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Posts Tagged ‘Green Schools’

Connect the Dots Green Schools Challenge

The K–12 school is a great example of how the Connect the Dots program inspires achievements in sustainability.

USGBC’s Connect the Dots program challenges K–12 schools across the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia regions to develop and implement the most creative, effective, no- or low-cost sustainable practices for their schools. Participating schools target projects that aim to lower operating maintenance costs, improve indoor air quality, conserve natural resources and more.

Schools are matched with volunteer mentors from the building and design industry to guide project implementation and development. Projects are also registered as part of USGBC’s annual Green Apple Day of Service campaign to contribute to the global impact of increasing sustainability in schools.

Registration for both schools and volunteer mentors for the 2017–2018 program is open through October 13.

Each spring, the schools that most effectively meet this challenge are recognized for their achievements at a ceremony around the time of Earth Day. In 2016, the Agnor-Hurt Elementary School in Charlottesville, Virginia, was given the Honor Award for their comprehensive approach to promoting sustainability. The school constructed its own learning gardens, using the vegetables and herbs in cooking classes to promote healthy eating. To engage the whole community in this effort, the school organized a Healthy Living Night for students and parents.

The Albermarle County School District in which Agnor-Hurt Elementary is located has also been a past recipient of USGBC’s School District Scholarship program and is currently part of a small cohort of school districts using the Arc platform to benchmark, track and take action on sustainability metrics at each school. Energy, water, waste and other data can be collected by students through hands-on auditing activities and then incorporated into STEM curriculum for ongoing engagement and action. The data is also used by school personnel to make informed decisions about school improvements.

The 2016–2017 Connect the Dots School Champions at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School were Adam Mohr, Courtney Wood, Brittany Mullinex, Marci McKenzie, Michael Thornton and Drew Craft, and their volunteer mentor was Tish Tablan, a national organizer with Generation 180.

After participating in the program, Mohr, who was also Agnor-Hurt’s multiage team leader/teacher for grades 1–3, commented, “This was a fabulous opportunity for our school and existing garden-to-table project. It helped us reflect on what successes we have had thus far, and what we still need to improve upon moving forward. Other schools should take part in this important challenge, so we can all benefit from each other’s work and share ideas.”

State lawmakers plan legislation in support of green schools..

Legislators gathered at a green school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the Center for Green Schools.

Early in August, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators hosted their annual meeting in Boston, where state lawmakers discuss the most pressing issues in environmental policy and make commitments for their coming legislative sessions. Each year at the caucus meeting, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC holds a workshop to review the latest in green schools research and policy and make an action plan.

A dozen legislators from around the country joined us in a morning tour of the beautiful Martin Luther King, Jr. School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was recently built with aspirations of net zero energy and seeks to achieve LEED Platinum. Visitors met with the architects from Perkins Eastman, the former mayor of Cambridge and city energy staff to learn about the policy landscape and motivations behind the green school. They also learned more about the school’s features—including an extensive learning garden, lesson-friendly mechanical room, and an indoor/outdoor gym.

National Caucus of Environmental Legislators tour Boston school

That afternoon, the group was joined by around 30 additional lawmakers for a workshop to review current research and recent legislation on four topics:

  • School infrastructure financing and management: The group discussed recommendations for local, state and federal action from a 60-person working group of national experts on school financing and management, including implications for state-level policy making to give school districts what they need to operate healthy and efficient buildings.
  • Energy efficiency in existing schools: A soon-to-be-released policy overview from the Center for Green Schools was reviewed. The overview covers state laws in eight states that provide funding mechanisms for energy efficiency projects in existing schools.
  • Benchmarking: The group examined current best practices for benchmarking energy, water and other sustainability metrics on the local and state level, including examples of existing state-level and local policies.
  • Green infrastructure: A preview was given to a forthcoming study that builds on the 2016 Achieving Urban Resilience, as well as policy implications for more sustainable land and infrastructure management. New research on the sustainability and health opportunities of so-called “smart surfaces” was also addressed.

