WASHINGTON — The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently honored the 2014 Best of Green Schools recipients. The program recognized 10 individuals, institutions, projects and events that represented the best environmental efforts in schools across the country.
“Selecting the Best of Green Schools honorees is an exciting and challenging process, as there are so many fantastic examples of efforts being made in communities large and small,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools, in a statement. “Some of the honorees go about their work quietly, others are in public positions and have the attention of a national audience. Every one of the honorees is a leader, taking risks, setting an example for others, innovating and diligently pursuing a world in which every student attends a green school within this generation.”
The Best of Green Schools recipients include:
K-12 school – The Monarch School (Houston, Texas): Since its founding in 1997, the Monarch School’s environmental education program has offered students with special needs the opportunity to learn about the environment on campus.
Higher education institution – Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, Mich.): The Western Michigan University (WMU) community has served as a leader in sustainability through energy conservation efforts, recycling and waste reduction programs, and by facilitating cooperative research into green manufacturing practices.
Ambassador – Mark Swiger (Wheeling, W.Va.): Mark Swiger, a teacher in Marshall County Schools, spearheaded the movement in his county school system to work toward greener building and sustainable operations.
Policy maker – Representative Brenda Gilmore (Nashville, Tenn.): As the chair and founder of the Tennessee Green Schools Caucus, Rep. Gilmore has worked with colleagues within Tennessee and across state lines to promote activities that improve schools. In 2014, Gilmore championed legislation that encourages school districts to utilize less toxic products and schedule all cleaning and maintenance acts at times that limit student and staff exposure to harmful chemicals.
Student leadership – Dunloggin Middle School Oyster Gardeners (Ellicott City, Md.): For the past three years, Dunloggin Middle School Oyster Gardeners have cared for and relocated nearly 12,000 oyster spat as part of an initiative to help clean the Chesapeake Bay.
Business leadership – Bristol-Myers Squibb (New York): Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) established a senior-level sustainability council in New Jersey in 2009. Since the summer of 2013, BMS has funded a Green Schools Fellow at the New Jersey School Boards Association.
Collaboration – University at Buffalo, the State University of New York (Buffalo, N.Y.): In partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York (SUNY-Buffalo) worked to convene more than 150 organizations and more than 300 members of the general public in three region-wide environmental congresses to create “Our Shared Agenda for Action,” which highlights action items on regional environmental issues.
Transformation – Green Bronx Machine (New York): Green Bronx Machine is transforming an unused library into the first ever Health, Wellness and Biodiversity Center in the South Bronx.
Community Event – Learning Gate Community School (Lutz, Fla.): EcoFest 2014, presented by Learning Gate Community School in conjunction with the City of Tampa, Fla., and USF Patel College of Global Sustainability drew more than 4,500 participants in April 2014.
Moment for the Movement – Annie Donnelly (West Palm Beach, Fla.): Donnelly recently authored a children’s book titled, “Willow Watts and the Green School Wish.” Her story teaches children about a wide range of sustainability measures.