Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Everything You Need to Become a Green Ribbon School

November 17, 2023

What is a Green School? 

A green school isn't just a place of learning; it's an opportunity to build the foundations of sustainability and environmental stewardship in a generation of learners willing to make a real difference. These educational institutions go above and beyond traditional academic goals, placing a significant emphasis on reducing the environmental impact of their activities by promoting environmentally conscious habits, health, and wellness. In aiming to inspire the next wave of eco-conscious citizens, a green school nurtures a harmonious relationship between the natural world and the education of its students. From energy-efficient classrooms to an eco-friendly curriculum, green schools strive to foster a deeper connection to nature and sustainable practices.

The Green Ribbon School Initiative

The roots of the Green Ribbon School initiative can be traced back to 2011 when the U.S. The Department of Education (DOE) launched the program with a mission to recognize and celebrate those schools that successfully demonstrated a commitment to sustainability, health, and environmental education. Drawing inspiration from the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for buildings, the Green Ribbon Schools program aimed to create a standard of excellence for schools' environmental and educational efforts. Over the years, this program has evolved, encouraging schools to adopt comprehensive approaches to sustainability, including reducing environmental impact, improving health and wellness, and providing effective environmental education.

Becoming a Green Ribbon School

To become a Green Ribbon School, institutions must follow a comprehensive set of criteria provided by the U.S. Department of Education. These criteria encompass three "Pillars," intending to reduce environmental impact and costs as much as possible, improve the comfortability and health of the students and staff within the school, and provide effective environmental and sustainability education. Schools must work toward achieving these goals and report their progress to be considered for the prestigious recognition.

  • Reducing Environmental Impact: Schools should aim to reduce their environmental footprint effectively. This goal can be accomplished through multiple avenues, including the improvement of the building's energy efficiency, water conservation strategies, waste reduction, and the promotion of eco-friendly transportation options. 
  • Improving Health and Wellness: A student's ability to participate and excel in their academics is heavily influenced by their surroundings. For pupils to be able to prioritize the health of the planet, they must feel they are in a secure and productive environment. Therefore, schools must enhance their students' physical health and well-being by ensuring good indoor air quality, healthy food choices, and a safe and conducive learning environment.
  • Effective Environmental Education: This pillar emphasizes the integration of environmental and sustainability education into the curriculum. This means that the students should have access to meaningful outdoor experiences as well as the opportunity to learn about environmental challenges and solutions. Hands-on experiences are key. Schools should feel free to get creative and make the most of their environment. 

Becoming a Green Ribbon School is a substantial commitment, but rest assured that any efforts your school invests will pay off. By making a few changes to your institution's daily operations, you can grant your school an incredible opportunity to make a significant difference in its community through its students and personnel, exemplifying the principles of sustainability, health, and environmental stewardship in education. Ultimately, the Green Ribbon School initiative aims to encourage schools to become leaders in the transformation toward a more sustainable and eco-conscious future. It's never too late to start. If you want to take the first steps to become a more sustainable, eco-friendly school, visit Watt Watchers of Texas to get started! 

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
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