November 2022 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the November 2022 Green Strides Newsletter

In the News

DOE Facilities Grant Program

Department of Energy Announces the First Tranche of $500 Million Program to Make Clean Energy Improvements in K-12 Schools and the Second Round of Efficient and Healthy Schools 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a new funding opportunity to mitigate the historic inequity of school facilities investments, reduce school energy costs, and create well-paying jobs. The $500 million program will kick off with two opportunities: the Renew America’s Schools Grant and the Energy Champions Leading the Advancement of Sustainable Schools (CLASS) Prize. The first tranche of the grant will provide up to $80 million to help schools lower utility costs, improve indoor environmental quality, and reduce carbon emissions by supporting school facility upgrades across the country. The $4.5 million CLASS Prize will support energy efficiency and indoor air quality upgrades in schools by helping districts train and staff energy management positions. Funds will focus on rural and high-poverty K-12 school districts. Learn more about the first round of funding that will be available later in 2022.

In addition, DOE's Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign, which aims to advance energy performance, reduce carbon emissions, increase resilience, and promote a healthy learning environment in schools through recognition, training, and technical assistance, launched its second round of competition. This round, the Campaign will recognize top participating schools or districts for implementing or planning activities in the following categories: 1) Energy Efficiency Plus Health and 2) Emissions Reduction and Resilience. Learn more at a Nov. 8 webinar.


EPA Awards and Requests for Input

Over the last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the award of nearly $1 billion through the Clean School Bus Program. It also announced awards totaling $30 million under Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, including over $10 million for lead remediation in schools, with additional funding for localities and their school districts expected in 2023.

On an indoor environmental quality note, a White House Summit on Indoor Air Quality on Oct. 11 featured EPA technical assistance for schools. The EPA is requesting public input into the adoption of actions that lead to improvements in indoor air quality in the nation's buildings to help mitigate disease transmission by Dec. 5. EPA is also requesting input on its new wildfire smoke preparedness grant program through Nov. 14 to

On the environmental education front, EPA has opened the application period for the 2023 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, promoting awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encouraging positive community involvement. The PIAEE recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 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 Jan. 11, 2023. 

A round-up of the administration's school infrastructure efforts can be found in this White House Fact Sheet.

School district of bayfield reseeding rice

November is Native American Heritage Month

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with 2020 ED-GRS Honoree School District of Bayfield in Bayfield, Wisconsin. Students learn in the school forest, on tribal forested land, and on the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, as well as at other local natural green spaces. Students and staff designed and developed swales and berms to collect rainwater. Annually, students build an electric vehicle and participate in the Wisconsin Electrathon competition. The Bayfield community garden includes plots for each elementary classroom to tend. Elementary teachers provide nutrition and gardening lessons, while middle and high school teachers develop weeklong courses on local environmental topics and environmental literacy. The school-owned community recreation center and swimming facility has rooftop solar panels.

Discovery Charter School invasive species removal

States’ Deadlines for Green Ribbon Schools Applicants Fast Approaching!

Many states’ application periods for 2022-23 cycle nominees to U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) will be closing around the winter holidays. These deadlines are set by states and vary. State education agencies will ultimately nominate their selections to the Department by Feb. 1, 2023.

ED-GRS is a recognition award for school sustainability that connects school built and natural environments, health, and learning. Schools, districts, postsecondary institutions, and early learning centers of all types that show progress in all three award Pillars are eligible to apply to their state education authorities. The ED-GRS Pillars are 1) reducing environmental impact and costs, 2) improving health and wellness, and 3) offering effective environmental and sustainability education.

For those schools progressing in all three of these pillars that have not previously received the ED-GRS award, now is a great time to contact your state about the 2022-2023 application cycle.  All schools can advance toward these aims by using the resources on the Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub. Interested colleges and universities may contact their state higher education authorities, while schools and districts may contact state educational agencies. If your state has not submitted nominations for this federal recognition award in the past and a specific contact is not listed on our website, contact your state schools chief. You can play a role in requesting that your state nominates this year! 

Resources and Opportunities

Project Learning Tree Logo

Volunteer To Be A Green Mentor

Project Learning Tree's Green Mentor program connects young adults with forest and conservation professionals. It involves meeting (in person or virtually) two or three hours a month. Mentees can expand their green jobs knowledge, goals, and network. Mentors can inspire the next generation of leaders, recruit employees, and gain new perspectives. Applications are due Nov. 21, 2022.

