green bird-shaped lines with wording above that says US Department of Education and below Green Ribbon Schools

In a news release today, Dr. James Lane, Virginia superintendent of public instruction, congratulated Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) as one of only five districts in the nation to earn the U.S. Department of Education's 2021 Green Ribbon (ED-GRS) School District Sustainability Award. PWCS was selected based on high achievement in the three ED-GRS Pillars: 1) reduced environmental impact and costs; 2) improved health and wellness; and 3) effective environmental and sustainability education.

"I congratulate Prince William County for its vision and commitment to embedding green practices and sustainability in all aspects of division operations," Lane said. "An especially noteworthy aspect of the initiative is the promotion of environmental literacy by creating opportunities for students to acquire the attributes and skills known as the Five C's: critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, and citizenship."

The federal Green Ribbon School program recognizes environmentally friendly schools and districts that promote environmental awareness, energy efficiency, community engagement and student wellness. The Virginia Department of Education nominated PWCS for the honor (PDF) earlier this year in recognition of the division's sustainability initiative.

The Prince William County School Board approved the initiative in June 2020 and identified the following objectives:

Establishing standards for net-zero buildings;

  • Establishing standards for procurement, installation, and operation of solar power systems;
  • Recommending a standard for high performance building design specifications;
  • Determining the feasibility of replacing all fossil fuel buses with electric;
  • Establishing a sustainability advisory committee;
  • Participating with Prince William County in the creation of a countywide sustainability task force;
  • Creating measurable standards for environmental literacy; and
  • Increasing site-based participation in waste reduction.

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education is honoring 27 schools, three early learning centers, five districts, and five postsecondary institutions for innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

The U.S. Department of Education will formally present the Green Ribbon School awards later this year during a ceremony in Washington. More information about the 2021 Green Ribbon School award winners is available online from the U.S. Department of Education.