Schools across the country and around the world are working on being more sustainable. Schools are ideal locations for sustainability initiatives because such efforts provide a healthier environment for students, reduces costs and offers a powerful learning opportunity. There is evidence to support the idea that healthier physical spaces benefit students academically and contribute to cost reductions. Exposing students to working sustainability programs offers practical insights into the logistics of such programs. It is one thing to learn about sustainability but quite another to see it in action.
The Sustainable Jersey for Schools program is a stellar example. This program was founded in 2014, it recognizes public schools that aim to conserve resources and increase environmental sustainability. Each school that is certified at the bronze level or above must submit documentation to show it has completed a balanced portfolio of the program’s sustainability actions, which include energy efficiency, green design, green cleaning, innovation projects, climate mitigation and renewable energy.
As of 2020 there are a total of 969 schools and 352 school districts participating in the program. Of the 147 schools that achieved certification in 2020, 80 schools did so for the first time and 67 schools were recertified. Recently 4 schools were honored with sustainability certification by Sustainable Jersey for Schools for environmental initiatives. Raritan High School recently earned sustainability recertification and was honored with silver distinction for board leadership and planning, reduced carbon footprint, indoor air quality and energy efficiency.
This program is assisted by boards of education. One such board is the Hazlet Township Board of Education which “recognizes the importance of minimizing the district’s use of natural resources, providing a high quality environment that promotes health and productivity and the effective management of our fiscal resources.” The board collaborates with with the Superintendent of Schools, administrative staff and the district’s Green Team to enhance and improve the school district’s resource management program. This program includes strategies for implementing effective and sustainable resource practices, exploring renewable and clean energy technologies, reducing energy and minimizing utility costs, reducing the amount of waste of consumable materials, encouraging recycling and green procurement practices, and promoting conservation principles by implementation of best practices.
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Comprehensive Green School Information and Resources 2010 – 2019