Connecticut Green LEAF Schools

A Project to Research, Identify and Promote Sustainability in the State's Schools

The Connecticut Green LEAF Schools program guides and recognizes schools for striving to provide effective environmental and sustainability education; to improve the health and wellness of students and staff; and to reduce environmental impacts and costs. Visit the Connecticut Green LEAF Schools program website to learn more.

Connecticut Green LEAF Schools

GreenLEAF Logo

The Connecticut Green LEAF Schools program guides and recognizes schools for striving to provide effective environmental and sustainability education; to improve the health and wellness of students and staff; and to reduce environmental impacts and costs.

Academic Benefits

Environmental education contributes to overall academic achievement and higher performance on standardized tests when it is integrated into the curriculum. Students learn more effectively within a real-world, experiential-based context combined with traditional textbook-based approaches. The inquiry-based approach, with students learning about environment, sustainability and how their communities function, helps prepare students for future careers.

Health Benefits

Going green offers many health benefits for students and staff, including improved nutrition and physical health. Focus on healthy eating, physical activity and healthy environments pays off in decreased obesity, asthma and other illnesses while increasing attendance.

Reduced Costs

Green schools are energy efficient, have lower utility costs, conserve resources and reduce waste. Savings on energy, waste and water is money that can bolster academic programs.

Download the Connecticut Green LEAF Schools Brochure.

For questions about the Connecticut Green LEAF program contact ctgreenleaf@ctgreenschools.org.


Application

CT Green LEAF is an ongoing program, with opportunities for continuous improvement. All K-12 schools in Connecticut are eligible to participate. All participating schools will be recognized.

Every school is unique and starts at a different level. CT Green LEAF can help all schools on their journey to becoming green with the following levels:

  • Planting Seeds (level 1): For schools assessing their baselines and developing green plans. This level lays the foundation for a more sustainable school community in the future.
  • Growing Green (level 2): For schools that have made progress in all seven steps and qualify for CT Green LEAF School status. Exemplary schools would be eligible for federal Green Ribbon recognition.

The Application Process

Sign ups start in September 2012. Schools can join at anytime.

The application process for all schools:

  1. A school is interested in joining the CT Green LEAF Program and the principal signs on to Level 1 Principal's Commitment or Level 2 Principal's Committment.
  2. The school notifies CT Green LEAF of their commitment and initiates their green team.
  3. Within a month, the school green team completes and submits the Self-Assessment Tool (Word) (fillable PDF). If your school scores at 60-100 (or will score at this level by January 2013), you may be eligible for nomination to the Green Ribbon Award! If you score at this level, you should consider applying. If you are not quite there yet, see CT Green LEAF Resources.

    Resources and supports are provided to help schools improve in all areas, including webinars, discussion boards, mentors, and professional development opportunities. Participating agencies are sharing their expertise to help schools.

    Your green team can work together to choose areas in the 3 goals and 7 steps to work on to make the school greener. Follow the "Roadmap" step-by-step guides to the 7 steps. The greening process is continuous improvement.

If your school did score well on the Self-Assessment:

  1. The school can commit to completing the CT Green LEAF Application. Mentors are available to help you with this process! Contact ctgreenleaf@ctgreenschools.org by December 10, 2012, to connect with a mentor. Completed applications are due by January 11, 2013.
  2. The Connecticut Green LEAF team will make selections for awardees for the Connecticut Green LEAF awards, and nominees to the Green Ribbon Schools Award Program by February 15, 2012. All applicants will be notified of their status.

Connecticut Green LEAF Awardees and Nominees to Green Ribbon Schools Award will be recognized at the Connecticut Outdoor and Environmental Education Conference held on March 13, 2013, at Central Connecticut State University.

Green Ribbon Awards will be announced by the U.S. Department of Education on April 22, 2013. Awardees are invited to attend the ceremony in Washington DC on June 3, 2013.

For questions about the Connecticut Green LEAF program contact ctgreenleaf@ctgreenschools.org.


The 7 steps of the Connecticut Green LEAF Schools program include:

1. Green and Healthy Outlook

Maintain a green and healthy outlook (participation, your green team, building partnerships)

2. Environmental and Sustainability Literacy

Incorporating developmentally appropriate environmental and sustainability literacy in your curriculum.

Measure outcomes of program effectiveness and assess student learning about environmental and sustainability literacy.

Support professional development about environmental and sustainability literacy for all staff.

3. Healthy School Environment

Implement and maintain EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program.

Comply with or exceed all CT school-based environmental health laws.

4. Healthy Nutrition

Comply with nutrition standards in National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs.

Encourage healthy eating practices including vegetarian/vegan options and use of school-grown or local, organic foods. Incorporate healthy nutrition into the curriculum.

5. Physical Well-Being

Assess and promote physical health including outdoor opportunities for all students and staff. Incorporate physical health in the curriculum.