Each year, the Center for Green Schools follows up with state legislators to ensure they have the resources they need to advance their priorities on green schools and green buildings. View our menu of options for state legislators, and pick out what you think is most important to take to your elected officials.

After many years of working with legislators, we have learned that your voice, as a constituent, is the one they value most.

U.S. Department of Education announces 2017 Green Ribbon Schools honorees

Published on 4 May 2017 Written by Anisa Heming Posted in Center for Green Schools

The recipients of the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools share a deep commitment to sustainable practices.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the recipients of the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), an awards program that acknowledges a deep commitment to sustainable practices among the nation’s leading schools, districts and institutions of higher education.

A total of 63 honorees—including 45 schools, nine post-secondary institutions and nine school districts—received the prestigious award for their demonstrated leadership across three pillars: 1) reduced environmental impact and costs, 2) improved health and wellness and 3) effective environmental and sustainability education. Now in its sixth year, the program has honored 340 schools, 56 districts and 34 postsecondary institutions.

As part of this significant recognition program within the green schools movement, recipients of this year’s award model best practices for educating and inspiring the next generation of 21st century citizens. Showing the breadth of the green schools movement, 44 percent of this year’s awardees serve under-resourced communities, and 14 percent are located in rural areas. Charter, non-public and magnet schools are included, as well as career, technical and community colleges.

Each participating state in this voluntary program is allowed to nominate up to four schools and one district that demonstrate a comprehensive approach to sustainability. This year’s pool of candidates were nominated and reviewed by 29 state education authority implementation teams, including 28 states and the Department of Defense Education Activity.

The green schools movement has grown broader and deeper since 2011, when key advocates, including USGBC’s Center for Green Schools, steered some 80 national and state-based nonprofits to request that the U.S. Department of Education honor schools for their sustainability efforts and contributions. During the development of ED-GRS, USGBC advocated to ensure that the criteria provided an accessible pathway for all schools to strive toward the three pillars, so that large urban schools, small rural schools and every school population in between could have a fair chance at recognition.

Honorees both past and present prove that any school, district or post-secondary institution can take steps to improve the sustainability, health and safety of school facilities; ensure nutrition and fitness practices for a lifetime of wellness and productivity; and engage students in authentic, real-world learning that prepares them to lead a sustainable future.

USGBC commends the winning schools for their success, as well as the U.S. Department of Education for its innovative program that, without spending any new taxpayer money, has continued to provide a crucial focal point in the movement for healthy, high-performing schools.

 

Green Schools Conference and Expo Comes to Atlanta

Published on 2 Mar 2017 Written by Rachel Gilbert Posted in Media

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Dr. Antwi Akom and Dr. Elizabeth Kiss to speak at conference that brings together sustainability advocates, education leaders, parents to transform nation’s schools

Washington, D.C.—(March 1, 2017)—The Green Schools Conference and Expo (GSCE), presented by the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, and produced in partnership with the Green Schools National Network, is coming to Atlanta, Georgia, March 21–22, 2017, at the Westin Peachtree Plaza, located at 210 Peachtree Street NW.

The conference, designed to bring together teachers, parents, students, school and district staff, educational leaders, building industry professionals and nonprofit partners, is the premier education and engagement opportunity for those who are passionate about the future of green schools throughout the country and around the world. During the two-day conference, advocates will come together to make measurable and lasting progress toward the three pillars of green schools: environmental impact, health impact and environmental and sustainability literacy.

Making progress in sustainability (USGBC Greater Virginia)

Published on 22 Dec 2016 Written by JOHN BEST Posted in Community

 In 2017, USGBC Greater Virginia will continue to advocate for green building and climate action.

Many green building professionals and advocates are feeling uncertainty about legislative and political accomplishments at the national level, such as the Clean Power Plan and the recently signed Paris Agreement. At USGBC Greater Virginia, we wanted to emphasize that we will continue making progress in sustainability.

