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

Sidwell Friends School, NW

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Sidwell Friends School, NW

The first K-12 LEED Platinum school in the world

Sidwell Friends Middle School uses 60 percent less energy and 93 percent less water than standard construction. Its green roof helps to reduce the urban heat island effect, and the campus is certified as wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. The school participates in a Community Supported Agriculture cooperative and obtains healthy food and ingredients from local organic vendors. All eighth graders complete an environmental science course, and sustainability is infused in other courses throughout the sixth through eighth grades. Students are conducting a long-term study of bee populations on campus with the help of the U.S. Geological Survey. They have participated in environmental restoration and conservancy projects in places as far away as Hawaii and Alaska, as well as down the road at neighboring schools. Eighth-grade environmental science focuses on four significant environmental issues that will confront students: biodiversity loss, global climate change, water stress, and human population growth. At the end of the course, each student writes a personal code of environmental ethics based on what they have learned, which is included in their middle school time capsules.


Learning Gate Community School, Lutz, FL

The first public school to achieve LEED Platinum certification

At Learning Gate, a 10,000 gallon rainwater harvesting system helps put grey water to good use both indoors and out. Students of all ages participate in the ecological curriculum; kindergarteners initiated a Waste Free Lunch program, third graders spearhead composting, middle-school students operate the electrical recycling program, and fourth graders are responsible for ink cartridge recycling. All 800 students spend 30 percent of their day participating in outdoor classes, and participate in free play time every day after lunch. The Seed to Soup Curriculum® ensures that all students attain an age-appropriate level of environmental literacy. Students also are required to complete a Junior Master Gardening program, and through the efforts of students, the school donated over 2200 pounds of harvest to a local charity last year. All teachers are required to take Project Wild, Project Wet, and Project Learning Tree courses, and a quarter of the instructors also have completed the Master Naturalist Program sponsored by the University of Florida. Finally, in 2011, the school hosted a sustainability fair attended by 100 local businesses, farmers, and artists as well as over 1,000 attendees from the community.

Pine Jog Elementary, West Palm Beach, FL

The first LEED Gold certified school in Florida

Since its inception in 2008, Pine Jog has been committed to becoming a world leader in developing a culture of sustainability for future generations. This school, where 70 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, has won numerous awards for design, construction, and operations.  The school's staff has taken the green-school concept and continued to build upon sustainability concepts with a level of enthusiasm that is infectious.  Students make use of energy and water consumption information available on touch screens in various locations throughout the school.  The school is one of Florida’s most energy-efficient schools; Pine Jog has reduced energy use by 25 percent annually, which is enough to pay for one teacher’s salary each year. 140 acres of this campus, which is shared with Florida Atlantic University, are natural woodlands, featuring multiple outdoor classrooms and three miles of trails. 93 percent of this LEED Gold facility is built on 10 acres of land. As part of the United Nation’s Billion Trees Campaign, Pine Jog students planted 1700 trees in 2011. Students manage all aspects of a 4000-plant hydroponic garden, including its business plan. The campus also houses nine themed gardens, including an urban peach orchard, pond, and beehive, as well as extensive nature trails. Students created a YouTube Video detailing how water is collected in cisterns and reused to irrigate gardens. They create artwork and musical instruments from items that would have gone to the landfill. The school’s Reuse Center allows the community to drop off clothing, books, and classroom supplies that they don’t need, or find treasures to reuse. The school principal drives a used, vegetable-oil fueled car, a diesel car, and a solar powered golf cart. Students participate in the NASA Train Like an Astronaut Program, through which they experience rigorous outdoor physical activities that are linked to the curriculum. All teachers are certified in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Federation's Project Wild Curriculum, and study Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods.

Terra Environmental Institute, Miami, FL

The first LEED Gold science magnet high school in the nation

Inspired by global environmental conservation initiatives and STEM national programs, Terra is the first green LEED Gold science magnet high school in the nation. Students use engineering, medical, and biological sciences to promote scientific knowledge and conservation techniques in one of three academies: Environmental Research and Field Studies, Biomedical Research, and Robotics and Engineering Technology. Students conduct research outdoors in the school’s greenhouse and composting sites, agricultural grounds, and aquaculture research facilities, all built and maintained by students. They have partnered with the Dumond Conservancy to design and build a tree-climbing robot fitted with a camera to monitor endangered species in the Amazon. Students have patented battery design and robotic devices. Students have contributed to the publishing of scientific data in national journals. Every student at Terra is required to complete a graduating portfolio that consists of multiple scientific research projects in environmental topics, including a field experience community internship and a certification in their area of study. Students enjoy literature under the natural light and trees in "Reading on the Green" sessions.

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