By: Andrea Suarez Falken, Particular Advisor for Infrastructure and Sustainability, U.S. Division of Schooling.
On July 26, the U.S. Division of Schooling (ED) acknowledged 27 faculties, 5 college districts, and 4 postsecondary establishments, in addition to one state training company official, at a Washington, D.C. ceremony for his or her efforts to domesticate sustainable, wholesome services, wellness practices, and hands-on, outside, environmental studying.
By highlighting faculties’, districts’, and postsecondary establishments’ cost-saving, well being selling, and performance-enhancing sustainability and environmental training practices, ED-GRS celebrates these faculties and brings extra consideration to their work. The ceremony was a reminder of the numerous new initiatives afoot at ED, on account of a long time of nationwide advocacy and rising consciousness surrounding the inexperienced faculties motion.
The Biden Administration has taken vital steps on environmental sustainability, local weather, environmental well being, and infrastructure, and new packages have been carried out associated to sustainable faculties at different federal companies. Whereas ED will not be licensed devoted environmental training or college infrastructure packages, we have now labored to assume creatively about college sustainability, infrastructure, well being, and environmental training. Prior to now yr ED has:
- Strengthened its participation in a number of interagency efforts associated to sustainability, together with collaborating on the discharge of a White Home toolkit to assist faculties and districts entry obtainable funding, in addition to technical help alternatives and planning instruments to enhance college sustainability and environmental well being, as a part of a broader Plan for Constructing Higher Infrastructure.
- Administered the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary Faculty Emergency Aid program, which incorporates $122 billion to help a variety of pandemic response and restoration efforts, reminiscent of college enhancements to air flow and constructing vitality methods that help wholesome environments and scale back vitality prices.
- Provided steering on the late liquidation of aid funds for building functions.
- Developed company buildings to steer and coordinate on issues associated to highschool sustainability and infrastructure.
- Designated an ED worker as Particular Advisor for Infrastructure and Sustainability to assist drive public engagement, packages, coordination, and steering with consideration to those issues.
- Carried out public engagement by means of webinars, calls, and public listening classes relating to 1) environmental influence, infrastructure, and operations; 2) entire little one well being and wellness, together with environmental well being; and three) environmental, outside, local weather, and sustainability training.
- ED’s most fun efforts to advance college sustainability for all faculties — not simply the ED-GRS honorees — stem from its fiscal yr 2023 proposal for the creation of a brand new workplace and clearinghouse.
This new Workplace of Infrastructure and Sustainability would oversee a proposed Nationwide Clearinghouse on Faculty Infrastructure and Sustainability and administer the continuing ED-GRS recognition award. The workplace would supply capability to have interaction with multi-agency efforts, training stakeholders, states, and districts. Whereas, prior to now, this work was undertaken in an off-the-cuff and voluntary method, the workplace would institutionalize an ED construction to advise on issues associated to local weather, sustainability, atmosphere, and infrastructure and lead coordination, outreach, and interagency collaboration. The clearinghouse would supply technical help and coaching to state and native training companies on points associated to academic facility planning, design, financing, building, enchancment, operation, and upkeep, together with inexperienced constructing design and operation practices in step with the Administration’s dedication to handle local weather change.
All of this, after all, is along with the implementation of our ED-GRS award for college sustainability designed to highlight helpful and revolutionary practices. To be taught extra about this yr’s U.S. Division of Schooling Inexperienced Ribbon Faculties, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees, go to the web site and annual Highlights Report. You may additionally subscribe to the ED-GRS publication and comply with these efforts on Fb and Twitter.
Know that, underneath the steering of the Biden Administration, ED is reviewing each obtainable device to prioritize equitable entry to wholesome, secure, sustainable, resilient, 21st century studying environments and sustainability studying that equips college students to face the challenges of the longer term. We stay up for recognizing extra faculties and districts for his or her sustainability efforts within the years to come back. Bear in mind: Faculties should be nominated to obtain the ED-GRS award. Make sure to attain out to your state training authorities in case you are doing work in all three award Pillars!