Even in the face of past political roadblocks, we have always managed to make great strides in high-performance buildings and sustainable communities. Most of this progress has happened at the local level, not national, and has been led by individuals, businesses, community leaders, schools and organizations like USGBC. Furthermore, the economic arguments in favor of sustainability continue to grow stronger as technology improves and prices decrease with scale.

USGBC Greater Virginia’s commitment to resilient, safe, efficient and green communities is more determined than ever, and we know that your commitment is similarly unwavering as you work tirelessly to promote high-performing buildings and sustainable solutions in Virginia.

 Learn and educate 

Our educational initiatives are going strong this year in Virginia. Upcoming events include topics as diverse as LED lighting technology seminars, LEED v4 training, and tours of high-performance facilities. We will continue to offer education luncheons and seminars to keep you up to speed on new technologies and sustainable initiatives.

 Be an advocate 

USGBC Greater Virginia is actively advocating for programs and legislation that promote green building in the Commonwealth.  We’ll keep you posted on all opportunities to influence local leaders in a smart direction.

 Serve your communities 

USGBC offers lots of ways to directly serve your community. For instance, our Connect the Dots Green Schools Challenge calls on schools across Virginia to develop and implement the most creative, effective, no- or low-cost sustainable practices for their schools and communities. Participation this year is already up significantly from 2015.

 Be collaborative

We recognize that we cannot make real environmental impact alone, and we partner with many organizations. For example, our ADVANCE initiative in Southwest Virginia allows us to partner with local small businesses to identify energy-saving opportunities that also benefit their bottom line. Our community has long been a champion for energy efficiency, climate action and environmental protection throughout the built environment. In 2017, we will be exploring new partnerships and strategies to promote sustainability in our region and continue to further healthy building for all of our Virginia residents.

Written by JOHN BEST

Albemarle County Public Schools awarded a School District Scholarship (USGBC Greater Virginia)

Albemarle County Public Schools awarded a School District Scholarship (USGBC Greater Virginia)

Published on 11 Oct 2016 Written by Carrie Webster Posted in Center for Green Schools

Albemarle County Public Schools has received a School District Scholarship from the Center for Green Schools.

Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) has recently been awarded a School District Scholarship from the Center for Green Schools™ at USGBC®. The scholarship includes travel and attendance for school representatives to the Greenbuild Conference and Expo in 2016 and the Green Schools Conference in 2017. It also includes access to exclusive USGBC training opportunities and resources, as well as financial assistance with a high-impact sustainability project of the district’s choice.

ACPS was awarded the scholarship based on the impressive list of environmental initiatives that the school system has already implemented over the past 10 years, championed by Lindsay Snoddy, the ACPS Assistant Director of Environmental, Health, and Safety.

Energy and sustainability successes at ACPS have included

  • Earning the Energy Star label for 21 schools.
  • Conducting plumbing fixture audits in partnership with University of Virginia to identify and implement water-saving upgrades.
  • District-wide green cleaning and integrated pest management policies.
  • Composting programs in many schools.
  • Rigorous recycling programs that go beyond standard curbside items to encompass such items as electronic waste, batteries, fluorescent bulbs and construction and demolition debris.

In 2012, a Renewable Energy Resource Center was constructed at Henley Middle School with grant funds. The center includes a solar array, a wind turbine and a solar thermal system.

In addition, ACPS recently became the first school system in Virginia to install 1 megawatt of solar photovoltaic cells under the solar power purchase agreement in Dominion Power’s territory. Projects still in the works include upgrading all classroom lighting to LEDs to save energy and improve the learning environment.

Written by Carrie Webster

Growing minds with Green Apple Day of Service 2016

Published on 8 Aug 2016 Written by Amanda Sawit Posted in Center for Green Schools

 Green Apple Day of Service is a chance to teach sustainability in a fun way.

