The School of Engineering and Arts in Golden Valley was one of 39 schools nationwide to receive the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Award this week.
The award recognizes the school’s efforts in reducing environmental impacts and utility costs, improving health and wellness, and ensuring effective sustainability education.
The Green Award also was given to 11 school districts and 5 postsecondary institutions nationwide. The School of Engineering and Arts belongs to the Robbinsdale Area Schools.
Twenty-seven states submitted nominees, and nearly half the winning schools serve a disadvantaged student body.
“It’s a pleasure to celebrate these bright spots of creativity and to applaud the teachers and local education leaders who have worked to create healthy, sustainable and innovative learning environments for their students,” U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement.
According to the Education Department’s website, the Golden Valley school tracks its utility consumption through an analytics program. It diverts 56% of its solid waste, and its food service uses reusable trays. Produce waste is fed to on-site animals.
Building occupants use water-bottle filling stations, and natural daylight is most often the primary source of lighting within classrooms. Approximately 95% of the school’s population walks, bikes, buses or takes carpools to school daily.
The K-5 school has worked to re-establish native plants, orchards and gardens. It doesn’t use irrigation on school grounds and focuses instead on native habitat to balance soil biology, reducing the need for water. The school grounds feature 1,600 square feet of native grasses and flowers, according to the website.
Students partner with the Minnesota Department of Nature Resources to learn forest management practices, and have worked with Hennepin County Forestry to create an orchard of 30 fruit trees on school grounds.
To promote good health, the school encourages students to walk and bike, try new fruits and vegetables at lunch and to participate in outdoor physical education events.
A school leadership group advocates health and wellness through “Jammin’ Minutes” videos on the school’s morning news broadcast. The school was awarded a $10,000 grant for the health program.