At the top of their class: Shining a light on 2016 Best of Green Schools honorees

Published on: 
1 Apr 2016
Amanda Sawit

The Best of Green Schools awards were announced yesterday at the opening plenary of the Green Schools Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a culmination of thoughtful planning, investment, collaboration and development efforts on the part of thousands of leaders, students and volunteers in the green schools movement. 

This is the first year that the awards were co-presented by the Green Schools National Network and the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. It is an opportunity to shine a light on those who have truly exemplified what it means to be a green schools champion. The announcement also marks an exciting end to a huge month for the green schools movement, which recently saw the release of the State of Our Schools: American’s K-12 Facilities report, an in-depth analysis of funding for U.S. public school infrastructure. 

“This year’s honorees are making huge strides in their schools and communities,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools. “Each ‘Best of’ designee is an inspiring example of innovation and passion in pursuit of schools that educate a generation of sustainability natives, students prepared to take the lead in the 21st century. Becoming a green school is a journey, not a destination; through their work, all of our honorees are blazing new trails in this movement to transform all schools into healthy, safe and inspired places for learning.” 

The Best of Green Schools recognizes the people, schools, campuses and organizations instigating positive change to the status quo by creating healthier, sustainable and more efficient learning environments, as well as inspiring educational experiences. 

“Each of the Best of Green Schools honorees plays an essential role in propelling the green schools movement forward and setting excellent examples of how to transform schools into healthy learning environments,” says Jennifer Seydel, executive director, Green Schools National Network. “As our movement advances, having such exemplary mentors and role models across the country will help us improve our work and drive our mission.” 

The 2016 honorees go beyond modeling sustainable practices and have made green schools a part of their platform and legacy. Their efforts include amplifying students’ role in the green schools movement; serving as conduits for collaboration and facilitating partnerships between businesses, school districts and local agencies; and developing and implementing plans to improve eco-literacy, building performance, and health and well-being, among others. All embody the good that can come from a holistic approach to sustainability that focuses on balancing people, planet and prosperity. 

  • Ambassador: Deborah Moore, Green Schools Initiative 
  • Business Leadership: Pauline Souza, WRNS Studio Partner and Director of Sustainability 
  • Collaborator: Space to Grow: Greening Chicago Schoolyards 
  • Higher Education Partner: Wings of Hope Environmental Education Program at Florida Gulf Coast University 
  • K–12 School: Environmental Charter Schools 
  • Moment for the Movement (tie): Green Schools Alliance District Collaborative 
  • Moment for the Movement (tie): Research Summit on Childhood Health and School Buildings 
  • Policymaker: Representative Chris Lee, Hawaii 
  • School System: Fayette County Public Schools  
  • Student Leadership: Hammond Junior High Magnet School 
  • Transformation: USGBC Louisiana Green Schools Initiative 

See more about each 2016 recipient