Lanier Middle School Named Green Ribbon School by U.S. Department of Education

News Release
May 17, 2018

Lanier Middle School has been named a 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honoree.  Nominated by the Virginia Department of Education, Lanier is one of 46 schools, six districts, and six postsecondary institutions honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact, improve health and wellness, and establish sustainability education.  Lanier Middle School is a Fairfax County public school.


Lanier began its efforts to reduce its environmental impact during a renovation, which was completed in 2008.  The resulting facility, funded by the City of Fairfax School Board, featured increased insulation, automatic water shut-offs, motion sensor lights, temperature controls in unoccupied areas, tinted windows with low-E glass on sunny exposure and thermally broken frames, high-efficiency lighting ballasts, and an “Economiser” on rooftop units. The school earned an Energy Star certification in 2015 and has saved more than $58,000 on energy costs from its energy conservation program. Lanier is currently phasing in Green Seal cleaning products and training and certifying staff members in green cleaning practices in an effort to further improve indoor air quality.


As a member of the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Eco-Schools USA Program, the school established an eco-team of students, staff members, parents, and community members to focus on environmental issues.  Team members encourage energy, water, and paper conservation; recycling; and school grounds enhancement that considers sustainability issues. Lanier was the first school in Virginia and the third school nationally to earn the Green Flag award from the Eco-Schools USA program.


In the classroom, the school encourages digital submissions of work to reduce paper waste and offers online textbooks.  The school courtyard was converted into an Outdoor Living Classroom, now an NWF certified wildlife habitat that includes various ecosystems, a vernal pool, a vegetable garden, and a dry bed stream, fully maintained by the eco-team. All grade levels use the Outdoor Living Classroom for learning and environmental stewardship. Seventh graders participate in a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience, testing the water quality in a local stream, learning about topography, biodiversity, and ecology.  They follow up with a school watershed walk to identify runoff, erosion, and positive environmental practices, as well as identifying areas for improvement.  Projects have included building a bioretention cell and rain gardens; installing rain barrels, creating a vernal pool, installing water bottle refilling fountains,  implementing a schoolwide recycling program, donating unused cafeteria food to a local food shelter, and installing a hybrid solar panel-wind turbine unit.


Environmental sustainability is also used as a focus for projects in art, Family and Consumer Sciences, physical science, and the school newspaper.  In 2006, Lanier became the first middle school in Fairfax County to require all seventh graders to participate in an environmental stewardship project, which became the model for other Fairfax County Public Schools middle schools.


The school supports a number of health and wellness activities, including Walk to School and Bike to School Days, educating students about growing and eating healthy food, teams that participate in fitness activities, and initiatives to support mental health and a positive school climate.


More information is available online.


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For more information, contact Faiza Alam at falam@fcps.edu.