Obama Administration names Hawaii schools as first-ever U.S. Green Ribbon Schools

By José Villa
Hawaii Hispanic News

SAN FRANCISCO, California — U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was joined recently by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to announce the first-ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, a list including 78 schools, two of which are located in Hawaii.

The announcement was made during a visit to Stoddert Elementary School, Washington, D.C. The Ewa Makai Middle School in Ewa Beach is a new school built to LEED Gold standards making it Hawaii’s first public school “green” campus.

In addition, Ewa Makai Middle school does not use pesticides on campus. The Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Kamuela, has built a first-of-its-kind energy lab that received LEED platinum rating and net-zero energy via solar panels.

Three of the Southern California schools were located in the cities of Long Beach, Manhattan Beach and Lawndale. The final California school is located in city of Danville. The four schools were recognized for various achievements including: environmental curriculum; energy reduction; campus recycling; and water efficiency.

“Science, environmental and outdoor education play a central role in providing children with a well-rounded education, and helping prepare them for the jobs of the future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan “U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skill sets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments.”

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a federal recognition program that opened in September 2011. Honored schools exercise a comprehensive approach to creating “green” environments through: reducing environmental impact; promoting health; and ensuring a high quality environmental and outdoor education. They prepare students with the 21st century skills and sustainability concepts needed in the growing global economy.

“Schools that take a green approach cut costs on their utility bills, foster healthy and productive classrooms, and prepare students to thrive in the 21st century economy,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

“These Green Ribbon School award winners are taking outstanding steps to educate tomorrow’s environmental leaders, and demonstrating how sustainability and environmental awareness make sense for the health of our students and our country.”

The 78 awarded schools were named winners from among nearly 100 nominees submitted by 30 state education agencies, the District of Columbia and the Bureau of Indian Education. More than 350 schools completed applications to their state education agencies.

Among the list of winners are 66 public schools, including 8 charters, and 12 private schools. In total, the schools are composed of 43 elementary, 31 middle and 26 high schools with around 50 percent representing high poverty schools.

“These Green Ribbon Schools are giving students and educators what they need to maximize learning and minimize risks like asthma and other respiratory illnesses, ensuring that no child is burdened by pollution in or around their school,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Today’s winners are protecting our children’s health and opening up environmental education opportunities for students. The EPA is proud to help recognize the Green Ribbon award winners and will continue working to improve the environment of our nation’s schools and helping prepare students to succeed in the emerging green economy.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s “Green Ribbons” are one-year recognition awards. Next year’s competition will open in summer 2012. State agencies are encouraged to send their intents to submit nominees by June 15, 2012 via email to green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov

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