Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today invited states to take part in the inaugural year of the Green Ribbon Schools program, which will recognize schools for reducing environmental impact on their communities, promoting healthy school environments for their own students and staff, and offering high-quality environmental education.
The program was developed by the Education Department with support and advice from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
The award aims to encourage energy and resource conservation measures that can lead to cost savings and job creation; environmental and behavioral changes to promote health and productivity among students, staff and other occupants; and the use of environmental and sustainability education to support students' preparedness for some of the nation's fastest growing employment sectors.
In a video message featured on the Department of Education's blog, Duncan said, "Our goal is to encourage all of our nation's schools and communities to work towards a future where school facilities have no adverse environmental impact, have a positive effect on students' health, and enable students to become environmentally literate citizens who are well prepared for the 21st century economy."
Duncan's announcement included details on the program's eligibility requirements and nominating process. State education authorities will nominate schools based on their success in promoting healthy and sustainable environments and conducting environmental education. Nominated schools will also need to be in compliance with federal civil rights and federal, state and local health, safety and environmental statutory and regulatory requirements.
Duncan urged state and local school officials to review the various documents made available online today so that they might "get started right now in identifying their best candidates for the Green Ribbon award" for the first (pilot) year of program.
"Green Ribbon award guidelines focus on steps that will make our Nation's schools healthier and more sustainable," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Quality. "This program will help to ensure that our students are equipped to meet 21st century demands and learn in an environment that is second to none."
"With as much time as our children spend in school over the years, it makes sense for us to do everything we can to protect their health, encourage wellness, and make sure they are getting the most productivity out of their hours in the classroom. Green Ribbon Schools will help foster the changes needed to protect and support our students, teachers and school staff, and brighten their future in the process," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
The Department plans to provide a nominee submission deadline in early 2012 and announce the first Green Ribbon Schools before the end of the 2011-2012 school year.
More information on Green Ribbon Schools can be found at http://www.ed.gov/blog/2011/09/final-plans-announced-for-green-ribbon-schools/. Individuals can sign up for Green Ribbon Schools updates at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USED/subscriber/new?topic_id=USED_27 and follow Green Ribbon Schools on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/EDGreenRibbonSchools. Additional questions can be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.