On Green Apple Day of Service, you can make an impact right inside the classroom. Advancing a culture of sustainability within schools means ensuring that students of all ages can acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors that prepare them to lead and succeed in green 21st century careers.

Join us for Green Apple Day of Service 2016 and together, we’ll plant the seeds of wonder, understanding and stewardship for a more sustainable future. Here are some ideas and resources to get you started! 

Learning Lab

USGBC’s Learning Lab has fantastic online resources to help K–12 educators and their students easily implement Green Apple projects. More than 300 project-based lessons in English and Spanish just sign up for your account, and enjoy the easy-to-follow, sustainability-infused curriculum on Learning Lab.

Fun Food Connections

You can plant a school vegetable garden to help students understand where food comes from, or engage students in preparing fresh meals or snacks that they can enjoy on the spot. Food is a great way to connect with a wide audience and talk about sustainability issues spanning topics such as social justice, economics, agriculture, operations and health. Remember to track your efforts in increased servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains eaten by students or in decreased grams of sugars served or consumed on campus.

Dynamic Visuals

Signs and murals allow a school to show its commitment to healthy and sustainable learning environments. Great signage can teach students and the rest of the community about the green (or could-be-greener) features of classrooms, bathrooms, cafeterias and hallways. A mural is a large-scale way to remind visitors and the school community about the school’s values. Students can lend their creativity to the effort, and it’s a great way to bring the arts into your sustainability efforts.

And don’t forget to measure your impact! Keep track of the number of minutes allocated to environmental and sustainability concepts in class, or engage students through written work, art projects or even a fun post-event survey.

USGBC

Green Apple Day of Service 2016

Published on 11 Jul 2016Written by Amanda Sawit Posted in Center for Green Schools

This year’s Green Apple Day is Sept. 24. Help us make an impact on schools worldwide!

Join us on Sept. 24 for the 2016 Green Apple Day of Service, and help make an impact on schools worldwide.

All over the world, communities are coming together to improve local schools, making an impact on the environment, supporting health and wellness and advancing environmental and sustainability literacy. School may have just gotten out for the summer, but the time is right to start a Green Apple Day event near you.

Getting involved is easy.

Visit greenapple.org for ideas and resources, and sign up to host an event in your community. 

We make a difference together.

Since 2012, an astounding 12,660 projects have taken place under the Green Apple Day of Service banner. More than 750,000 volunteers have affected the learning environments of 7 million students in all 50 U.S. states, as well as 73 countries.

Have a story about your involvement? We want to hear it!

This year, we’re keeping the momentum going strong and spotlighting the amazing commitments made between now and Sept. 24. Follow the Center for Green Schools on FacebookTwitter and Instagramto share your stories, or email the Center. We’ll be sharing stories and photos in the weeks to come.

We know that the school environment has a direct impact on students, teachers and staff, but unfortunately, many schools today face obstacles to promoting health and wellness in their facilities. According to the recent State of Our Schools: America’s K–12 Facilities report, the U.S. faces a projected annual shortfall of $46 billion in school funding to adequately maintain or build new schools that are healthy and efficient. The Green Apple Day of Service is your opportunity to directly address these challenges.

Together, we can transform our schools into healthy, vibrant places to learn, work and play while teaching valuable lessons about the environment and cultivating the world’s next generation of sustainability leaders.

Amanda Sawit

Content Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

The complex world of school cafeteria food donation

Published on 3 May 2016Written by Nancy Deming, Oakland Unified School District Sustainability Manager Posted in Center for Green Schools

Cafeteria food going unused

Anyone who spends time in K–12 school cafeterias with high participation in the federal meal program witnesses the volume of edible food that goes to waste. It goes well beyond the fruit peelings, the pizza or sandwich crust, or even the half-drunk milk that students toss. Food waste in cafeterias includes whole untouched fruit, bags of baby carrots, unopened packaged entrees, and cartons and cartons of unopened milk. For schools that are able to do scratch cooking, there are inevitably fruits and milk that go to waste. But the waste is greatest in cafeterias that are dependent on providing packaged items.

