The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in collaboration with the Green Schools National Network (GSNN), announced in February the recipients of the 2020 Best of Green Schools Awards. The awards recognize people, schools, campuses and organizations making significant strides in school sustainability. Honorees will be recognized on Monday, March 2 during the Green Schools Awards Luncheon at the Green Schools Conference and Expo taking place in Portland, Oregon.
This year’s 10 awardees are elevating the importance of sustainability in schools through grassroots organization, cross-sector collaboration and hands-on experiential learning. Included among this year’s list of recipients is a special Moment for the Movement Award, which will recognize those who have participated in the transformative international youth climate movement. The efforts of each awardee is critical to the development of green schools and contributes to helping reduce environmental impacts and costs, improve health and performance, and increase sustainability literacy shaping the next generation of leaders.
“This year’s awardees are the best of the best among education, environmental and business leaders,” said Anisa Heming, director, Center for Green Schools at USGBC. “Their commitment to breaking out of the status quo and charting new ground make them excellent examples for all those working to make our schools sustainable, healthy places where students learn to lead the way forward and protect our environment for future generations.”
The full list of 2020 Best of Green Schools Awardees include:
- Ambassador Award: Reilly Loveland, New Buildings Institute & Portland Green Schools Committee (Portland, Oregon); Loveland has dedicated her professional career and volunteer efforts to improving school environments for students, providing trainings across the country that have led to greener schools, including schools pursuing zero energy and zero carbon.
- Business Leader Award: Grimm + Parker Architects (Washington D.C., Maryland & Virginia); A large percentage of Grimm + Parker LEED projects are K-12 public schools, where project managers go beyond greening the physical building, but also engage school leaders on how to operate and maintain high-performance buildings and how to integrate the school site into school curriculum.
- Michelle Curreri Collaborator Award: Eco-School Network (Portland, Oregon); The Eco-School Network equips parents and students in Oregon to lead school communities toward sustainability through free training and ongoing support. Their corps of 150 volunteer parent leaders engages over 35,000 K-5 students in practicing sustainability every day at school. This award is presented in memory of Michele Curreri, a beloved friend and colleague from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Environments Division, commemorating her lifelong dedication to promoting healthy school environments through collaboration.
- Higher Education Institution Award: Center for Public Engagement with Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, North Carolina.); Since 2018, the Center has partnered with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools on the Northside Outdoor Wondering and Learning Initiative, which engages elementary school teachers in year-long professional development, preparing them to integrate environmental and sustainability education in their curriculum.
- K-12 School Award: Common Ground High School (New Haven, Connecticut); Founded in 1997, Common Ground is the nation’s longest-running environmental charter high school. Over the last five years, Common Ground has created a new core curriculum that focuses on food and environmental justice, built a new LEED Gold school building, supports 23 New Haven public schools in creating school gardens and outdoor classrooms, and launched a regional network of urban public high schools with a focus on the environment and social justice.
- Policy Maker Award: Jay Inslee, Governor of the State of Washington (Olympia, Washington); As a result of Governor Inslee’s leadership, Washington teachers receive training to teach climate science and how it relates to green careers, helping to ensure that all Washington students become more knowledgeable about climate change and environmental stewardship.
- School System Award: School District of Palm Beach County (Palm Beach, Florida); The school district in Florida has fostered a culture of sustainability that supports 180 schools across the district with improving waste, energy and water conservation, and alternative transportation.
- Student Leader Award: Henry Anderson, Sunset High School (Portland, Oregon); After seeing the prevalence of microplastics in the environment at local beach cleanups, Anderson organized a pilot program to eliminate all plastic silverware from his school cafeteria, raising necessary funds, collaborating with school staff and producing creative outreach and communication materials. His efforts have resulted in 20 additional Portland-area schools eliminating plastic utensils in their cafeterias.
- Transformation Award: Bruce Lindsay, Manager of Energy and Resources Conservation, Brevard Public Schools (Viera, Florida); Prompted by the need for the school district to reduce its energy footprint, Lindsay led a pilot program to conduct energy audits at three K-12 schools with volunteer professional engineers and mechanical engineering students from the Florida Institute of Technology. The program provided hands-on experience for mechanical engineering students and led the school district to continue auditing additional schools.
- Special Recognition – Moment for the Movement Award: Student-Led Climate Protests (Worldwide); The international student climate strikes touched every corner of the world, and made young activists the face for the next generation of sustainability leaders. Advocates of green schools have been moved and inspired by these student activists, who have ignited the discussion around the urgent climate issues affecting our planet.
“Each year, the Best of Green Schools Awards recognizes the students, teachers, education leaders, and green school advocates who are going above and beyond to advance sustainability in K-12 schools,” said Jennifer Seydel, executive director, Green Schools National Network. “These amazing honorees exemplify what’s possible when sustainability is the driver of innovation in education.”
The Green Schools Conference and Expo is in its 10th year and is the largest gathering of green school advocates. Produced in partnership between the Center for Green Schools at USGBC and Green Schools National Network, the conference offers education and networking opportunities focused on creating healthy school environments, driving culture and behavioral change, designing schools for the future, and engaging and empowering students. The program is available online and registration is open.