Chicago-Area School, District and University Named Recipients of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Honors

By: U.S. Department of Education

Award announced on Earth Day, recognizing efforts to reduce environmental impact and energy costs, improve health and wellness, offer effective sustainability education

The U.S. Department of Education on Earth Day announced the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.

In the greater Chicago area, Urban Prairie Waldorf School in Chicago was named a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School. Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove was recognized as a District Sustainability Awardee. And, Northwestern University in Evanston was honored as a Postsecondary Sustainability Awardee. 

Across the country, 27 schools, five districts, and four postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

In addition, one state education official is annually recognized. This year, it is Jon Long with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, who is being saluted for his efforts to advance school sustainability.

“This year’s U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools honorees have raised the bar for sustainability, healthy and safe school environments, and hands-on learning experiences that connect students of all ages to the world around them,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “As we recover from a pandemic that highlighted the need to modernize school infrastructure, improve ventilation, and create versatile indoor and outdoor learning spaces, we have an opportunity to invest in sustainable practices that enhance student learning, health, and well-being. At the Department of Education, I’m proud that we’re proposing to establish a new Office of Infrastructure and Sustainability to support state and local leaders on these efforts, and that we have named a Special Advisor to this vital work.”

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 19 states. The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 36 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.

To advance sustainable schools throughout the nation, the Administration’s Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure includes investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and American Rescue Plan (ARP), such as a $500 million grant program to improve the energy efficiency of school facilities; a $5 billion Clean School Bus Program to support electric school bus acquisition; and funding for lead in water testing and remediation.

In addition, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program and State and Local Fiscal Recovery funds have provided over $470 billion to states and districts to help schools stay open, including through improvements to building systems that reduce energy costs and support healthy environments, as well as by providing engaging outdoor classroom spaces.

Most recently, ED proposed an Office of Infrastructure and Sustainability and a National Clearinghouse on School Infrastructure and Sustainability as part of the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request to support schools in creating safe, healthy, and sustainable 21st century learning environments.