October 1, 2019
Director of the Campaign for Environmental Literacy James L. Elder and Manager of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, Phoebe Beierle joined Assistant U.S. Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan and Acting Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Neil A. Jacobs today to congratulate Graham Local Schools on their achievements at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
Graham Local Schools in Champaign County, Ohio was nominated by the Ohio Department of Education. Graham began its green journey some 15 years ago, when it implemented the first of multiple energy-savings projects. It was one of the first districts in its region to install light sensors in restrooms, and it implemented district-wide HVAC policies for energy efficiency and financial stability. Over the past 15 years, Graham also has partnered with Energy Optimizers USA and Waibel Energy Systems – to put projects in place that have yielded savings of over $550,000 in energy costs, reducing total energy use by 48 percent over six years. These projects have included lamp replacements, variable speed drives for HVAC motors and for well pumps, standardized HVAC controls across the district, and skylight installations. Graham has furthered its quest for green excellence by forming green teams lead by students across the district.
Probably the most exciting development has been students’ work on a solar array to power the middle and elementary schools. This solar array will be installed in 2019, after a yearlong study with partners at Energy Optimizers and the long-term effort of Graham students, most notably the energy team at the middle school. The students worked with partners to design and develop a solar plan that will provide 75 percent of the electrical needs at both buildings through a power purchase agreement. Upon implementation, Graham will house the very first solar-powered schools in Champaign County.
Director of Operations with Graham Local Schools conveyed: “We are excited to be recognized as a National Green Ribbon School honoree for 2019. This prestigious distinction is one that could only be achieved by the dedicated teaching staff at Graham Local Schools by including green and sustainable opportunities into their curriculum. Our students at Graham have set a tremendous example of what student led initiatives can accomplish in changing not only the culture, but also operational practices of a school through teamwork and collaboration. We look forward to continuing our journey being leaders in our region and nationally through healthy, green, and sustainable initiatives and our mission of Success Today, Prepared for Tomorrow.”
At the event, 35 schools and 14 districts were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education. In addition, four colleges and universities were honored with the Post-Secondary Sustainability Award. A state education official was also recognized for his efforts to advance school sustainability in the state of Minnesota. Representatives from selectees received sustainably-crafted plaques in recognition of their achievements.
The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 28 states. The selectees include 25 public schools, including three magnet schools and two charter schools, as well as 10 nonpublic schools. Over a third of the 2019 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.
View the list of all selected schools and districts and summaries of each of the 53 honorees. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to meet the criteria for the award can be found here.