Beekeeping at Paramount Brookside Indiana

Spotlight on a Resource: The Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook

The Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook is a tool to help legislators and community leaders advance state policies that bring the benefits of time spent outdoors to more young people. It is designed to highlight existing and promising policy solutions for building healthy communities through increased youth outdoor engagement; share the knowledge and expertise of environmental education and outdoor engagement champions; and encourage connections on statewide policy initiatives across sectors, including health, education, and outdoor recreation. 

Bellingham School District Garden

ALDI Cares Community Grants

Nonprofits and schools are eligible to apply for ALDI Cares Community Grants to support children through education, arts, athletics, or addressing food insecurity locally. Grant requests can range from $100 to $5,000. Applications are due by Dec.15.


Funding to Protect Early Childhood Center Environmental Health

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has announced a new notice of funding opportunity for its APPLETREE program. Grantees may use the funds to protect children from environmental hazards at new early care and education facilities for young children. The program will fund approximately 34 state and local health departments and federally recognized American Indian/Alaska Native Tribal governments. Applications are due Dec. 9. Grantees will receive resources and guidance to assess and respond to site-specific issues involving exposure to hazardous substances in the environment.


Green Strides Design

Take Advantage of the Ongoing Green Strides Webinar Series 

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 2,900 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.)

Nov. 1, 7–8 p.m.  Sustainable Aviation at NASA Aeronautics (NASA)

Nov. 2, 2–3 p.m. Cumulative Impacts of Environmental Burden on Health (HHS)

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

Nov. 3, 1–2:15 p.m. Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Nov. 7, 6–7 p.m. Understanding Volcanic Eruptions (NASA)

Nov. 8, 1–2 p.m. Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign (DOE/LBL) 

Nov. 9, 1–2 p.m. Landfill Diversion and Why It Matters (NWF)

Nov. 9, 1–2 p.m. Cumulative Impacts of Environmental Burden on Health (HHS) 

Nov. 9, 2–3 p.m. Landscaping Certifications Explained (AASHE)

Nov. 10, 5–6 p.m. Using the Engineering Design Process with the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (NASA)

Nov. 15, 2–3:15 p.m. Inner Development Goals: A Three-part Exploration (AASHE)

Nov. 16, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Nov. 16, 1–2 p.m. Campus Race to Zero Waste 2023 Competition:  Rules and Tracking Requirements (NWF)

Nov. 16, 2–3 p.m. Roadmap to Healthy Indoor Air Quality (AASHE)

Nov. 17, 4:30–5:30 p.m. EGLE Classroom Educator Series – What’s Underground? (EGLE)

Nov. 22, 5–6 p.m. Explore the Rock Cycle (NASA)

Nov. 29, 2–3:15 p.m. Inner Development Goals: A Three-part Exploration (AASHE)

Nov. 29, 5–6 p.m. Snow and Ice – The Water Cycle (NASA)

Nov. 30, 2–3 p.m. Sustainable Procurement of Laboratory Supplies (AASHE)

Dec. 6, 11 a.m.–12 p.m. Leveraging Your Water Bills to Maximize Efficiency (DOE)

Dec. 6, 1–2:15 p.m. Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

Dec. 7, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Dec. 7, 12–1 p.m. Cumulative Impacts of Environmental Burden on Health (HHS) 

Dec. 8, 2–3:15 p.m. Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Dec. 8, 5–6 p.m. Project-based Learning – Science for a Hungry World (NASA)

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

As we wrap up the year, get to know the remaining 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. 2023 honorees will be announced in April 2023.

Patrick Henry School of Science and the Arts Yoga

Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts; Richmond, Virginia 

Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts (PHSSA) has completed major renovations, with features such as LED lighting, motion detectors, touchless sensors, efficient fixtures, interior storm windows, and water bottle filling stations, all while bringing a 100-year-old building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and preserving the value of a historic structure. PHSSA installed rain barrels to catch runoff from its modular classrooms, which is used in the butterfly garden, bayscape terrace, and victory gardens. Students design rain barrels, maintain native plantings, and test the impact of their garden filtration system on stormwater runoff. Educators use the various gardens as outdoor classrooms, and a garden committee spearheads planting every year. A compost setup teaches ecology, microbiology, and sustainable agriculture. An annual RiverRomp multisport event features running/hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, orienteering, and team building. Other athletic outlets include climbing, yoga, and Zumba. “Big Life Journals” offer emotional outlets and a “Caught Ya” program celebrates and rewards positive behaviors. As part of a project-based learning curriculum, students focus on current environmental issues and develop real-world solutions to these problems. A local grant helps to support Discovery Fridays, which get students out to the river and park system adjacent to the school to work at the intersection of science, art, and community activism. In addition to this work across traditional disciplines, all students have a weekly environmental studies class. 

