State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson nominated Redding School of the Arts this week to compete in the second year of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Awards.
Redding School of the Arts, renowned as the first campus worldwide to be certified LEED for Schools 2009 Platinum, was noted for “raising the bar for innovative and sustainable design”.
RSA’s design includes solar power generation, solar water heaters, and a wind turbine; 58 percent of the school’s energy is obtained from on-site renewable sources.
RSA is a pilot school for CalEPA’s Education and the Environment Initiative curriculum and received a 2012 Design Excellence Award from the American Institute of Architects for innovation in design blending indoor and outdoor learning spaces.
An underground water storage tank reroutes rainwater harvested from the roof structure to provide 100 percent of the ground’s irrigation.
When the U.S. Department of Education announced in 2011 the creation of the Green Ribbon Schools program, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “Preparing our children to be good environmental citizens is some of the most important work any of us can do. Environmental literacy is an important part of a well-rounded, world class education.”
James Theimer, owner of Trilogy Achitecture, Urban Design and Research in Redding, and architect for RSA, said,” It’s important to understand that this honor is more about the school than the school building. With its vision for education, high quality of teachers and far-reaching curriculum, Redding School of the Arts was a great school long before this new campus was constructed. It is a testament to the school that they so fully embraced this ultra-green building as an opportunity to greatly expand their existing environmental curriculum.”
Theimer said RSA’s campus was designed as a tool for teaching green, with non-toxic cleaning supplies, bicycle-riding, and chickens all part of the equation.
“Walking through the school on any given day, you can see for yourself that both the teachers and students have figured out the ‘green’ answer,” Theimer said.
Redding School of the Arts joins the following other four California schools nominated for the Green Ribbon award: Charles Evans Hughes Middle School of Long Beach, Journey School of Aliso Viejo, Prospect Sierra School of El Cerrito, and Ventura County’s Oak Park Unified School District.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Torlakson said of all the nominees, “These outstanding schools are proof that every school day can provide teachable moments about protecting and sustaining our environment. As a science teacher myself, I’m thrilled to see how these schools are taking what we know about good environmental practices and putting them to work right on campus.”
Torlakson announced the nominees at a news conference on the campus of Hughes Middle School, where representatives for each of the other nominees were also invited to take part in the event.
California is one of 39 states, the District of Columbia, and the Bureau of Indian Education expected to nominate schools and/or a district for the federal recognition. Each participating state can nominate one district and up to four schools, one of which must be a private school. One must also be a school with at least 40 percent of its students eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch.
California’s participation in the program is a key recommendation of Torlakson’s Schools of the Future Task Force. The group brought together educational, environmental, business, and community leaders to encourage the use of renewable energy sources and other sound environmental practices at schools across California.
The California Department of Education reviewed each application for the program based on schools’ demonstrated progress toward reaching the goals of the U.S. Department of Education’s Three Green Ribbon School Pillars: Pillar I: Reduce environmental impact and costs; Pillar II: Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and Pillar III: Provide effective environmental and sustainability literacy, incorporating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education (STEM), civic skills, and green career pathways.
The Green Ribbon Schools program aims to encourage schools to improve their energy efficiency, create healthy environments for students and staff, and enhance their work to effectively prepare graduates for 21st century careers. It honors schools that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and providing effective environmental and sustainability education, which incorporates STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways.
This is the second year of the recognition program, and awardees are expected to be named on April 22, which is Earth Day.
Details on each California nominee are below. For more information, please visit the California Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Award Program Web page or Torlakson’s initiative at Schools of the Future.
Redding School of the Arts, designed
2011 Beyond Green First Place Award
2012 AIA CAE Design Excellence Award
2012 Learning By Design Grand Prize
2012 School Collabetition Silver Award
2012 American School & University Magazine Citation
2012 LEED Platinum Certification
2012 Engineering News-Record California Best Green Projects Award of Merit
-from press release