Florida Green Schools Network

The Florida Green Schools Network is a coalition of education, environmental and sustainability advocates promoting energy and resource efficiency, physical health and environmental literacy.

In 2009, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Florida Department of Education (DOE) and a host of community partners, recognized the environmental achievements of students, teachers, classes, schools and school districts through the first annual Florida Green School Awards.

Announced during Earth Day at the Capitol on April 22, 2009, the Florida Green School Awardswill be presented each year and will present green school awards in five categories:

  1. Students
  2. Classrooms
  3. Teachers
  4. Schools and
  5. School districts

The award program is open to all students, faculty and administrators from K-12 schools (public or private). Applications are accepted each school year from February 1st through June 21st.

Finalists will be identified and invited to the formal awards ceremony which will take place in November of the following year, where the statewide winners will be announced.

Applications should address one or more of the five approved green school themes:

  • Green Learning Environments:The Green Learning Environments theme includes efforts that green the school facilities, or school grounds by addressing the three pillars of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) while integrating learning into each one. Efforts may include projects that promote healthy learning environments (indoors and out), enhance or restore school grounds, or reduce waste and promote resource use efficiency.
  • Exemplary Programs in Curriculum and Teaching: The Exemplary Programs in Curriculum and Teaching theme addresses systematic efforts to use the local environment or environmental topics to enhance the curriculum in any subject. This theme also includes efforts that enhance a teacher’s capacity to integrate green school instructional materials into the curriculum, make use of green school facilities, improve their knowledge of green schools, or improve their delivery of green school lessons/activities.
  • Service Learning:The Service Learning theme emphasizes efforts that integrate service and learning with a special emphasis on local environmental service projects that strengthen relationships between the school and the community and foster a sense of stewardship.
  • Policy and Partnerships:The Policy and Partnerships theme focuses on successful policies that establish a broader foundation for green Schools and/or partnerships that engage private sector, universities, government agencies or non-profit groups in support of green School efforts.
  • Recycling: The recycling theme revolves around efforts to promote, enhance, sustain and increase recycling efforts of all types of materials at schools or school district facilities.

The Green School Awards is a partnership between DEP, DOE, Sustainable Florida and Florida’s Foundation.

On October 7, 2009, DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole emceed the first annual event at the University of South Florida and recognized the five winners. The winners represented schools from throughout Florida including: Pasco, Monroe, Brevard and Broward counties. Pasco County was honored in both the district and student categories.

Read the full news release from DEP about this important event.

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

The Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality launched the concept of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools on April 26, 2011.

The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools that save energy, reduce costs, protect health and exemplify environmentally sustainable learning spaces and educational programs to boost academic achievement and community engagement.

As part of its effort, the Department aims to:

  • Facilitate the dissemination of best practices and established metrics regarding energy efficient and cost effective, healthy and environmentally sustainable learning spaces and educational programs, among federal agencies, states, tribes and localities; and
  • Achieve these objectives by encouraging the coordination of efforts by the public (at federal, state and local levels), for-profit, and non-profit sectors and among schools themselves.

Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, the Department will recognize schools where staff, students, officials and communities have worked together to produce energy efficient, sustainable and healthy school environments and to ensure the sustainability and environmental literacy of graduates.

Learn more at the US DOE website. Check back for Florida-specific information in mid-January.

2011 Awards

 

2010 Awards

 

 

At one school, students collected and recycled hundreds of used ink cartridges and cell phones. At another, they harvested water in rain barrels to irrigate campus gardens. And at a third, they turned off half the lights for a day.

The students and teachers behind these efforts for a greener planet will be recognized Oct. 12 when they gather on the eve of the annual Sustainable Florida Conference in Palm Beach Gardens to learn the winners of 2010′s Green Schools Awards. Sustainable Florida is a program of the Collins Center.

The ceremony will recognize finalists from across the state who are competing to see who came up with the best planet-saving ideas this past year. The finalists fall in one of five categories: student, class, teacher, school and district.

This year, the Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards drew about 60 applications.

This year’s finalists and their categories are:

Student Finalists

  • Nicholas Valdesis the President of the Environmentalist Club at Miami Springs Middle School. Nicholas, along with teachers, local stores and other students, conserved water, planted organic vegetables on 2.5 acres and started a recycling program that has recycled 24,000 tons of paper to date.
  • Madeline (Maddi) Cowenis the co-vice president of the Gables Earth Environmental Club at Coral Gables Senior High School. She and other club members initiated a program with Dade Recycling to collect and recycle hundreds of used ink cartridges and cell phones since November 2009. Gables Earth Club students worked with other clubs, including the National Honor Society to promote the program.
  • Erich Christian thought of a biodiesel project at Oak Hall School in Gainesville. Students collected and recycled 600 gallons of used vegetable oil (UVO) from the community and established a free-standing biodiesel facility on campus. Also, Erich worked to amend Florida statute 206 as a member of the Alachua County Energy Conservation Strategies Committee, and subsequently lobbied for SB 1730 and HB 1065, which allowed the project to be duplicated at other Florida schools by exempting schools that produce up to 1,000 gallons from reporting and tax burdens.

