This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 04, 2011

Education Department Program Advances Sustainable Schools

Photo of a school roof with photovoltaic panels

Schools like the Richardsville Elementary School in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which incorporated energy efficiency measures in construction, will be honored in the new Green Ribbon Schools program.
Credit: Rachel Paul Photography for CMTA Engineers

The U.S. Department of Education announced on April 26 the creation of the Green Ribbon Schools program, which will recognize schools for effectively managing their carbon footprint. The new awards program will be run by the Education Department with the support of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The program will encourage school systems to take comprehensive approaches to becoming green by cutting expenses through energy efficiency and green building measures.

DOE estimates that smarter energy management in U.S. schools, which spent $6-8 billion on energy in 2000, could reduce energy consumption by as much as 25% and could cut school energy costs nationally by more than $1 billion annually. While many states have already established either green school programs or environmental literacy plans, the Green Ribbon Schools program will be modeled after the Department of Education's Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which annually honors public and private schools that are either high-performing or have improved student achievement to high levels. Through the Green Ribbon Schools program, the Education Department, the EPA, and CEQ will recognize schools for energy conservation. The application for the program will be released later this year, and the first group of winners will be announced next year. See the Department of Education press release.

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