"California is proud to participate in this new federal program to recognize schools with environmentally sustainable learning spaces that have boosted student performance," said Torlakson.
"Not only do green schools save districts money and energy and protect the health of students and staff, but studies also show these learning spaces actually improve academic achievement,” Torlakson continued. “This works hand-in-hand with my Schools of the Future initiative to streamline school building regulations in an effort to create jobs, green schools, and give students the opportunity to learn in modern facilities instead of relics of the past."
The U.S. Department of Education unveiled the Green Ribbon Schools award in September.
The program recognizes schools that save energy, reduce costs, feature environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protect health, foster wellness, and offer environmental education to boost academic achievement and community engagement.
The award is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about practices proven to result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness, as well as a government-wide aim to increase energy independence and economic security.
The California Department of Education has collaborated with several state agencies and interested parties since September in developing the Green Ribbon Award application.
Applicants will be judged on whether their facilities have a net zero impact on the environment, whether their green facilities have had a positive impact on the health and performance of students and staff, and whether their students are literate on the environment and sustainability.
The deadline to apply is Feb. 17.
The applicants will undergo a rigorous review, then the California Department of Education will forward up to four nominees including one private school to the U.S. Department of Education by March 22 for consideration.
The winners are expected to be announced on Earth Day, April 22.
No funding is associated with the award. However, awarded schools will serve as models to emulate around the nation.
For more information on the Green Ribbon Award and to download an application, visit the California Department of Education Web site at www.cde.ca.gov/ls/fa/sf/greenribbonprog.asp.