White House CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley, EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe, and Deputy Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Janey Thornton joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter to congratulate the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees on their achievements at a ceremony in Washington, DC. At the event, sixty-four schools were honored for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including STEM, green careers and civics. In addition, 14 districts were honored for the first-ever District Sustainability Award.
Representatives from honored schools and districts received sustainably crafted plaques and banners in recognition of their achievements.
"Together, healthy, safe and modern facilities combined with wellness practices like outdoors physical activity, nutritious food and hands-on environmental learning form a strong foundation for a quality education. These schools and districts exhibit best practices to reduce costs and increase achievement, health and equity, for all schools, not just aspiring green schools," said Secretary Duncan.
"The schools being honored today are taking smart, innovative steps to reduce environmental impacts and energy costs, promote healthy learning environments, and teach students sustainable practices that they can carry with them into their homes and future careers," said Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley. "These leaders are models for how schools nationwide can achieve healthier classrooms, lower their energy bills, and set their students up for success."
"The Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees are preventing harmful pollution that leads to illnesses like asthma and creating healthier learning spaces for our children. Thanks to the efficient technology and energy-saving practices that help them achieve their goals, the awardees are also saving money," said EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. "As we see time and time again, sustainability is good for our environment, our economy and, most importantly, our children's health. And because the students who attend these schools have a firsthand understanding of the link between environmental protection and public health, sustainability is also good for our future; it helps empower the next generation of environmental stewards."
"I am proud to see schools and districts across the country making changes to set up America's children for a lifetime of success, both in the classroom and out in the real world. Improving the nutrition of our young people is a top priority for USDA and this Administration," said Thornton, deputy under secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Giving children the tools they need to make healthy diet and exercise choices today creates a generational change that will lead to a healthier American future."
Duncan and Kanter also announced the 'Education Built to Last' Facilities Best Practices Tour. The tour will highlight practices that states, districts and schools use to improve the overall wellness, productivity, and achievement of occupants through health, safety, and educational improvements in school facilities.
"Because where students learn matters as much as the who and how, the Department will be visiting these honorees to highlight what schools and districts can do now to ensure that their learning facilities promote achievement, health, equity and cost savings," said Under Secretary Martha Kanter.
The schools were confirmed from a pool of candidates voluntarily nominated by 32 state education agencies, with honorees selected from 30. The list of selectees includes 54 public schools and 10 private schools. The public schools include seven charter, five magnet and four career and technical schools. The schools serve various grade levels, including 40 elementary, 23 middle and 19 high schools are among them, with several schools having various K-12 configurations, from 29 states and the District of Columbia. Over half of the 2013 honorees serve a student body more than 40 percent of which is eligible for free and reduced price lunch.
A report with state-by-state summaries of the 78 honorees can be found here. The list of all selected schools and districts, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars in which the 2013 honorees are exemplary can be found here.
The Department is looking forward to a third year of the recognition award, and will be publishing updated competition criteria this summer. State education agencies are encouraged to indicate intent to nominate schools in 2014 by August 1, 2013. Schools must be nominated by a participating state education agency and cannot apply directly to ED.