Award Your School for Sustainability – Green Ribbon Schools Recognition Award
Children are constantly learning, and educational institutions strive to build a strong foundation for future success. They need to be taught the interrelatedness and interdependence of our local and global existence, and they should be provided the opportunity to constantly improve themselves, their learning, their school, and the environment. We need to empower children to make thoughtful and responsible decisions.
Leading through example, we can promote this initiative through our schools. The Green Ribbon Schools program is the first comprehensive green schools program by the Federal Government. Effective for the 2011-2012 school year, the program recognizes the highest performing green schools in the nation. These schools excel in environmental impact, health and education, and pave the way for a generation of socially responsible citizens. Selection is based on the National Green Ribbon Schools three pillars:
Pillar 1: Reduced environmental impact and energy efficiency
Pillar 2: Healthy school environments
Pillar 3: Environmental and sustainability education
Schools are evaluated based on their progress towards these concepts and a wide variety of green benchmark. The achievements recognized by the Green Ribbon Schools Recognition Award directly benefit School Districts. They advance the complementary aims of cutting schools’ costs; fostering health, wellness and productivity; providing a well-rounded education. Healthy, high performing buildings support healthy, high performing students.
Efficiencies recognized through these green schools lead to reduced costs within the school district, allowing the district to retain employees that they could otherwise not afford. Infrastructure improvements to school facilities create jobs within the community and the school district, and save schools money.
Green schools teach healthy behaviors, and foster health, wellness and productivity. They are as vital to individual students as they are to the nation as a whole. Schools should promote high standards of nutrition, fitness and facility conditions in order to improve student and staff health, attendance and productivity.
Green initiatives aim to provide a well-rounded education to all children, enhancing achievement and engagement. Leading by example, these sustainable initiatives increase skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), skills which ensure students’ college and career preparedness. In addition, students are more prepared to participate in the green economy.
Environmentally sustainable buildings serve to strengthen the nation’s energy security and conserve our natural resources for future generations. Healthy behaviors, environmental awareness and environmentally sustainable facilities are as vital to students as they are to our nation.
The Green Ribbon Schools program recognizes 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 deadline for this year has passed, but you can get a jumpstart on your application for next year! Applications are available on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website. This year, schools nominated by the PDE received recognition as a “Pennsylvania Pathways Green School,” which included a $3,000 grant to be used to further enhance the school’s curriculum in the field of environment and ecology.