Class Finalists

  • Deborah Pate, a returning finalist, is a teacher at A. K. Suter Elementary in Pensacola who began the ‘Spread the Word’ energy conservation program and incorporates National Energy Education Development (NEED) curriculum into her energy and conservation lessons. Pate’s class initiated a sustainable recycling effort within the school, and then solicited donations from businesses within the community. To create awareness about National Recycling Day, a recycling contest brought in 13,000 plastic bags and 700 phone books. Pate’s class sponsored Turn off Half the Lights Day.
  • Judy Deris a fifth-grade teacher at J.S. Robinson Elementary in Plant City. Der’s class began an environmental tutoring program with the Florida Autism Center of Excellence (FACE). Students, along with their FACE partners, planted 80 Florida native trees and a Florida native plant butterfly garden at FACE. Students presented their project to more than 500 students at the Earth Force Summit in Tampa on Earth Day, and were presented with the Staples Tampa Bay Environmental Award for their leadership.
  • Peter Jordan is a teacher at Ocoee High School, and with his students, began the Ocoee Green project to encourage student leadership and establish environmental stewardship in the community. Their project focuses on composting, organic vegetable farming, recycling, water catchment, hydroponics and vermiculture. Students act as coordinators in encouraging environmental awareness to others.

Teacher Finalists

  • Susan Carney, a returning finalist, is a Kindergarten teacher at Ozona Elementary in Pinellas County. Carney led a four-part project funded by the Southwest Florida Water Management District and The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, saving the school district almost $18,000. The students built an Osprey habitat, assembled a hydroponic garden, created a butterfly habitat and established an indoor aquatic ecosystem.
  • Linda Gordonis a teacher at Imagine Charter School at Weston in Broward County. The Environmental Club Gardens project initiated by Gordon enables students to receive hands-on experience in sustainable gardening by enriching classroom discussions on plants and life cycles. Funds for the project came from recycling ink cartridges through Cartridges for Kids.
  • Pamela Krauss is a high school teacher at South Plantation High School in Broward County. Krauss’s Green Waterwise project involves water conservation initiatives through harvesting and distribution of rainwater from rain barrels. Multidisciplinary curriculum was incorporated into lessons: the art class painted the barrels, physics was used in the pump design/operation and math was used to calculate water savings. Rain water collected in barrels saves up to 52 gallons per day and helps irrigate the two gardens on campus.

School Finalists

  • Pine Jog Elementary in West Palm Beach, a returning finalist, has continued to implement multiple green initiatives. The school uses technology to monitor energy and water usage while incorporating concepts into the curriculum. All students participate in gardening, planting and restoration activities to increase their awareness and dedication for a greener school. Pine Jog participated in the International Green Cup Challenge, and won first place in the FAU Green Schools Recognition Program. The school also hosted the first green schools conference that drew 300 participants from Palm Beach and surrounding counties.
  • Palm Harbor Middle School received platinum recognition within the Pinellas Green and Healthy Schools Program. The school worked to decrease its operating costs while increasing recycling knowledge and encouraging ecological living. Appliances have been adapted, monitored and analyzed to reduce energy usage. The program has been implemented, at no cost to the school, through $9,490 in grant funding. In addition to energy savings, 64,174 pounds of paper was recycled within a 12month period.
  • Learning Gate Community School in Hillsborough County, a returning finalist, providing an integrated education for K-8 students. Content in building systems and components (such as carpet tiles from 88 percent used soda bottles) are incorporated into lesson plans. Students use cisterns to collect and filter rainwater which is then used to flush toilets and irrigate native plants. Students also monitor the air quality and CO2 emissions. Learning Gate is the first public school in the nation awarded a Platinum designation for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Schools program.

District Finalists

  • Broward County’s ‘Live Green Learn Green’has a plan to create sustainable policies within the district. Retrofitting schools with water saving and energy efficient products has resulted in 42,216,261 kilowatt hours of energy saved in just one year, a 7 percent reduction. New recycling policies resulted in 1,848 tons of goods that were recycled and diverted from the waste stream. The plan also includes the use of green cleaning products and anti-idling bus policies to improve air quality.
  • Returning finalist Pinellas County Green and Healthy SchoolsCertification Program encourages schools to research and implement sustainable curriculum and projects. The Green and Healthy Schools Program is an outgrowth of an existing recycling/conservation program where county schools received $1.4 million in rebates and/or cost avoidance over the last three years. Currently, 40 schools are participating in this initiative at zero cost to the district.
  • Returning finalist Pasco County-Hooked on Recycling! involves the entire district in recycling. The students continue to provide solutions to minimizing solid waste while educating themselves and others on the importance of recycling. About 1,700 tons of materials have been recycled, earning revenue of $88,361 and avoiding solid waste disposal costs of $140,819.

