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U.S. Department of Education names National Green Ribbon District and School in Georgia

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358, or Keisha Ford-Jenrette, (404) 657-2949

April 24, 2013 — The U.S. Department of Education on Monday announced the second annual Green Ribbon Schools honorees and inaugural District Sustainability Awardees. Gwinnett County Public Schools is among the 14 inaugural honorees of the District Sustainability Award and Ford Elementary (Cobb County) is among the 64 schools announced as 2013 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. The selected districts and schools are being honored for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including civics and green career pathways. 
“We are so proud that once again a Georgia school has been named a National Green Ribbon School,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge.  “We are equally proud of Gwinnett County Public Schools for being named as one of the first National Green Ribbon Districts. This goes to show that schools and districts in Georgia are striving to be more energy efficient, developing healthy living habits and providing environmental education.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan added, “The honorees are modeling a comprehensive approach to being green. They are demonstrating ways schools can simultaneously cut costs; improve health, performance and equity; and provide an education geared toward the jobs of the future. In fact, the selected districts are saving millions of dollars as a result of their greening efforts. And the great thing is that the resources these honorees are using are available for free to all schools."

Through a partnership involving the Georgia Department of Education, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, the U.S. Green Building Council of Georgia, Georgia EPD, the Clean Air Campaign, Captain Planet Foundation and the Turner Foundation, Gwinnett County Public Schools and Ford Elementary were nominated by the Georgia Department of Education. 
“We are so honored to have the state of Georgia recognized through the efforts of Gwinnett County Public Schools and Cobb County’s Ford Elementary as recipients of the 2013 National Green Ribbon Award,” said Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.  “In these challenging times, school systems across the state are embracing innovative ideas to reduce costs and focus resources on the classrooms where students learn.  I am very proud of all of Georgia’s schools that applied for the National Green Ribbon Award and continue to create a healthier learning environment for our children.”
Gwinnett County Schools and Ford Elementary will split $10,000 award prize money from the Turner Foundation, for demonstrating energy efficiency efforts.
“The Turner Foundation is proud to once again provide a $10,000 cash prize to the winners of the U.S. Department of Education's national Green Ribbon Schools Recognition Program, said Turner Foundation Trustee Laura Turner Seydel. “Both Ford Elementary and Gwinnett County Public Schools will be receiving a $5,000 grant in support of their efforts to provide green schools to Georgia students."
"We are thrilled that Ford Elementary, an exemplary example of environmental and STEM education in practice, has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Green Ribbon School,” said Leesa Carter, Executive Director of the Captain Planet Foundation. “And that Gwinnett County, who has made such an outstanding commitment and investment to reducing their energy consumption system-wide, is one of the first-ever Green Ribbon School Districts recognized!  There is impressive sustainability work happening all around Georgia in schools and school districts, and it is wonderful for them to receive such glowing recognition."
The list of Green Ribbon school selectees includes 54 public schools and 10 private schools.  The public schools include seven charter, five magnet and four career and technical schools.  The schools serve various grade levels, including 40 elementary, 23 middle and 19 high schools are among them, with several schools having various K-12 configurations, from 29 states and the District of Columbia.  Over half of the 2013 honorees serve a student body more than 40 percent of which is eligible for free and reduced price lunch.  The list of all selected schools and districts, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here.  A report with highlights on the 78 honorees can be found here.
The U.S. Department of Education is looking forward to a third year of the program, and will be publishing updated competition criteria this summer, once again working closely with participating states, who nominate both schools and districts to the federal agency.  State education agencies are encouraged to indicate their intent to nominate schools and districts within their jurisdiction in 2014 by August 1, 2013.
More information on the federal recognition award can be found here.  Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars in which the 2013 honorees are exemplary can be found here
Sitting amid more than twenty acres, Ford Elementary School in Acworth, Georgia utilizes more than 60% of the grounds for environmental education and habitat protection. Within its first year, Ford became a National Wildlife Certified Schoolyard Habitat. And for almost twenty years, Ford has been committed to protecting, restoring and sustaining its native forests and stream beds while developing outdoor learning labs.  Ford’s award winning model school for environmental education strives for relevance and resiliency while serving as a mentor to others across the state and nation.


With more than 23-million square feet of ENERGY STAR-certified areas, Gwinnet County Public Schools (GCPS) leads the nation for K–12 certified building space. These ENERGY STAR certified buildings use 35% less energy, generate 35% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and cost up to 40 cents less per square foot to operate than similar buildings across the nation. In addition, GCPS has completed several energy efficient upgrades of their facilities including: lighting retrofits in the classrooms, occupancy sensors, automated energy management systems, water source heat pumps, and variable frequency drives. As the 12th largest school district in the nation, GCPS is committed to their core mission of teaching and learning while encouraging environmental awareness and outstanding stewardship of resources.