Center for Green Schools Honors Sustainability Leaders

WASHINGTON — The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Center for Green Schools, based in Washington, honored a number of projects, institutions and individuals in December with Best of Green Schools awards. The award program honors sustainability leaders and innovators working to create healthy, high-performing learning places across the educational spectrum.

“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, while 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 Monarch School, a Houston-based LEED Gold school, was honored in the K-12 category. The institution provides therapeutic education to students with neurological differences, such as autism spectrum disorder, hyperactivity, mood disorders and traumatic brain injuries, and integrates a number of green initiatives into its tailored curriculum.

Since 1997, The Monarch School’s environmental education program has offered students with special needs an opportunity to learn about the environment. The school’s Living Building Challenge (LBC) Studio Classroom was the first project in the state built to meet LBC requirements, and remains one of only five on the globe. The studio serves as an outdoor living classroom where students’ day-to-day interactive decision-making helps the building achieve net-zero energy and water performance, according to the Center for Green Schools. The school’s environmental programming also includes initiatives related to solar energy, wind power and geothermal energy, and incorporates active water harvesting.

Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo was honored in the higher education category for its recycling, energy conservation and waste reduction efforts, and for facilitating cooperative research into green manufacturing practices. Click here to read more about Western Michigan University’s green programming.

The University of Buffalo and the State University of New York, both located in Buffalo, also received an award for their collaborative efforts to educate the local community about green practices. The two universities planned and facilitated three region-wide environmental congress events to create Our Shared Agenda for Action, a blueprint for action on regional environmental issues. These events also inspired the creation of an environmental alliance that now includes more than 100 environmental organizations working in the areas of energy and climate change, transportation, food, habitat, environmental justice, parks and recreation, urban regeneration, and waste and pollution.

A complete list of winners in all categories can be found on the USGBC Center for Green Schools website.