Finalists received a certificate and a check for $250. The winners will receive a trophy and a check for $1,500.

2010 Awards: Repurposed rain, doused lights, biodiesel score!

PALM BEACH GARDENS — One student in Gainesville organized an effort to collect and recycle 600 gallons of used vegetable oil from the community and established a free-standing biodiesel facility on campus.

A classroom in Pensacola sponsored a day where the school turned off half the lights.

And a teacher in Broward County set up a system to collect rain water in rain barrels to irrigate gardens on campus.

These environmentally friendly projects proved to be winners Tuesday night as educators, students and supporters from across Florida gathered at the Marriot Palm Beach Gardens for the second annual Serve to Preserve Green Schools Awards reception.

About 100 people attended the awards ceremony, held on the eve of the Sustainability Florida Conference, a program of the Collins Center for Public Policy.

Tim Center, vice president of sustainability initiatives for the Collins Center, said the contest drew almost 60 applicants, all vying for the top spot as a leader in sustainability programs within their school districts.

According to Center, the total cumulative impact of projects implemented from all applicants resulted in a savings of more than $1.1 million, 34,000 gallons of water and nearly 56 million kilowatt-hours of energy. That is enough to fill 680 bathtubs with water and power more than 5,000 homes for an entire year, he said.

“They’re just incredibly inspiring stories,” Center told the crowd. “Clearly, you all are all leaders.”

Finalists and winners in five categories were recognized. The finalists received a certificate and a check for $250. The winners walked away with a trophy and $1,500.

The winners and their accomplishments were:

Erich Christian, student winner. Eric initiated a biodiesel project at the Oak Hall School in Gainesville. Students collected and recycled 600 gallons of used vegetable oil from the community and established a free-standing biodiesel facility on campus. Also, Erich worked to amend Florida tax law as a member of the Alachua County Energy Conservation Strategies Committee, and subsequently lobbied for new laws that allow the project to be duplicated at other Florida schools by exempting schools that produce up to 1,000 gallons from reporting and tax burdens.

Deborah Pate, class winner. Pate, a returning finalist, is a teacher at A. K. Suter Elementary in Pensacola who began the “Spread the Word” energy conservation program and incorporates National Energy Education Development curriculum into her energy and conservation lessons. Ms. Pate’s class initiated a sustainable recycling effort within the school, and then solicited donations from businesses within the community. To create awareness about National Recycling Day, a recycling contest brought in 13,000 plastic bags and 700 phone books. Ms. Pate’s class sponsored Turn off Half the Lights Day.

Pamela Krauss, teacher winner. Krauss is a high school teacher at South Plantation High School in Broward County. Ms. Krauss’s Green Waterwise project involves water conservation initiatives through harvesting and distribution of rainwater from rain barrels. Multidisciplinary curriculum was incorporated into lessons: the art class painted the barrels, physics was used in the pump design/operation, and math was used to calculate water savings. Rain water collected in barrels saves up to 52 gallons per day and helps irrigate the two gardens on campus.

Pine Jog Elementary, school winner. Pine Jog in West Palm Beach, a returning finalist, has continued to implement multiple green initiatives. The school uses technology to monitor energy and water usage, while incorporating concepts into the curriculum. All students participate in gardening, planting and restoration activities to increase their awareness and dedication for a greener school. Pine Jog participated in the International Green Cup Challenge, and won first place in the FAU Green Schools Recognition Program. The school also hosted the first green schools conference that drew 300 participants from Palm Beach and surrounding counties.

Broward County’s ‘Live Green Learn Green’, District winner. Broward County has a plan to create sustainable policies within the district. Retrofitting schools with water-saving and energy-efficient products has resulted in 42,216,261 kilowatt hours of energy saved in just one year, a seven percent reduction. New recycling policies resulted in 1,848 tons of goods that were recycled and diverted from the waste stream. The plan also includes the use of green cleaning products and anti-idling bus policies to improve air quality.

“Truly an incredible effort is taking place in our classrooms and schools across Florida,” Center said. “It’s phenomenal.”