6. Energy Efficiency and Water Conservation

Complete Energy Star Benchmarking.

Reduce building energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Use of renewable energy sources. Include energy concepts into the curriculum.

Reduce energy use from transportation by encouraging walking, biking, public transportation and carpooling to/from school by students and staff.

Conserve water and ensure a clean water supply. Incorporate water issues into the curriculum.

7. Green Purchasing and Waste Management

Assess the school community's purchasing policies and adopt a green policy.

Implement a plan to measure and reduce waste. Incorporate waste management issues into the curriculum.


Forming a School Green Team

Each school is different, with unique goals and resources. You should consider including people from all levels, and from many different areas of the school in your Green Team. Think about who your "champions” are, and don't forget to place an open invitation to your school community to recruit members.

Administrators:

It is great to have someone on your team who works at or near the top! These people understand the complexities of your organization, and are in contact with those who can make changes happen. Consider including administrators from the district level if this is appropriate for your school and projects you'd like to do. These administrators might also act as consultants as needed.

Teachers:

You need to include teaching staff on your team. Your teacher representatives should be good at communicating, and be able to get project support from their peers.

Facility Staff:

This category includes janitors and custodians, as well as kitchen staff. Depending on your projects, you will need to tap knowledge in these areas to succeed in your greening efforts. These folk also have a wealth of knowledge about how the school works (or doesn't!)

Students:

No school project can succeed without including students! All projects can also be enriched by using the project as part of the curriculum. If your school has multiple grades, student representatives should come from all levels. Make sure that student voices are heard, and that your student representatives have received training on how to participate in the team conversations.

Parents/Families:

Consider including the extended school family, PTA/PTO members, or even school board in your Green Team. They have a unique view of the school and can be valuable supporters.

Communities:

Your neighborhood or town community may also add value to your Green Team activities. Your team may focus on projects that need community support. For example, your school garden project may benefit from the Garden Club, local master gardeners through your Extension Center, a local landscaper, or other community interests. Community members might act as members of your Green Team, or as consultants and partners as needed.

Next Steps

Once you have your team, it is time to start (or review) your Green LEAF Self-Assessment Tool. From there, the team can identify areas they would like to school to work on. Depending on the team's energy, you might choose a couple of initiative to start on. Check out the Roadmaps to help your plan your next steps for each topic area.

As your team identifies the challenges they want to work on, be sure to look for partners to help with that work — maybe recruiting a grade level to estimate or measure trash and provide that calculation to the team, or working with the PTO on a schoolyard clean-up project. Each new partnership add workers, interest and investment in your school's greening adventure!


Green Ribbon SchoolsGRS Logo

Green Ribbon Schools is a U.S. Department of Education recognition program for K-12 schools that have made significant progress in reducing their environmental impact, improving student and staff health, and providing effective environmental education.

This recognition award is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about practices proven to result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness, as well as a government-wide aim to increase energy independence and economic security.

Nominations

Connecticut's State Department of Education can nominate up to four Green LEAF schools for the Green Ribbon Schools award.

The process for nomination includes the following steps:

  1. A school is interested in joining the CT Green LEAF Program and the principal signs on to Level 1 Principal's Commitment or Level 2 Principal's Committment.

  2. The school notifies CT Green LEAF of their commitment and initiates their green team.

  3. Within a month, the school green team completes and submits the Self-Assessment Tool (Word) (fillable PDF). If your school scores at 60-100 (or will score at this level by January 2013), you may be eligible for nomination to the Green Ribbon Award! If you score at this level, you should consider applying. If you are not quite there yet, see CT Green LEAF Resources.

    Resources and supports are provided to help schools improve in all areas, including webinars, discussion boards, mentors, and professional development opportunities. Participating agencies are sharing their expertise to help schools.

    Your green team can work together to choose areas in the 3 goals and 7 steps to work on to make the school greener. Follow the "Roadmap" step-by-step guides to the 7 steps. The greening process is continuous improvement.

    If the school scored high on the Self-Assessment, they may be on track for nomination as a Green Ribbon School.

  4. The school can commit to completing the CT Green LEAF Application. Mentors are available to help you with this process! Contact ctgreenleaf@ctgreenschools.org by December 10, 2012 to connect with a mentor. Completed applications are due by January 11, 2013.

  5. The Connecticut Green LEAF team will make selections for awardees for the Connecticut Green LEAF awards, and nominees to the Green Ribbon Schools Award Program by February 15, 2012. All applicants will be notified of their status.

Connecticut Green LEAF Awardees and Nominees to Green Ribbon Schools Award will be recognized at the Connecticut Outdoor and Environmental Education Conference held on March 13, 2013 at Central Connecticut State University. Green Ribbon Awards will be announced by the US Department of Education on April 22, 2013. Awardees are invited to attend the ceremony in Washington DC on June 3, 2013.

For questions about the Connecticut Green LEAF program contact ctgreenleaf@ctgreenschools.org.