Witnessing this tossing of good food on a daily basis is overwhelming, pushing well-meaning people in schools to do something about it, such as a coach at one middle school in Los Angeles County. He collected the fruit that students did not want during lunch and gave it out to hungry students later in the day. News reports say he was fired for this and that it violated legal and public health rules. Yes, he was in the wrong for collecting and distributing food surplus in this manner. However, the piece that these initial news reports missed was how schools might legally be able to keep this surplus food from going to the landfill or compost.

What’s involved in donation?

The Good Samaritan Act and the USDA Lunch Act allow and encourage schools to donate surplus food. Great, so let’s donate! Sounds relatively easy, and how difficult can it be, especially since we have complained about it for so long? Unfortunately, since the regulations are new, uncharted territory, the details are not fully formulated yet. There are different perspectives on the what and how of implementation, not to mention many different entities lending their opinions. The USDA provides the general framework for food donation. Then, the state education departments and counties’ public health departments make their final statements about what they determine to be legal. And, finally, school districts must then compile and understand all the details for themselves.

Luckily, we have some passionate and driven folks that are working to make it easier to donate school food on local and national levels. Our model state right now is Indiana, thanks to the tireless work of Food Rescue, where they have passed state legislation detailing how to donate and what is allowed to be donated.

Next steps

In the case of the coach from Los Angeles County who was trying to donate food to students, the details are not public. But his experience in his school’s cafeteria, witnessing with frustration good food was being wasted, is common and relatable. All of us—and our schools, school districts, counties, states and federal governments—have the responsibility to develop solutions so that good, edible food fills bellies and not the landfill. The effort is worth the end results, so take the time to become familiar with the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and the National School Lunch Act.

Check to see what your county environmental health department and state have documented on school food donation.

USGBC

Announcing the 2016 Education Ministerial for Sustainability

Published on 22 Apr 2016 Written by Rachel Gutter Posted in Center for Green Schools

The mission to put every child in a green school within this generation is one that drives the Center for Green Schools team and a dedicated network of tens of thousands of advocates around the globe to work hard on a daily basis. In many ways, Earth Day is just another day for all of us—as it should be. For the broader community, it’s a time of year when people take notice of the environment with renewed spirit and commitment. Six years ago on Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Education announced their plans to create a voluntary recognition award called ED–Green Ribbon Schools (ED–GRS).

The Center for Green Schools is working with support from The Rockefeller Foundation to host the first-ever Education Ministerial for Sustainability, a peer-to-peer convening for ministers of education to establish national green schools initiatives around the world based on common criteria. This October, they will gather at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center on Lake Como, Italy, to help the green schools movement take a giant leap forward. This will be the first time that education ministers from around the world will come together to discuss sustainability and green schools.

Already, the three pillars of a green school—minimizing environmental impact, improving occupant health and teaching effective environmental education—have been adopted by organizations in over 30 countries as their criteria for a green school. In the United States, this framework is the backbone of the transformative ED-GRS Award.

Over the last five years, ED-GRS has united the NGO community, provided a clear connection point for federal programs and initiatives relating to green schools and contributed to a massive outpouring of support for school sustainability

What’s most exciting about ED-GRS is not the award itself, but rather the inclusive definition the U.S. Department of Education utilizes for its criteria. We’ve seen how schools of all descriptions—rural, urban, wealthy and disadvantaged, from the United States to Kenya to Hong Kong to Canada—have embraced the three pillars as a means to improve the places where our children learn. Solidifying global measures for green schools through an outcome-based framework will enable investors to monetize consistent metrics of impact at scale, transforming school infrastructure, student health and the direction of global education.

Rachel Gutter

Senior Vice President, Knowledge U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff

 

 

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LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

Chemline, Inc. is a member of The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and has the potential to provide LEED points.