2009 Awards

 

DEP Secretary Sole Announces Five Winners for Governor’s Serve to Preserve:
Green Schools Awards Winners recognized for environmental excellence in education –
TAMPA – Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael W. Sole tonight announced the five winners for the Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards program in Tampa. The winners represented schools from throughout Florida including: Pasco, Monroe, Brevard and Broward counties. Pasco County was honored in both the district and student categories.
“The efforts of all of those involved in the first year of the Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards have been tremendous,” said Governor Charlie Crist. “All of the winners demonstrated amazing leadership, creativity and commitment to protecting our natural resources.”
The awards program, which was announced by Governor Crist on Earth Day, recognizes the efforts of creating healthy, efficient and productive places for learning. Three finalists were selected in each of the five categories including: student, classroom, teacher, school and school district. The Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards is a partnership between DEP, Florida Department of Education, Volunteer Florida Foundation, Collins Center for Public Policy’s Sustainable Florida Program and the Florida Association of School Administrators. Eligible projects were categorized in four themes: green learning environments including indoor and outdoor facilities, exemplary green curriculum or teacher professional development programs, green service learning projects and green policies or partnerships.
“As Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, it always gives me great pleasure when I see actions taken that help to preserve our natural resources,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. “But it is even better when I see students and educators making efforts that inspire others and make a difference for the future. It is an honor to take a moment to recognize and laud these achievements.”
The awards event recognized not only the five winners, but all of the 15 finalists recently announced by Governor Crist. Each of the five winners received a $1,500 cash award and finalists received $500.
“I am amazed at the amount of support we’ve received from not only the school districts but also the teachers across Florida,” said Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “While this is the first year for the Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards, I look forward to seeing the initiatives developed by the finalists and winners implemented throughout the state.”
More than 125 applications were received. The total cumulative impact of the projects implemented from all the applicants saved more than 25,000 gallons of water — enough to fill 638 bathtubs, nearly two million kilowatt-hours of electricity — which would power 213 homes for an entire year, and nearly $240,000.
“These awards spotlight the tremendous efforts of students, teachers and schools, and Progress Energy is proud to be a supporting sponsor,” said Vincent M. Dolan, president and chief executive officer of Progress Energy Florida. “Alternative and ‘green’ energy sources hold great promise, and we are investing in the minds that will help shape our energy future.”
The awards are made possible through the generous support of presenting sponsor Progress Energy, education sponsor Florida Department of Lottery, supporting sponsors Publix Super Markets and Darden, as well as in-kind sponsor Comcast Cable.
The five award winners are:
Student Award: Matt Mooney is a junior in the International Baccalaureate program at Land O’ Lakes High School. With nearly $12,000 in proceeds earned from recycling more than 782,000 aluminum cans, Matt joined the Cans for Habitat program as a Recycling Team Leader to help build a home for a family through the East Pasco Habitat for Humanity. His ultimate goal is to collect the 4.2 million cans necessary to pay for building an entire home.
Class Award: Joshua Clearman is a science teacher at Key West High School. Mr. Clearman and his class created the Alternative Energy Center to help students adopt emerging green technology. Mr. Clearman’s class produced biodiesel on a small scale and even had a car donated by a member of the community to use as a test model for biodiesel. With a small amount of funding, Mr. Clearman divided the students into groups – mechanic, research, public relations, artistic and facilitators to take their project to the next level.
Teacher Award: Allan Phipps is a magnet instructor at South Plantation High School in Plantation. Mr. Phipps, through his Solar & Alternative Energies project, has led his students to create two solar race cars that have competed at national levels. By engaging students in the building of solar cars that they can then race, they have set their sights on a goal. Mr. Phipps and his students have participated in more than 40 events in the past three years to reach out to people in the community about alternative energies.
School Award: Odyssey Charter School in Palm Bay is a green school of service learning. The school features natural daylight captured indirectly with large windows and clerestories in each classroom. Superior indoor air quality is achieved by bringing in fresh air which is dehumidified and purified through a filtering system. The school’s Healthy Café offers daily fresh fruits and vegetables, while the Farm-to-School program uses locally picked organic produce in its school lunches. Students learn to care for the earth and people through Service Learning projects – students compost, donate leftovers to the Daily Bread for the homeless, perform school and beach cleanups, and recycle paper, print cartridges and bottles.
District Award: Pasco County School District has taken an active effort in the promotion of environmental stewardship through its conservation awareness program, and its hands-on approach to learning about and protecting the environment. Through its “Raising Awareness for Conservation” project, the District promotes environmental stewardship by promoting sustainable resources, lowering facility operating costs and providing environmental education for students. One way is through the “Cleaning for Health” program which encourages employees to use less aggressive chemicals, low-moisture cleaning methods and green cleaning processes. The District also implements environmental education programs that include classroom curricula and field activities in a network of interconnected environmental education centers.
Judging for the awards was coordinated by the Collins Center for Public Policy’s Sustainable Florida Program, with headquarters in Tallahassee and Miami.
View detailed information on all 15 finalists’ entries. For more information on the Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards, visit http://www.myfloridaclimate.com/.