Green Schools

Department of Education Honors Green Ribbon Schools

The U.S. Department of Education recently honored 35 schools, 14 districts and four post-secondary institutions for their focus on the environment. The Green Ribbon Schools distinction recognizes schools, districts and higher education institutions that strive for excellence in all of the following three areas, known as pillars:

  • reducing environmental impact and costs;
  • improving the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff;
  • and providing effective environmental and sustainability education.

Each year, state education officials nominate top schools and districts based on the three pillars. About 30 states voluntarily nominate candidates for the award every year while 20 state education agencies have not participated. The award recipients were recognized on Sept. 25 in Washington, D.C.

A few K-12 school recipients include:

Dutch Fork Elementary (South Carolina) — The school has improved water conservation by using rain barrels that collect water for the school’s gardens. The school disconnected hot water in bathrooms to save on energy costs, switched to LED lights and implemented a food waste and compost program to divert waste from landfills.

Robert W. Gadsden Elementary School (Georgia) — The school has one of the lowest utility costs per square foot in the district at 76 cents. It also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 38 percent. They’ve incorporated energy-management performance guidelines and automated temperature-control systems; the integration of occupancy sensors; the scheduled replacement of conventional lighting with LED; the development of efficient student transportation; and the introduction of recycling.

Brookstown Middle School (Louisiana) — Brookstown replaced an 80-percent-efficient atmospheric boiler with a 95-percent-efficient high-efficiency condensing boiler. T8 lightbulbs are used in all classrooms. Air conditioning and heating is turned off after school and during all weekends and holidays. The school has reduced energy consumption by 29 percent in the past three years and has reduced water consumption by 14 percent over three years.

Ipswich Middle-High School (Massachusetts) — IMHS is heated by a boiler fueled by natural gas which also heats the hot water for the facility. Only 30 percent of the building is air-conditioned and all the classrooms can open windows. A new air-conditioning system was installed in 2016 and boasts a 90 percent efficiency rate. The months of October and May are “zero energy months” when the building does not use heat or air conditioning.

For the complete list of recipients and to read more about each of these facilities, click here. Resources for environment-conscience schools can be found here.

About the Author

Yvonne Marquez is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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