Inverness Associates
Supporting schools in sustainability, strategic planning, governance, and leadership mentoring.

Green Ribbon Schools Honored

On Earth Day, April 22, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced this year’s recipients of the Green Ribbon Schools award from the U.S. Department of Education.  Once again private independent schools from across the country were among those selected as exemplary green schools.

Established in 2011, the Green Ribbon Schools program recognizes schools that demonstrate best practices in sustainability as they reduce their environmental footprint, engage in healthy operations, and promote environmental literacy among their student.  This year a total of 58 schools were recognized in 27 states plus the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense.  Six private schools were recognized, including five NAIS schools: Marin Country Day School, CA; Greens Farms Academy, CT; City of Lakes Waldorf School, MN; Princeton Day School, NJ; Old Trail School, OH; and The Steward School, VA.  Over the past four years the U.S. Department of Education has recognized 262 schools overall, including 36 private schools, or 14% of the total.  There have been a total of 28 NAIS schools recognized, or 11% of the total.  Survey research by Inverness Associates has demonstrated that independent schools are among the leading green schools in part because of their mission-driven, innovative cultures often incorporate a commitment to environmental sustainability, and because they are able to devote additional resources to the effort.  States may nominate annually up to four schools, including one private school, and one district for recognition.

In California the Department of Education became one of the first in the country to join this nationwide program, and Lesley Taylor leads the annual nomination process for the state.  In collaboration with the California Association of Private School Organizations (CAPSO), the department recognizes and nominates private schools.  This year’s private school recipient of the Green Ribbon Award in California was Marin Country Day School, a K-8 school that has made a remarkable commitment to environmental education and sustainability, reflected in a newly rebuilt campus that includes several LEED certified buildings, extensive solar arrays for renewable power, multiple campus gardens, and a curriculum that integrates environmental literacy across the grades.  Previous nominees from California recognized by the U.S. Department of Education include the Athenian School, Prospect Sierra School, and San Domenico School.  Two years ago the California Department of Education added a statewide recognition program to acknowledge the accomplishments of those applicant schools with a strong green program but who were not among the state’s four nominees.  This years recipients of the California Green Ribbon Schools Award were: Besant Hill School, Gold; Bishop O’Dowd School, Gold; Center for Early Education, Gold: Ecole Bilingue, Silver; MUSE, Bronze; Pacific Ridge School, Gold; and Woodside Priory, Gold.

Information about the Green Ribbon Schools program can be found on the website of the California Department of Education ( and the U.S. Department of Education (  Question can be directed to Lesley Taylor at the California Department of Education about the overall program ( and Paul Chapman regarding private schools (