What Is A GR School?

One Vision of A Green Ribbon School

A Green Ribbon school is one that is well on its way towards embedding environment and sustainability in its curriculum and in its practices. It is using its intellectual, social and financial capital to advance the vision of a sustainable society. Environmental and sustainability perspectives are embedded in all the school planning processes, and all school communities meet regularly to assess progress and set new targets.

The school employs state-of-the-art
strategies in three areas:

1) curriculum, materials, and teacher training,

2) buildings (including energy, water and indoor environmental quality); grounds (including school gardens) and operations (including food, transportation, and purchasing); and

3) community relations/outreach.

This transition, while at times requiring upfront costs, has now significantly reduced operating costs.

The school regularly assesses its progress in achieving environmental and sustainability literacy in 100% of its graduates and graduation requirements include proficiency in these assessments. While it offers the AP environmental science course for those students with a strong interest in the science of environment and sustainability, it also has infused environmental and sustainability into all its STEM and social science courses as well as science courses. This has been done with a thoughtful scope and sequence so that all students are exposed to key environmental and sustainability concepts and principles while meeting relevant state and national education standards.

The school’s graduation requirements include community involvement, with all students participating in internships and field-based courses that help the host community and region move towards sustainability. Knowledge of sustainability is a critical factor in the school’s hiring, tenure and promotion systems, and the school rewards faculty members for their contributions to sustainability in their teaching, scholarship, and campus and community activities.

The school helps to regenerate local ecosystems by continually reducing its ecological footprint while also fortifying these systems. It aims to operate on a “zero carbon” basis, running on 100% local and regional renewable energy that adds significant dollars to the local economy. It seeks to be a net energy generator, returning energy to the grid. Any offsets it purchases are invested in local energy projects. New campus buildings are LEED certified, and old buildings have been renovated to the same standards.

The school’s food service mantra is ‘Local Food, Local People and Local Economy’, with the vast majority of the food sourced locally from organic producers and meeting USDA’s gold standard.  The campus has a zero waste strategy of reuse and recycle, and 100% of the organic waste is composted and recycled. Some of the school’s food comes from a garden on school grounds which is maintained by students and teachers. The grounds are also managed to provide wildlife habitat.

The school participates in a regional transportation strategy that has created: a walkable campus and community to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled; video conferencing to minimize long distance travel; shared vehicle plans; and collaboration with local officials and other stakeholders to reestablish and incorporate train passenger, freight service, and safe routes to school. Water and other scarce regional natural resources are conserved and recycled. Recess and outdoor time are vital components of the school day.

As a result, this Green Ribbon school’s graduates are entering higher education, the workforce and society adequately prepared to contribute to creating more sustainable local and regional communities, with vibrant economies that contribute to a healthy environment and foster a just and equitable society. And the school itself has become an important force in its community for creating the same.