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Center for Green Schools Salutes the Best of 2013

Dec. 18, 2013
Schools, individuals and organizations are singled out for their roles in promoting learning spaces that are more environmentally friendly.

Lady Byrd Johnson Middle School in Irving, Texas, was chosen as the best green school among K-12 campuses, the Center for Green Schools says.

The center compiled the Best of Green Schools 2013 to highlight schools, individuals and communities working to support healthful, high-performing learning places.

"This list represents exemplary leadership from schools, campuses, students, policy makers and more who are raising the bar when it comes to creating healthy, safe and resource-efficient schools,” says Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools.

At the higher education level, Emory University in Atlanta was recognized for its sustainability efforts.

Lady Bird Johnson Middle School was recognized for its achievement as the largest net-zero educational facility in the country and the first in Texas, the center says. Geothermal heating and cooling, passive solar interior daylighting, an efficient building envelope, a high-efficiency kitchen and advanced controls systems enable the campus to reduce energy consumption by more than 50 percent compared with a traditionally designed school.

Solar panels provide most of the energy needed to operate the building and over the course of the year produce enough power to equal the energy consumed. The campus is used a teaching tool for the Irving school district. It has received a LEED gold rating.

Emory University was recognized for its commitment to sustainability—it claims one of the first LEED-EB Gold buildings in the United States, Goizueta Business School, and the first LEED Certified building in the Southeast, Whitehead Biomedical Research Building. All new construction on campus is required to seek at least LEED Silver certification, and many existing buildings are being retrofitted to become more environmentally friendly.

Other notable green achievements: Emory’s Piedmont Project, an annual workshop for faculty and graduate students, has become a national model for teaching faculty how to incorporate sustainability into the classroom, the center says. The university’s bus fleet is 100 percent powered by a biodiesel blend made with used cooking oil from campus cafeterias. By 2015, Emory will be serving 75 percent local or sustainable ingredients in campus and hospital cafeterias.

Other people or organizations include by the Center for Green Schools on the 2013 list of the Best of Green Schools:

  • Celebrate Sustainability, a partnership between Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va., and Sustainable Blacksburg, was cited for Best Collaboration. Every year, the center says, the three organizations stage a week's worth of events that recognize the sustainability achievements of the school and the town.
  • The Green Schools Academy program was recognized as Best Transformation. The program, led by Jenna Cramer, vice president of green schools for the Green Building Alliance, brings together private, public, parochial and charter schools to work toward a culture of sustainability and transformation.
  • The Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council in Fayette County, Ky., was honored for Best Student Leadership. The council, made up of students from all county high schools, works on collaborative environmental outreach projects, and seeks partnership and post-secondary opportunities in all areas of sustainability, the center says.
  • The Green Apple Day of Service at Duckett’s Lane Elementary School in Elkridge, Md., was cited for Best Community Event. The school staged a student-led scavenger hunt for environmental features in and around the new school. Stations were set up to demonstrate how the building and site are teaching tools for the environmental literacy curriculum.
  • Lori Braunstein, director for Green Schools at the Delaware Valley Green Building Council in Philadelphia, was selected as Best Ambassador. She has developed a comprehensive strategy for engaging and supporting teachers, students, facilities managers and administrators in schools, the center says.
  • Colorado State Sen. Andy Kerr was recognized as Best Policy Maker. Kerr helped bring about passage of legislation in Colorado that requires all school districts in the state to build new schools or to reconstruct schools to the highest possible energy efficiency.
  • The Clean Energy and Jobs Act, also known as California Proposition 39, was cited as Best Moment for the Movement. The act calls for California to spend $2.5 billion dollars over the next five years on energy-efficiency projects and repairs to promote healthful, high-performing schools.
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been honored for Best Business Leadership. The published of textbooks and other education materials has joined the Center for Green Schools as a Green Apple partner to raise awareness about sustainable school environments.

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