On May 4, the U.S. Department of Education announced the recipients of the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), an awards program that acknowledges a deep commitment to sustainable practices among the nation’s leading schools, districts and institutions of higher education.
A total of 63 honorees—including 45 schools, nine post-secondary institutions and nine school districts—received the prestigious award for their demonstrated leadership across three pillars:
- Reduced environmental impact and costs
- Improved health and wellness
- Effective environmental and sustainability education
Now in its sixth year, the program has honored 340 schools, 56 districts and 34 post secondary institutions. One of this year’s honorees, Sandia Vista Elementary from Rio Rancho Public Schools, is the only school from New Mexico, and only the second school in the state to ever earn a Green Ribbon.
The LEED Silver Sandia Vista Elementary School enrolls nearly 630 students, about 150 of whom are in the district's preschool and elementary Montessori program. The school's comprehensive sustainability-related programs encompass both energy-saving and environmentally responsible programs and strategies to improve student and staff health and wellness and to establish lifelong healthy habits. The school has also incorporated curriculum that teaches students the fundamentals of environmental science and stewardship.
As part of this significant recognition program within the green schools movement, recipients of this year’s award model best practices for educating and inspiring the next generation of 21st century citizens. Showing the breadth of the green schools movement, 44 percent of this year’s awardees serve under-resourced communities, and 14 percent are located in rural areas. Charter, non-public and magnet schools are included, as well as career, technical and community colleges.
USGBC New Mexico congratulates Sandia Vista Elementary School on this accomplishment, and encourages other schools and institutes of higher education to emulate the school’s efforts in promoting the health and well-being of children and teachers in New Mexico.