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updated: 1/19/2012 1:07 AM

How green is your school?

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How green are suburban schools?

The Illinois State Board of Education is launching a new recognition program for energy-efficient, or "Green Ribbon," schools.

The agency is accepting nominations for its new Green Ribbon Schools awards program, which aims to recognize schools that are leading the way to promote sustainability and environmental education and management.

Illinois joins 32 other states, the District of Columbia and the Bureau of Indian Education in participating in the pilot federal Green Ribbon Schools award program to commend the most green and healthy schools in the nation.

ISBE will be accepting applications from schools that have integrated best practices in energy, water and waste management, healthy school environments and environmental education. Applications are due by Feb. 12 and are available at

Nominations should reflect the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools' three pillars: reduced environmental impact, improved health and environmental literacy.

The state may nominate four schools serving kindergarten through 12th grades to the national competition. Nominees will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by March 22. The department will announce winners in April.

"Environmentally efficient and healthy schools are critical to our state's wellness and fiscal future," State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico said in a news release. "We encourage all schools in Illinois that have taken a comprehensive approach to environmental education and management to nominate schools to this recognition program and inspire a new generation of great thinkers to work toward greater sustainability."

For more information about the Green Ribbon Schools program, visit

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