What’s New in Healthy, Green Schools at the U.S. Department of Education

Cross-posted from Lets Move!

In September, I opened the pilot year of the Green Ribbon Schools award to recognize the highest performing green and healthy schools in the nation. High standards of nutrition, fitness, and outdoor time for both students and staff are among the qualifying criteria for the award.

The award recognizes exemplary achievement in environmental impact, health and education. The standards and resources that the award relates advance ED and Let’s Move! shared aims of fostering health, wellness and productivity; cutting schools’ costs, saving jobs; providing a well-rounded education, increasing STEM skills, and ensuring students’ college and career preparedness. Among the fitness resources Green Ribbon ties together are the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative and The President’s Challenge. The nutrition standards it incorporates include USDA’s school garden promotion, Agriculture in the Classroom, and Farm to School initiative.

As President Obama and I have said, green schools are critical to schools’ fiscal health and our nation’s economy.  Through the American Jobs Act, schools and community colleges would receive $30 billion to modernize antiquated buildings and make green improvements that create new jobs, save schools money, and bring them closer to the standards that Green Ribbon Schools recognition award sets. These standards prepare students to participate in the green economy and strengthen the nation’s energy security and conserve precious natural resources.

And we know from the First Lady’s work that healthy habits, environmental education and green facilities schools are as vital to individual students as they are to their schools and the nation. High standards of nutrition, fitness and facility conditions improve student and staff health, attendance and productivity, and enhance achievement and engagement, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Green schools support our shared objectives of well-rounded education, healthy students and STEM achievement.

At the Department, we want to encourage states and schools to work toward Green Ribbon Schools’ three pillars of reduced environmental impact, improved health and environmental literacy. State education officials can participate by nominating schools to ED. School communities can help out by asking their state education authorities to nominate them and applying according to state procedures.  And everyone should remember to call on the many resources available in attaining the high standards Green Ribbon Schools sets out in environmental impact, health and education. We all have expertise and resources to offer to this important work: Let’s Move!, ED, non-profits, businesses, and federal, state and local health, environmental, energy and safety authorities.

We wish you the best in improving the environmental health, impact and education of your school!

Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education

Additional Information:

In the few weeks since the pilot year announcement, 19 states have already communicated to ED plans to nominate schools. ED encourages chief officers or their designees to use the following dates to guide their state selection process:

  • By November 22: Notify ED of participation
  • By March 22: Submit nominees to ED‎

Opening of the pilot year with nomination infrastructure: http:/www.ed.gov/blog/2011/09/final-plans-announced-for-green-ribbon-schools/

Permanent Program Pages with resources for states to nominate schools: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EDGreenRibbonSchools


  1. I am a BOD member of the Southwestern Educational Society (SESO), a college preparatory English inmersion school located in Mayaguez, PR. We have a green school initiative in place and am certain that we have an exemplary proyect in PUerto Rico.

  2. I guess I have a question about the requirements a school, or any establishment for that matter, has to meet in order to be called “green.” When it comes to green manufacturing, this industry is at the top of it’s game. Schools like Purdue (Green Manufacturing) are educating their students in this field at a level that has never before been seen at the university level.

    The future of this industry is a bright one. It’s going to be exciting to watch it’s growth.

    • Hello, my daughter will be attending a college in the fall, is there a list some where of schools that meet the requirements? She has asked me to look into this for her and I had to scratch my head because I had no idea what she was talking about. I am just a Dentist in Crystal Lake, I have no idea about this kind of stuff, where to look or better yet to tell her where to look.

      Any help would be Appreciated.

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