For Immediate Release - September 27, 2013

Patrick Administration Hosts Green Ribbon Schools Conference

School leaders and teachers from across the Commonwealth discuss sustainability in education

GARDNER – September 27, 2013 – Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia today kicked-off the Massachusetts Green Ribbon Schools Conference at Mt. Wachusett Community College. The conference, aimed at mentoring schools on how to apply for nomination to the federal Green Ribbon School recognition program, invited Massachusetts educators to discuss sustainable practices in the classroom.

More than 60 educators from 15 schools throughout Massachusetts attended the conference. The Patrick Administration recently invited schools across the Commonwealth to apply to compete in the federal recognition award, honoring the nation’s highest performing green schools.

Previous awardees from Acton-Boxborough Public Schools/Acton Boxborough Regional High School and Manchester Essex Regional Middle High School were on site to mentor schools interested in applying to the program for the first time. Massachusetts participated in the program for the first time in 2012-2013. In addition to the previous awardees in attendance, USED awarded Green Ribbon Honors to the Berkshire School in Sheffield and Quincy High School. USED officials visited Massachusetts to recognize the Commonwealth’s awardees this summer.

Massachusetts Green Ribbon Schools Conference
Commissioner Sylvia speaks to attendees at the Massachusetts Green Ribbon Schools Conference about the importance of sustainability in education.

“By participating in this conference, educators are sending a clear message that they are committed to educating for the future,” said Commissioner Sylvia. “The Patrick Administration supports sustainable education in the classroom to prepare our students to lead their generation in reducing energy use, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and exploring other innovative ways to protect our environment and public health.”

Schools/school districts with representatives in attendance included:

• Hingham High School
• Littleton Public Schools
• Boston Public Schools- Boston Green Academy
• Nashoba Regional High School (Bolton)
• Bromfield School (Harvard)
• Sudbury Public Schools
• Manchester-Essex High School
• Narragansett Regional Schools
• Ipswich Elementary
• Walpole Public School District
• Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational School District (Upton)
• Captain Samuel Brown School (Peabody)
• Mendon-Upton Regional School District
• Leominster Public School District
• Somerville Public Schools

Launched by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) in 2011, the Green Ribbon Schools recognition honors schools that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs, improving the health and wellness of students and staff, and delivering effective environmental and sustainability education that incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), civic skills and green career pathways.

“The Green Ribbon Schools award is another example of Massachusetts schools leading the way,” said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. “We know that to truly engage our students we must think creatively to bring classroom lessons to life. It is encouraging to see teachers incorporating sustainable practices with 21st century skills into their lessons to prepare our students for success after high school.”

“Green schools play a key role in creating healthy and sustainable environments for students and staff, while also promoting an engaging STEM curriculum to increase performance,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester.

Massachusetts may nominate up to four individual schools for the Green Ribbon School recognition by February 1, 2014. If the Commonwealth chooses to nominate more than one public school, at least one school must have at least 40 percent disadvantaged students. If the Commonwealth nominates four schools, one of the four – but not more than one – must be a private school. In addition, Massachusetts may nominate one regional school district for Green Ribbon Schools recognition.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), with assistance from the multi-agency working group, will review all applications and make nominations to USED.  Evaluations of applicants will be based on the three “pillars” of the federal recognition program (reducing environmental impact and costs; improving health and wellness; effective environmental and sustainability education).

A multi-agency Massachusetts Green Ribbon Schools working group comprising representatives of EEA and its agencies, ESE, the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the Department of Public Health and non-governmental agencies will provide technical assistance.

An informational webinar will be held on Oct. 3. School staff, officials and students who are interested should review information available on ESE’s website at http://www.doe.mass.edu/finance/sbuilding/GreenRibbon.

USED will announce honorees on Earth Day (April 22, 2014) and invite honorees to a national recognition award ceremony in July 2014. Massachusetts winners will receive recognition at an event here in the Commonwealth as well.

The Patrick Administration’s aggressive clean energy initiatives have made Massachusetts a leader in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and emissions reductions. The Commonwealth’s utilities recently announced the largest ever procurement of renewable energy in New England – 565 megawatts of wind power – that will reduce Massachusetts’ reliance on dirty fossil fuels and provide cost-effective clean energy to the Commonwealth’s residents and businesses. This year, Governor Patrick set a new solar goal, after reaching the previous goal of 250 megawatts four years early. The Commonwealth now aims to install 1,600 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020. The clean energy revolution is yielding economic benefits as well, with 11.8 percent job growth in the last year and 24 percent growth in the last two years, nearly 80,000 people are employed in the clean tech industry in Massachusetts.