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logo of US department of education green ribbon schoolsOn Monday, June 3, a national ceremony was held in Washington, D.C. to honor sixty-four U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) and fourteen recipients of the first-ever District Sustainability Award.

This year marks the first time that Massachusetts has participated in the program. Among the honorees were three of our own schools: Manchester Essex Regional Middle High School, Quincy High School, and the Berkshire School in Sheffield. The Acton Public Schools and Acton-Boxborough Regional School District also received one of the 14 awards for successful district-wide environmental awareness initiatives.

The U.S. Department of Education allows each state to nominate four schools and a district. The nominees receive national recognition because they successfully:

  • Reduced environmental impacts and costs
  • Improved the health and wellness of the school’s environment
  • Provided environmental and sustainability education
chart describing U.S. Department of Education Three Pillars

U.S. Department of Education Three Pillars (click image for more information)

In total, Massachusetts received applications from thirteen different schools and selected the nominees based on their levels of achievement in these three areas, collectively known as “Pillars.” Each nominee is then reviewed for eligibility by ED-GRS. It is especially noteworthy that the Acton-Boxborough schools were honored for the District Sustainability Award. Being able to successfully incorporate the three pillars into any one school’s education curriculum is an achievement in itself. Acton-Boxborough not only accomplished this, but did so on a notably larger scale; there are a total of nine different schools within the district that were collectively recognized for their efforts towards sustainability.

The program connects schools with existing resources and standards in order to achieve current national goals of economic health and stability. Students and teachers are given the incentive to engage with surrounding environments, utilize technologies that are available to them and implement cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. The enhancements to school facilities reduce energy consumption and are long-term investments towards saving our natural resources – both of which are crucial factors for a sustainable culture.

ED-GRS also prepares students to participate in the expanding “green” economy by teaching the importance of renewable energy and environmental protection. For these reasons, ED-GRS is seen as an educational way to strengthen our nation’s energy security for years to come. Students gain awareness from the experience because ED-GRS fosters health, wellness and productivity through a well-rounded, engaging experience.

Cleaner energy has become an important part of the Commonwealth’s future. Click to learn more about Massachusetts’ clean energy education resources for K-12 teachers and how your child’s school can incorporate the Three Pillars.

Written By:


Samantha Randall is an intern this summer for DOER’s Marketing and Stakeholder Engagement team. She is a recent graduate from the University of Maine. Samantha majored in Communication, with a double minor in Renewable Energy Policy and Economics. She is also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and has a strong passion for environmental issues. Outside of the office, Samantha enjoys photography, writing, painting and following the local political ins and outs of her hometown, Kingston, Mass.

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