Elementary School water bottle filling

New Reducing Lead in Drinking Water Resources

The EPA recently published new educational materials to assist schools, child care and early childhood facilities to test and take action to reduce lead in drinking water. They include information on lead sample collection, case studies, plan implementation guidance, and funding opportunities.

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.

Suisun Valley K-8 School students cooking in lab

Suisun Valley K-8 School; Fairfield, California

Located in the heart of a viticulture area, Suisun Valley School (SVS) is a K-8 school focusing on agricultural technology. In 2013, the school constructed seven solar classrooms featuring solar tube lighting fixtures that shortened the time needed for electric lighting by 90%, while providing healthier, natural light to occupants. In 2020, SVS applied a cool roof system on all school buildings. SVS has a trench drain, xeriscaping, and drip irrigation campuswide. Students designed and maintain two 2,500-gallon cistern rain harvester systems that function with solar and wind energy. SVS raises chickens to consume waste and contribute organic fertilizer to the school garden. Together with a student devised and operated on-site composting bin system, a vermiculture program, and city organics pickup, these efforts eliminate the school’s waste removal costs. SVS employs a full-time agriscience teacher to oversee the school’s two-acre farm, which features a three-tower indoor hydroponic center, an outdoor kitchen classroom, a greenhouse, a quarter-acre of field crops, 104 raised beds, 29 fruit trees, a vineyard, a quarter-acre permaculture guild area, an eighth-acre California native garden section, and seed/cutting production areas. The goal of the agriscience program, in addition to teaching and reinforcing state science standards, is to teach K-8 students the origins of food, how it is grown or produced, and the vital role that agriculture plays in human survival. Each summer, the school’s garden becomes a community gathering place and food source where families and local community members are invited to gather fresh produce at no cost. 

St Dominic School kinder learning about baby chicks

St. Dominic School; Shaker Heights, Ohio 

In 2016, St. Dominic School launched its “Caring for God’s Creation” initiative. St. Dominic upgraded all lights to LED bulbs, added light and faucet motion sensors, and installed low-flow fixtures and water bottle filling stations. All students bring reusable water bottles to school each day. The school has regular inspections and an asbestos control plan in place. St. Dominic offers reusable trays, cups, and flatware in the cafeteria, composts food waste with a local contractor, eliminated plastic straws, participates in Crayola ColorCycle and TerraCycle, and organizes a uniform exchange. School lunches incorporate at least 25% locally grown and produced foods. St. Dominic features a robust health curriculum with social-emotional learning classes presented by the school counselor, offers yoga, and encourages students to eat outdoors. In 2015, St. Dominic School was reaccredited with a goal of increasing science, technology, religion, engineering, art, and math, or STREAM, education. In addition to completing the required coursework for each grade, students complete one or more project-based STREAM activities each year. This year, each grade level is focusing on trying to solve problems related to infrastructure in the area. In science classes, students learn how to interact with living things and the environment in ways that promote respect for the earth and all its inhabitants. Students at St. Dominic School participate in service learning at each grade level, including as part of the Earth Ambassadors Club. 

Lincoln High School CTE

Lincoln High School; Lincoln, Rhode Island 

Lincoln High School recently completed a renovation project that overhauled the previous facility and features low-flow and LED fixtures, daylighting, efficient systems, and a modern thermal envelope. The facility is benchmarked in EPA’s Portfolio Manager. School grounds include bioretention features, pervious surfaces, and native plantings such that no irrigation is needed. The cafeteria features locally sourced meat and produce, including locally grown apples with an apple-themed menu for an “Apple Crunch” event. Students are encouraged to take their environmental literacy to the next level through the availability of elective courses, such as AP environmental science, marine biology/zoology, as well as design and engineering career and technical education. Lincoln High School has a required civic responsibility course that includes a community service project for which many students choose to focus on environmental causes. The English curriculum includes units on Transcendentalism and Romanticism, which allows students to reflect upon the role nature plays in individuals’ daily lives. The required ninth grade physical science course includes a project-based learning unit called the Urban Heat Project, which culminates with students building and testing a model roof design, with the goal of minimizing urban heat.


Green Strides Design

Connect to the Green Strides Webinar Series This Fall

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.)

