Pathways to Green Schools
Promoting Green and Sustainable Schools in Pennsylvania
in Pennsylvania can start on the path towards a more green and sustainable future. Whether a school district is considering a
renovation or construction project, reviewing operations and maintenance
practices, planting a school garden, or updating curriculum, there is an
opportunity to make our schools more cost-efficient, environmentally friendly
and healthier places of learning.
Pennsylvania is a partner with the US Department of Education Green
Ribbon Schools program to recognize US Department of Education Green Ribbon
Schools, District Sustainability Awards, and Postsecondary Sustainability
Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Program
The aim of
the US Department of Education Green
Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS)
is to inspire schools, districts and institutions of higher education to strive
for 21st century excellence, by highlighting promising practices and resources
that all can employ. To that end, the award recognizes schools, districts, and
institutions of higher education that:
- Reduce environmental impact and costs;
- Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff, and;
- Provide environmental education, which teaches many disciplines, and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways.
progress in ALL three of these areas, collectively known as Pillars, serves as
the basis for recognition. Each Pillar is divided into Elements, which provide
further guidance on each of the three main areas. ED-GRS align with the Department's
cross-cutting goals for education, including improving student, staff, and
facility performance and increasing efficiency.
At the postsecondary level, these Pillars help to support the goals of
reduced college costs, increased completion rates, higher rates of employment,
and robust civic skills among graduates. The recognition award is to identify
and communicate practices that result in improved student engagement, academic
achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness; and reinforces
federal efforts to increase energy independence and economic security.
resource efficient schools, districts, and institutions of higher education
allows administrators to dedicate more resources to instruction rather than
operational costs. Healthy schools and wellness practices ensure that all
students learn in an environment conducive to achieving their full potential,
free of the health disparities that can aggravate achievement gaps.
Sustainability education helps all students engage in hands-on learning, hone
critical thinking and collaboration skills, learn many disciplines, and develop
a solid foundation in STEM subjects. It motivates postsecondary students in
many disciplines, and especially those underserved in STEM subjects, to persist
and graduate with sought after degrees and robust civic skills.
is permitted to nominate as many as five Pre-K-12 schools or district to the
Additionally, Pennsylvania may nominate one institution of higher education for progress in all
three Pillars. All
schools, school districts, colleges, and universities, must meet college and
career ready standards, be in compliance with federal civil rights laws, and
comply with all federal, state, and local health and safety standards and
regulations. From the schools,
districts, and institutions of higher education nominated by Pennsylvania, the
USDE will announce all awardees in the spring of each year.
Eligibility requirements by ED-GRS can be located on US
Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools website.
teaming with Eco-Schools USA to develop different levels of
sustainability in Pennsylvania's schools.
The levels will be determined at a later date. The current levels of sustainability recognized
by PDE are as follows:
- Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) – Schools and institutions that have been recognized by USDE as Green Ribbon Schools
- State Finalists – Schools and institutions that have been recognized for attaining high levels of sustainability at the state level and will be considered for the USDE Green Ribbon School award
- Nominated Schools – Schools and institutions that have applied for ED-GRS
will provide you with information to attain ED-GRS status and provide high
level facilities and programs for students, staff, and community. We encourage you to begin the pathway to
becoming a US Department of Education Green Ribbon School.
following individual for more information:
Tamara E. Peffer: firstname.lastname@example.org