April 29, 2020

On April 22, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Delaware schools – Odyssey Charter School and Ursuline Academy – were among the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees.

In 2016, Ursuline Academy joined the Delaware Pathways to Green Schools (Pathways) program, an initiative led by Green Building United and Energize Delaware, to help fulfill their school’s mission to foster global citizens. Since then, they have worked hard to reduce the school’s energy consumption by replacing inefficient lighting with LED’s, installing water bottle filling stations to reduce plastic consumption, and providing exceptional sustainability education to students and staff. All that hard work is paying off not only by reduced utility costs and cutting climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions, but also by gaining recognition for Ursuline’s leadership in sustainability.

Meg Kane-Smith, Social Justice and World Religions teacher and Chair of the Green Committee at Ursuline Academy, remarked, “I am thrilled Ursuline has been selected as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School! I feel our school has made concerted efforts to ensure that our students have the understandings and habits for a sustainable environmental future. I am especially proud of our strong energy and consumption and waste efforts, which would not be possible without the help of partner programs like Green Building United and NWF’s Eco-Schools.  I am also happy to have met so many other people working at our area schools who are involved in promoting a greener future for our students.”

In 2017 Odyssey Charter School joined the Pathways Program to foster sustainability initiatives and to reduce energy use. In just three short years, the students and staff at Odyssey constructed outdoor food and pollinator gardens, built a coop to house chickens, planted 27 trees, and implemented an indoor hydroponic garden program. Beyond creating a nature-centered space on campus, the school community has collected and diverted over 2,000 pounds of plastic film, lobbied at Legislative Hall for a plastic bag ban, and reduced energy use by replacing lighting and aging heating systems. While the school has expanded by over 120,000 square feet of classroom space, their efficiency measures have saved the school nearly $4,000 on utility bills each month.

Under the leadership of Melissa Tracy and the Green Team staff, Odyssey students are learning hands-on about the environment and sustainability. Melissa said, “I am thrilled that Odyssey Charter School has been selected for this prestigious honor. It demonstrates our deep commitment to sustainability in our community, including staff, students, leadership, and parents. It also reflects our sincere effort to mold the next generation of global citizens.”

Across the country, 39 schools, 11 districts, and five post-secondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 27 states. The selectees include 28 public schools, including three magnet schools and four charter schools, as well as 11 nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2020 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.

Read more about the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools here.

Learn more about the Delaware Pathways to Green Schools program.

About Green Building United

Green Building United, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is committed to promoting sustainable building in Greater Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley and Delaware. Through education and advocacy, Green Building United aims to create a sustainable, healthy and resilient built environment for all. Green Building United offers it members and partners a wide variety of resources, tools and events to help them stay informed of the latest green building news and trends. For more information, visit www.greenbuildingunited.org and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.   LeAnne Harvey; 276-608-5586; lharvey@greenbuildingunited.org

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