Wellington Elementary School in Fayette County is a recipient of the 2014 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Award.

Acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Mike Boots and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made the announcement in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. In all, 48 schools were honored for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including civics and green career pathways.

The Kentucky Department of Education nominated Wellington Elementary for the award.

“This is a good example of how schools can not only cut costs, but also improve the health of their students and staff, and equip students with the lifelong skills they need to be good stewards of our environment,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.

Wellington Elementary is designed to be one of the most energy efficient and sustainable schools in Fayette County and features photovoltaic solar panels, a rainwater capture and reuse system, a thermal hot water system, permeable pavers, a rain garden, automatic lighting controls, native landscaping, and an outdoor classroom. Wellington has previously been named a Kentucky Green and Healthy School and awarded the ENERGY STAR award. Wellington participates in the Kentucky National Energy Education Development Project, Education Leads to Understanding Sustainability, Energy and the Environment, Fayette County Sustainability, Farm to School, Safe Routes to School, and Waste Busters programs.

Wellington students and staff members collaborate to reduce energy consumption and solid waste, while improving air quality and efficiency in and around their school.  Wellington has a student and teacher-led sustainability team that monitors and holds their school accountable for its sustainability initiatives. They conduct an energy assessment annually, and implement a plan of action to reduce energy consumption where needed. Wellington has a comprehensive indoor air quality management program that is consistent with EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools.

Environmental and sustainability concepts are integrated throughout the curriculum and in classroom-based and schoolwide assessments. The entire 76,000 square foot facility is used as a learning laboratory and teaching tool. Students lead tours that focus on Wellington’s unique sustainability components.

Wellington has many green partners including the University of Kentucky (UK) Colleges of Engineering and Education, Polar Bears International, Bluegrass Greensource, UK Arboretum, Newton’s Attic, Environmental Engineers, Race to the Future, Kentucky Home Performance, Kentucky Utilities, Whole Foods, Good Foods Co-Op, Kentucky Division for Air Quality, and local police and fire departments. Alliance for a Healthier Generation partners with Wellington to provide assistance with the development and implementation of action plans and support for aligning school nutrition to help students and staff make healthier food choices. Wellington also participates in a Farm to School program to use local, fresh food and the district’s Connect the Dots program to help students make balanced choices in their school lunch meals.

Sustainability is an integral part of school culture at Wellington. The school community is committed to doing its part to protect the environment and teach its students and community about environmental and sustainability concepts.

More information on the Green Ribbon federal recognition award can be found here.  Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars in which the 2014 honorees are exemplary can be found here.