Principia School early learning outdoors

Principia School; St. Louis, Missouri

Principia is a coeducational day and boarding school grounded in the teachings of Christian Science and serving children from infancy through grade 12. Principia’s most recent strategic plan identifies sustainability as a goal “through innovative and active stewardship of its human, ecological, and financial resources.” Principia has restored 42 acres of forest and 6 acres of savanna on the school’s 360-acre campus. Grounds also feature produce gardens, chicken coops, beehives, nature playscapes, a permaculture orchard, rain gardens, ponds, and native plantings. The school purchases renewable energy, benchmarks utility reduction efforts in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, incorporates LED lighting and occupancy sensors, participates in a demand response program, and composts. Teachers utilize outdoor resources as authentic learning opportunities in science, language arts, social studies, and math. Students test water quality and soil, re-enact scenes from literature, engage in BioBlitzes, identify trees, gather weather data, turtle track, study macroinvertebrates, tag butterflies, and garden. The Impact Challenge is a schoolwide project in which students at all grade levels choose one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and work to effect change through specific group projects. Principia offers elective courses in field and natural history and in sustainability. After-school sports include gardening and Eco PE, the latter of which involves stewardship projects and using and maintaining the campus’ challenge course. The upper school dedicates a week annually to sending its ninth- to 11th-grade students to different parts of the country to partake in Outward Bound wilderness trips. The cafeteria celebrates meatless Mondays. 

Altamont Creek ES

Altamont Creek Elementary School; Livermore, California 

In 2015, Altamont Creek Elementary School (ACES) established an initial five-year Sustainability Plan, which provided a framework for addressing energy, solid waste, carbon emissions, water usage, transportation, and the health and safety of staff. The on-site photovoltaic system generates 95% of the school’s annual kWh usage. The balance of the school’s electrical energy comes from the local utility’s renewable choice option. In 2017, ACES developed a model solid waste school program in partnership with the local waste management authority and state grant funding to reduce waste, featuring share tables, waste audits, composting, and local food pantry donations. ACES offers a Safe Routes to School bike rodeo, a bike repair event, and walk and roll to school days, with 70% of students walking or rolling to school daily. ACES established an “Idle Free” zone that applies to all vehicles that come onto the school grounds and switched to all Eco-Logo-certified green cleaning products. Outdoor learning spaces now include a 2,900-square-foot main garden, a certified National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat, a bay-friendly garden, and an Audubon bird habitat. A “Bird Cam” allows students to view bird feeders and the garden from inside the classroom. Students engage in health, place-based environmental science, and nutrition education activities in the school’s garden. All staff meetings provide training in mind and body techniques used to release stress and strengthen mindfulness. ACES pilots the Project Lead the Way engineering program for elementary students. They apply STEAM strategies to develop an understanding of environmental topics, such as sun safety, waste management, native plants, and renewable energy. Beyond campus, students visit East Bay Regional Parks, Oakland Zoo, and Altamont Creek. They also participate in coastal cleanups and outdoor science school. 


Green Schools Conference Logo Square

Attend the Green Schools Conference

The Green Schools Conference will be held Feb. 27-March 1, 2023, at the Sheraton New Orleans. This event brings 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 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 that include environmental impact, health and well-being, sustainability literacy, equity, and whole school sustainability. The conference will also be an opportunity to connect with representatives of ED-GRS!  Early bird rates end Jan. 13.

Better Buildings Logo

Mark Your Calendars: Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit

DOE's next Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit will be April 11-13, 2023 in Washington, D.C. This event will feature engaging and interactive sessions, as well as opportunities for attendees to network with their fellow industry peers and experts. Registration details are coming soon. 

Sustainability at the U.S. Department of Education

ED Seal

ED Has Pillar I Achievements Too!

In alignment with Pillar one of the ED-GRS recognition award and numerous federal initiatives, ED is also working to reduce its own environmental impact and costs. With this aim, ED recycled 123,740 pounds of scrap metal and light iron during its Potomac Center Plaza 9th floor office space decommissioning in June. ED also strengthened relationships in the Washington, DC community by providing office furniture from the decommissioning free of charge to the DC Police Department and other local and federal agencies. To meet the sustainability goals of Executive Orders such as 14057 and 14008, ED reduced the footprint of the Department by 38,000 sq. ft. during the month of September alone.

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Connect with Green Strides: @EDGreenRibbon on Twitter and @EDGreenRibbonSchools on Facebook.

Connect With Green Strides

Green Strides: Resources for School Facilities, Health, and Environment
U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools
Facebook: @EDGreenRibbonSchools
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