The U.S. Department of Education has announced a new competition for environmentally-friendly schools.
The new program, called Green Ribbon Schools, will honor schools that promote environmental literacy, reduce environmental impacts and reduce operating expenses through green initiatives.
It will be up to state and federal-level education officials to nominate schools. From my understanding, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction could nominate up to 4 Washington schools.
Schools will be judged based on their commitments to three “Green Ribbon Schools Pillars and Elements.”
- environmental impact and energy efficiency
- healthy school environments
- environmental and sustainability education
In Whatcom County, many schools already have green initiatives. Examples include food-to-flowers composting in cafeterias, paper and plastic recycling programs, environmentally-focused service-learning, school gardens and more. Plus a few districts are taking part in energy-efficiency programs, with electricity usage specifically dropping over the past few years.
Nominations are due to the U.S. Department of Education in March. National winners will be announced in May. Details have not been released about how schools can seek nomination by state officials.
For more information, visit the program website.
The press release about the program is below the jump.
U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Program Open for Public Comment
Campaign for Environmental Literacy, Earth Day Network, National Wildlife Federation and the U.S. Green Building Council applauds Department of Education for this initiative, encourages schools to participate
Washington, D.C. (Sept. 30, 2011) – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today that the Department of Education has finalized the criteria for the Green Ribbon Schools program, and is inviting schools to participate in this landmark initiative. Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, the program will recognize schools where students, teachers and faculty have worked together to promote environmental literacy and reduce operating costs through sustainable measures.
According to the Department, the award will recognize schools that save energy, reduce costs, feature environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protect health, foster wellness and offer environmental education to boost academic achievement and community engagement.
The effort to get the Green Ribbon program adopted by the Department and working in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, has been strongly supported by the Campaign for Environmental Literacy (CEL), alongside Earth Day Network, the National Wildlife Federation and the U.S. Green Building Council. These organizations, along with the greater NGO community, applaud the Department of Education for the speed and efficiency with which it was able to develop and launch this program, and commend Secretary Duncan and all parties involved for making green schools a national priority.
“The launch of the U.S. Green Ribbon Schools program is another acknowledgment that schools can go green and save money at the same time,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Along with National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program, and others like it, schools can make their campuses more sustainable, provide a learning laboratory for students and save taxpayer dollars spent on school energy bills.”
As part of the program, the Department aims to share best practices regarding cost-effective, healthy and sustainable learning spaces among Federal agencies, state and local government and the general public.
Jim Elder, director of the Campaign for Environmental Literacy, said: “This is a great milestone in the young history of the green schools movement. I am especially delighted that, through the Green Ribbon Schools award, the Department of Education has set a clear expectation: every student who graduates from a green school should be environmentally literate.”
Green Ribbon Schools is the first comprehensive and coordinated federal initiative to focus on the intersection of environment, health and education. Unlike other environment-focused programs in the Federal arena, the award acknowledges the work of schools that have reached the highest levels of achievement.
“The Green Ribbon Schools program represents a landmark collaboration between federal agencies to advance the green schools movement,” says Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. “We commend the Department of Education for creating a recognition award that will help our schools save money and improve learning conditions, all while prioritizing the health and well-being of our children. We are confident this program will help put every child in a green school in this generation.”
“The Green Ribbon Schools program represents an incredible milestone for the health and sustainability of our nation’s schools, and we applaud the Department of Education’s visionary leadership in building one of the foundations of the green economy,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “We look forward to the announcement of the first winners of the Green Ribbon Schools program on Earth Day 2012.”
For more information on the program, please visit: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools/index.html
To watch Secretary Arne Duncan announce Green Ribbon Schools, please visit: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2011/09/final-plans-announced-for-green-ribbon-schools/
About Campaign for Environmental Literacy
The Campaign for Environmental Literacy (CEL) is a network of national education and environmental organizations that work to engage the federal government in helping to close the nation’s growing environmental literacy gap. CEL has led successful efforts with its lead partners (National Wildlife Federation, Second Nature, Earth Day Network, and U.S. Green Building Council) to restore and grow environmental education funding; authorize the University Sustainability Program at the Department of Education; and introduce the Ocean, Coastal, and Watershed Education Act and the No Child Left Inside Act.
About Earth Day Network
Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network mobilizes over one billion people worldwide year-round with over 25,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement, through advocacy, education, public policy and consumer campaigns. More than one billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
About National Wildlife Federation
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is America’s largest conservation organization, inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. Over the past 15 years, NWF education programs have helped over 4,000 schools to become greener through NWF’s Certified Schoolyard Habitats program and Eco-Schools USA. NWF is the sole U.S. host for the international Eco-Schools program, the largest green school program globally, that is now in 51 nations, reaching 38,000 K-12 schools and over 11 million students. NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program launched in November 2009 and is one of America’s largest green school programs, currently reaching over 480 schools in 42 states, in an effort to green school buildings, grounds, curricula, and student experiences.
About the U.S. Green Building Council
The U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. With a community comprising 79 local affiliates, nearly 16,000 member organizations, and more than 167,000 LEED Professional Credential holders, USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to contribute $554 billion to the U.S. GDP from 2009-2013. USGBC leads an unlikely diverse constituency of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students. For more information, visit www.usgbc.org, on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.