Sep. 7, 1 –5 p.m. Urban Outdoor Play and Learning (Natural Learning Initiative)

Sep. 7, 1–2 p.m. Info Session: Clean Earth Challenge (NWF)

Sep. 8, 7–8 p.m. Explore Earth: 50 Years of Landsat (NASA)

Sep. 12, 6–7 p.m. Double Asteroid Redirection Test (NASA)

Sep. 13, 1–2:15 p.m. Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Sep. 14, 12 –1 p.m. Addressing the Student Mental Health Crisis (Healthy Schools Campaign)

Sep 14, 2–3 p.m. Imaging the Future of Campus Food Service and Measuring Success (AASHE)

Sep. 14, 2–3 p.m. Indigenous Voices in the Outdoors (Rethink Outside)

Sep. 15, 5–6 p.m. Phenomena through the Lens of Agriculture Deep Dive (NEEF)

Sep. 15, 6–7 p.m. What’s Up with Earth’s Water Resources? (NASA)

Sep. 20, 1–2:15 p.m. Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Sep. 21, 1–2 p.m. Overview of Campus Race to Zero Waste 2023 Competition (NWF)

Sep. 21, 3–4 p.m. Sustainable Consumption in Higher Education (AASHE)

Sep. 21, 4:30–5:30 p.m. Urban Water Cycle (EGLE)

Sep. 21, 6–7 p.m. How Science and Education Can Protect Species and Fight Climate Change (National Marine Sanctuaries)

Sep. 22, 5–6 p.m. GLOBE Clouds One-Week Pacing Guides for Educators (NASA)

Sep. 26, 5–6 p.m. Ocean Circulation Patterns (NASA)

Sep. 27, 7–8 p.m. GLOBE Atmosphere & Clouds (NASA)

Sep. 28, 1–2 p.m. Plastics Reduction Partner Certification Program (NWF)

Sep 28, 2–3 p.m. Assessing Sustainability Literacy & Culture (AASHE)

Sep. 29, 5–6 p.m. STEM Fall Ecosystems Projects (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. 

Redding School of the Arts Healthy School Environments

EDSpaces Education Conference is Nov. 2-4 in Portland, Oregon

Innovation transforms learning environments, and it’s on full display at EDspaces. Both an incubator of progressive ideas and a knowledge-sharing playground, it unites the forward-thinking architects, designers, administrators, and facilities managers who are eagerly reimagining traditional school settings with the manufacturers, distributors, and service providers offering thoughtful products and solutions that holistically motivate students at all levels of their educational journey. The EDspaces Education Conference features a curated, multi-track educational and professional development series of 50+ education sessions conducted in classrooms designed by visionary architecture and design firms that competed to share their innovative ideas for the future of learning. Attendees choose among multiple learning options such as hands-on, deep-dive and quick-fire learning, and snack-size sessions in specialty spaces throughout the exhibit hall. EDfacilities Tours offer expeditionary learning of state-of-the-art, standout educational facilities, led by their design and facilities teams.

K-12 Facilities Forum Logo

K-12 Facilities Forum is Nov. 13-15 in Palm Springs, California

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.

Green Schools Conference Logo

Mark Your Calendar for the Green Schools Conference

The Green Schools Conference will be held Feb. 27 to March 1, 2023 at the Sheraton New Orleans. This is the only event to bring together all the players involved in making green schools a reality: people who lead, operate, build and teach in schools. Designed to educate, connect and inspire, attendees of the three-day in person conference will explore interdisciplinary content during general sessions, while also having dedicated time with peers to work through specific challenges, share best practices, and generate momentum to further green school actions across the country. The 2023 program will address topics from environmental impact, health and wellbeing, sustainability literacy, equity and whole school sustainability. Whether you are a teacher, school or district staff, educational leader, parent, student, building industry professional or nonprofit partner, the Green Schools Conference is the place to learn new ideas, and connect with other passionate green school champions.

Cambridge Elementary Solar Panels

2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Cambridge Elementary School (Cambridge, Wisconsin) added more efficient lighting, improved building envelope, and installed rooftop solar photovoltaic panels and solar thermal heating, in addition to purchasing renewable energy.

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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