GA Recognized As Green Ribbon School

GA Recognized As Green Ribbon School
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This April, Greenwich Academy was recognized as a Green Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education for its outstanding work in environmental sustainability. The Green Ribbon award recognizes schools that are committed to the education of students regarding health, wellness, and sustainability, and demonstrate consistent effort to reduce overall environmental impact through initiatives both in and out of the classroom.

GA director of facilities Mr. Scott Thacker led the school in its effort toward sustainability with the GA “Green Team,” a group of 25-30 faculty, administrators, and staff started this year that is focused on creating environmentally friendly initiatives for the future.

To begin the process of recognition, head of school Mrs. Molly King signed a Principal’s Commitment to Connecticut Green LEAF Schools that pledged to “provide effective environmental and sustainability education,” “improve the health and wellness of students and staff,” and “reduce environmental impact and cost.”

These three pledges are the basis of the Connecticut Green LEAF schools program, and ensure that the schools receiving the award are worthy of recognition. The award can only be received once and therefore commits a school to a lifetime of sustainability.

This year, the GA Green Team has focused on indoor air quality and waste reduction. In order to involve the entire community with the discussion, the Green Team sends a friendly eco-tip to faculty and staff every few weeks about ways to make the classroom, office, or field a more environmentally sustainable space.

Mr. Thacker explained that the Green Team hopes to expand in the coming years to involve students and parents in developing and implementing the green initiatives.

The Greenwich Academy website defines sustainability as “the responsible use of resources found in the environment,” and outlines many of the initiatives geared toward sustainability that have already been put into practice here on campus.

Just one example is the green roof, a type of roof that provides a natural habitat for insects and small animals. The roof also is constructed in a way that reduces absorption of heat, therefore helping to keep the building cool and reducing the need for air conditioning in the warmer months.

GA also notes its commitment to animal conservation and the opportunities that the multiple wildlife areas on campus provide for learning experiences outside of the classroom. The wetlands on campus (i.e. The Pond) are protected by management regulations and are regularly utilized to observe nature in an unobtrusive, yet informative way.

The Green Team has already begun plans for next year, including a new system in the Upper School that will further improve indoor air quality and reduce overall energy usage. Lighting technology is also a major discussion point for the Green Team, as light is such an integral part of the design of the school.

Mr. Thacker explained that “LED lighting used to be very expensive and only usable in certain applications, but as technology has improved in the last five years, [it is] now a real option in many cases.” Mr. Thacker reported the significant changes made to the PAC over the last year: the majority of the lighting in the theater and stage has been converted to LED. Converting to LED reduces electricity, and therefore considerably reduces cost.

Greenwich Academy’s recognition as a Green Ribbon School simply reiterates the consistent effort toward environmental sustainability through education.