U. S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, 2012

Lucy School, Middletown, MD

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Lucy School, Middletown, MD

LEED Platinum pride

The Lucy School is the only LEED Platinum school facility in Maryland. It also is on the National Register of Historic Places. The 17-acre campus includes a pond, waterfall, wetlands, forest, and rolling hills. The school purchases wind-generated energy and produces a whopping 43 percent of its energy on-site with solar installations. A roof garden accumulates and filters rainwater for toilet flushing. Teachers drink from reusable thermoses instead of water bottles. The school provides discounted tuition for families who carpool. Even the three-year-olds are very careful to conserve during hand washing, and are reminded by a song that they sing when it is time to wash hands: "Turn off the water, don't let it run. Save a little water for everyone." The cafeteria serves organic local food, including hormone-free milk, and is free of sugary snacks. The school maintenance team employs chemical-free cleaning products. Chemical-based fertilizers and herbicides, as well as smoking and idling vehicles, are not permitted on school property. All students spend about an hour a day outdoors, including unstructured playtime. Playgrounds have logs, rocks, and tree stumps to climb over, and tree "cookies" and pinecones to build with and carry about. Outdoor time also includes exploration walks, work in the garden, forest play, and visits to designated learning sites. Children are immersed in hands-on learning projects, keep nature journals, and construct and write a field guide for flora and fauna found on the campus. They plant, harvest, and maintain an organic garden and greenhouse. For independent projects, students are assessed according to school-created rubric assessments. All students who have been in the primary program for at least one full school year score proficient or better on environmental curriculum assessments.


Clarkston High School, Clarkston, MI

Celebrating technology and green energy curriculum

Clarkston High School was built in 1998 as a part of Clarkson Community schools, and the school received the ENERGY STAR award in 2008. Clarkston’s students, staff, administrators, and community members all contribute to the district’s energy management program. Due to these initiatives, Clarkston has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 27 percent through behavioral changes, lighting upgrades, energy use policies, installation of occupancy sensors, centralized HVAC and lighting controls, continual monitoring of utility usage data, and more. Clarkston also has reduced its water consumption by 55 percent from 2006 to 2010 by installing low-flow water fixtures, scheduling, and zoning of irrigation. Classes have created and maintain outdoor classrooms and learning trails. Students participate in spring and fall grounds cleanup days. A green energy curriculum is supplied by Energy Works Michigan. Clarkston has an arrangement with a local refrigeration design company to receive scrap and waste insulation so that grades six through 12 can conduct aerodynamic analysis. The English language arts department reviews papers using track changes to reduce copies made. CSMTech is a program where science and math infused with technology is celebrated. Science and math are taught with real- world applications and integrated throughout the curriculum. These career and technical education courses embedded with green and sustainability education.

Detroit Edison Public Service Academy, Detroit, MI

Urban school, global view

This school has obtained grants to erect a wind turbine, solar pavilion, and weather station, as well as plant trees. It obtained a multi-year STEM service-learning grant, and hosted a 2011 STEM service professional development conference. The school planted an urban garden with support from Lowe’s and Daimler Chrysler. Some students are involved in a program called Young Explorers at Ecotek Lab. They have created bioplastic and biofuel, visited a wind farm in Pigeon, Michigan, assisted the U.S. Coast Guard with the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, traveled to Cape Town, South Africa to work with the South African Weather Service and the GLOBE Program on climate change, and presented their work on environmental science and sustainability at the United Nations in New York City. The science club is developing a car driven by biofuel. The Engineering Society of Detroit introduced students to Future City Competitions, where students build models of sustainable cities of the future, using only recycled materials and robotics. The Academy’s first Earth Day event included a student led demonstration of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle from General Motors, as well as a variety of fuel efficient vehicles.


Garlough Environmental Magnet School, West Saint Paul

Outdoor learning stations and an environmental literacy graduation requirement

Thirteen percent of Erie’s consumed energy is derived from purchased renewable energy, and the high school Green Team promotes environmentally friendly behaviors throughout the school as well as the community. Skylights, large windows, and lighting occupancy sensors minimize the use of artificial lighting, and energy-efficient fixtures help prevent energy waste. Low-flow water fixtures with automatic sensor operation optimize water efficiency. The Green Team also contributed to water savings by researching and identifying plant species for landscaping that would require no supplemental watering after the first year of growth. Erie High School uses the Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager to track its energy use over time, and in 2012 the school earned an ENERGY STAR energy performance score of 94 due to its 40 percent greenhouse gas emission, 22 percent energy, and 26 percent water reductions. Also, more than 54 percent of the school’s waste is diverted from landfills. Each classroom operates worm bins and garden compost piles, with designated ”Rot Rangers” ensuring all discarded items are in the correct places. Garlough students have gone on to start composting and recycling programs in their middle school. The entire school “walks from school” to the school buses on a path through the woods every other Friday, and participates in Safe Routes to School. Six classrooms are equipped with treadmills and 80 under-desk peddlers are distributed throughout classrooms for students who need to move even as they are seated. The school is a Silver USDA HealthierUS Schools Challenge winner, and maintains organic gardens and a fresh salad bar. A major environmental theme is woven into the curriculum each year and students visit an on-site nature center daily. The campus includes Outdoor Wonder Learning Stations aligned to state academic standards with interdisciplinary lessons at these stations designed for every grade level, under such themes as chipmunk park, rain garden, bird sanctuary, tree walk, outdoor weather station, butterfly gardens, vernal pond, and tulip garden. A naturalist takes all students out every week and the school has implemented a fourth-grade environmental literacy requirement. The staff meets every month to integrate environmental and nature-based concepts into the school’s curriculum.

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