The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in collaboration with the Green Schools National Network (GSNN), recently announced the 2016 Best of Green School award recipients.
The awards recognize environmental efforts in schools across the country and highlight national leaders and innovators in school sustainability.
“This year’s honorees are making huge strides in their schools and communities,” Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, said. “Each recipient is an inspiring example of innovation and passion in pursuit of schools that educate a generation of sustainability natives, students prepared to take the lead in the 21st century. Becoming a green school is a journey, not a destination. Through their work, the leaders behind this inspiring work are blazing new trails in this movement to transform all schools into healthy, safe, and inspired places for learning.”
The recipients are:
- K-12 School: Environmental Charter Schools (ECS), Los Angeles. ECS creates and delivers interdisciplinary learning opportunities using the environment to engage students and connect them to the wider world. ECS shares its best practices through The Green Ambassador Institute, a professional-development program for educators and organizations looking to implement hands-on sustainable education.
- School System: Fayette County Public Schools, Lexington, Ky. Fayette County Public Schools is said to holistically address environmental literacy, building performance, and student wellness and leverage students’ passion and leadership in all three areas.
- Higher Education Institution: Wings of Hope Environmental Education Program at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), Fort Myers, Fla. The FGCU Wings of Hope program seeks to protect the Florida panther and its habitat through transformational environmental education, research, and awareness. The program engages thousands of fourth- and fifth-grade students in conservation through education and action.
- Policy Maker: Rep. Chris Lee, House District 51, Hawaii. Lee was recognized for sponsoring HB 1509, which mandates that Hawaii’s entire public higher-education system operate as net zero by 2035.
- Collaboration: Space to Grow: Greening Chicago Schoolyards, Chicago. Space to Grow engages community members in the schoolyard-design process and provides much needed green space in heavily urbanized neighborhoods.
- Transformation: USGBC Louisiana Green Schools Initiative, Baton Rouge, La. Through a number of programs, including the Louisiana Green School Challenge, USGBC Louisiana has engaged more than 100 schools, 250 teachers, and 15,000 students over the last three years.
- Student Leadership: Hammond Junior High Magnet School, Hammond, La. Over the last three years, the Hammond Junior High Magnet School student Green Club, through the USGBC Louisiana Green Schools Challenge, has planted a schoolyard garden, initiated a recycling program, and requested the school board send it the school’s energy bills for analysis and performance tracking.
- Moment for the Movement: Green Schools Alliance District Collaborative, Washington, D.C., and Research Summit on Childhood Health and School Buildings, Washington, D.C. (tie). Comprised of 21 U.S. school districts, the Green Schools Alliance District Collaborative leverages its collective knowledge, experience, and influence to accelerate the implementation of sustainability principles in schools. Held Nov. 17, 2015, the Research Summit on Childhood Health and School Buildings, convened by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, The American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education, and the Center for Green Schools, brought together leading thinkers for a day of collaboration around the health of children as impacted by the environments in which they learn.
- Ambassador: Deborah Moore, Green Schools Initiative, Berkeley, Calif. Under Moore’s leadership, the Green Schools Initiative helped to protect children's health, promoted new funding sources for green schools, and launched the Nature's Voices Project to amplify the role of students in the green-schools effort.
- Business Leadership: Pauline Souza, WRNS studio partner and director of sustainability, San Francisco. For more than 30 years, Souza has been building and advocating for high-quality sustainable educational environments by working with school administrators, educators, and students.
“The Best of Green Schools honorees play an essential role in propelling the green-schools movement forward and setting excellent examples of how to create healthy and sustainable schools,” Jennifer Seydel, PhD, executive director of GSNN, said. “As our movement advances, having such exemplary mentors across the country will help us improve our work and drive our mission.”