Part of preparing students for success in the twenty-first century is making sure they are good stewards of the environment. U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools began in order to recognize schools, districts, and institutions of higher education that reduce environmental impact and costs, improve health and wellness, and teach sustainability literacy. Today, the 2015 cohort of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) was recognized at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, DC, where honorees received sustainably crafted plaques and flags. Honorees then attended a celebration hosted by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council and Senator Patty Murray’s Office, where they met their Congressional representatives, and some also participated in tours offered by the National Park Service and Department of Energy.
Secretary Duncan addressed attendees accompanied by Managing Director of the White House Council for Environmental Quality Christy Goldfuss and NOAA Director of Education Louisa Koch. He congratulated the honorees by highlighting their “common sense ways to invest more in education rather than utility bills, improve health and attendance and, and excite students about real-world learning.”
As part of the ceremony, Secretary Duncan announced the re-launch of Green Strides, a new user-friendly site that serves as a one-stop shop for the resources that all schools can use to save money, improve health, and engage their students with authentic sustainability learning. The new site is thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. The Green Strides site features a calendar of webinars offered by a host of non-profit and federal collaborators explaining the use of these resources. The site showcases the cohorts of honorees – schools, districts, and the most recent postsecondary additions–in a searchable map to facilitate their promising practices’ replication nationwide.
To learn more about this year’s U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees, visit our website and annual Highlights Report. You may also subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. In the upcoming 2015-2016 awards cycle, state education authorities are once again invited to nominate green schools, districts, colleges, and universities by February 1st, 2016 and to encourage all schools to make use of these money-saving, health- and achievement-enhancing environmentally sustainable practices.
Andrea Suarez Falken is Director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and ED’s Facilities, Health, and Environment Liaison.