Welcoming Baby Green Ribbon….Sustainably
Over the past four years, I had the task of gradually breathing life into our U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS). At the same time, participating stakeholders, feds, states, districts, and schools have taught me about sustainable schools — and sustainable living. Welcoming the other “Baby Green Ribbon” turned out to be a lesson in living in accordance with the Pillars of our award and it was only natural that I implement them as I prepared for his arrival. Read more about welcoming “Baby Green Ribbon” and living and working sustainably. >>>>
The Green Strides Tour will be back in 2016. Here’s a glimpse of the 2014 tour in Colorado at Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School in Fort Collins. >>>>
States Solicit U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Applications
Participating state education authorities have launched 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) competitions with deadlines to submit to them in the winter. For applications, interested colleges and universities should contact their state higher education authorities, while schools and districts should contact their state education agencies. Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions are only eligible if nominated by state authorities. State education authorities’ participation is voluntary. Hearing from interested applicants can be helpful to those states considering participation. State education authorities can find updated criteria and other state implementation guidance on our website and should contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.
Meet More of the 2015 Honorees
As the examples below indicate, U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees are demonstrating innovative practices for all to follow:
El Monte Union High School District, California
In El Monte Union High School District (EMUHSD) collaborative relationships enable students to explore career options related to the environment and prepare them for participation in a sustainable society. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coordinates health and wellness policy and activities, while Caltrans introduces students to civil engineering careers related to wildlife conservation. Los Angeles County regional parks allow opportunities for biking and nature study, and the local municipal water district sponsors solar boat project lessons. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brings lessons in water quality testing, and the city coordinates Safe Routes to School. The Office of Naval Research contributes SeaPerch, underwater robotics for sustainable deep-sea engineering. The district has successfully implemented USDA’s Rethink Your Drink and My Plate campaigns; and water-wise gardening with the help of the City of Rosemead and Gabrieleno Tongva Indians. Cenergistic has helped change energy behaviors, generate cost savings, and reduce the district’s carbon footprint. Southern California Edison organizes a solar roofing project, and Vons Credit Union, Edison International, and GRID Alternatives sponsor student projects to install solar panels on low-income family homes. Hewlett Packard enables practical math and science experiences for students with an alternative energy greenhouse grant, while Pureology’s Green Champion prize allows a campus to build a greener future. BP sponsors student wind-turbine designs and Lowes collaborates on community murals. With State Farm, students relate lessons in history and earth science to earthquake preparedness in low-income communities. The district received a $135,000 grant from Wal-Mart and the American Association for School Administrators for alternative breakfast. With Eco-Schools USA, EMUHSD is steadily replacing water-intensive landscaping with xeriscaping, with an emphasis on pollinator plants. Occidental College’s farm to school program increases student exposure to fresh produce, and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona provides STEM mentors for solar boat and wildlife crossing structures projects, as well as professional development for teachers. Similarly, Rio Hondo College provides STEM mentors for a green zoo construction project. >>>>
As part of an exploration of local watershed, Arroyo High School students visit the Aquarium of the Pacific to complete dissolved oxygen labs.
Charles F. Patton Middle School, Kennett Square, Penn.
Patton has installed HVAC systems with air changes, automatic temperature controls, solar arrays that power a greenhouse, low-flow toilets and faucets, and a drip line irrigation system.To improve the health of students and staff, Patton uses green cleaning products, reduces hazardous waste, and implements Integrated Pest Management.Patton supports local farmers by purchasing locally grown produce, harvesting and using vegetables from school gardens, and participating in healthy taste tests.Grounds include 30 raised beds, a greenhouse, wildlife and native plant habitats, a solar array, composting, pervious trails, protected wetlands, and plantings by a local farmer.Two outdoor classrooms provide space for learning in a natural environment. Science classes go outside regularly to explore nature, conduct experiments, learn about the growing process, water, and harvest.Orienteering classes teach students how to use a compass and calculate distance, as well as how to find an object using coordinates.Patton implements a bee and garden curriculum, and teaches students about renewable and alternative energies, as well as water conservation and quality.Students calculate their ecological footprints and the effect of human activity. They investigate the impact and develop problem-solving solutions to local and global issues.Eighth graders choose an environmental project for the school or their community.Field trips to sites such as Stroud Water Research Center teach students about water conservation and local streams and rivers.Teachers participate in professional development opportunities addressing standards associated with the environment, energy, and ecology standards. >>>>
At Patton Middle School, students build garden beds, fill them with newspaper and soil, plant the seeds or seedlings, and harvest. In the summer, the Adopt-A-Bed program keeps the gardens thriving with help from the community members who water, weed, harvest, and deliver produce to a local food bank and homeless shelter.
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
The University of Virginia (UVA) campus includes some 39 LEED registered or certified constructions.As a partner in the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, UVA is committed to reducing building energy use 20 percent by 2020.The school reduced total water consumption by more than 32 percent since the 1999 peak, despite increases in square footage and population.The university participates in the Keep America Beautiful Recycle Mania.In the school’s dining halls, reusable to-go container programs provide zero-waste alternatives to compostable to-go containers; and a reusable punch-card incentive program offers benefits like free coffee and meals to those who use a reusable mug, bag, or to-go container. UVA Dining, which seeks to provide local, organic, humanely raised, and fairly traded food options for students, has achieved Marine Stewardship Council certification.Composting has diverted over 600 tons of organic matter from landfills to date.During the 2014 football season, UVA launched a pilot zero-waste program in the football stadium, yielding over 15,000 pounds of compost, and an 80 percent diversion rate from the stadium’s suites.UVA achieved Green Seal GS-42 certification, becoming the first university in Virginia and the third in the country to attain this level of certification for its green cleaning program.The Global Studies-Environments+Sustainability Major allows students to address problemsassociated with human transformations of the earth through the triple lens of environment, equity, and economy.The Global Sustainability Minor allows students to understand the many facets of sustainability and apply this knowledge to their daily lives.UVA’s interdisciplinary Department of Environmental Sciences offers courses of study that help students to learn more about global sustainability issues and technology’s potential to address global challenges.The Committee on Sustainability includes faculty, student, and staff members dedicated to fostering and building sustainability across the grounds. >>>>
On World Water Day 2014, University of Virginia students raise water conservation awareness.
The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues Through Back to School Season
The Green Strides Webinar Series promotes sessions offered by federal agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide free tools to reduce schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education. Check out the webinar calendar and submit suggestions of webinars on school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may promote them.