FCPS Named 2017 Green Ribbon School District by U.S. Department of Education, Centreville ES Named Green Ribbon School
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has been named a 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awardee. The district was honored for its comprehensive Get2Green program and for achieving $10 million in energy savings during a two-year period.
The FCPS comprehensive environmental education and sustainability program has been expanded into a district-wide program, Get2Green, whose mission is to promote student learning and action across the curriculum using the environment as a foundation, aided in part through a partnership with the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) EcoSchools USA program. Initiatives in the Get2Green program are aligned with the district’s strategic plan.
Under the umbrella of the FCPS sustainability team, stakeholders—including students, employees, businesses, and members of the community—meet regularly to strengthen existing programs, develop new initiatives, expand student involvement, and provide greater community outreach. Get2Green has created competitive programs such as running divisionwide awareness campaigns, providing student internships with authentic sustainability experiences, and voluntarily engaging 150 schools in student-driven stewardship activities such as recycling and composting. Many schools have implemented the NWF Cool School Challenge, where student-conducted audits of energy use result in action plans to save energy.
FCPS provides a Get2Green website with sustainability-related dashboards that provide data on energy, recycling, and Eco-School USA progress that is used as a tool for learning, teaching, researching, and empowering change. A 2016 project with high school interns resulted in a districtwide energy conservation challenge that took place in the spring.
The Department of Facilities and Transportation Services invests one-third of every project dollar into sustainability infrastructure, such as geothermal, rainwater cisterns, LED lighting, variable refrigerant flow mechanical systems, water source heat pumps, biofilters, solar hot water heaters, highly reflective roofing, and pervious pavers. This has resulted in a savings of $10 million in energy savings in two years and an 11 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
To date, 90 Fairfax County schools are registered as EcoSchools, 12 of which have achieved the highest honor, Green Flag status. One of those schools, Centreville Elementary, was named a 2017 Green Ribbon School, for its sustainability efforts.
Centreville Elementary uses the environment as a primary vehicle for student learning, offering opportunities to solve real-world problems through creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. Students at the school are engaged in planning, constructing, using, and maintaining a wildlife habitat on school grounds that increases biodiversity, conserves water, minimizes the need for mowing, and serves as an outdoor classroom.
As part of the NWF-administered Cool School Challenge, students conduct energy, water, waste biodiversity, health, habitats, food, and transportation audits, followed by action plans based on the results. They create public service announcements and youth-oriented TED-style talks on the environment, work on outdoor education lessons to share with teachers, meet with custodians and cafeteria managers, and work with the principal to gather information and get approval for new initiatives.
Centreville Elementary has three outdoor classrooms, a walking trail, and a variety of gardens, one for each grade level. A green hour enables students to enjoy several hours of weekly outdoor education.
For more information, contact the FCPS Office of Communication and Community Relations at 571-423-1200.