Committed to environmental responsibility: District 95 honored with national award

U.S. Department of Education honors district with sustainablility award

Lake Zurich Community Unit District 95 has received a national honor for its multifaceted approach to sustainability, health and environmental education.

District 95 and Clarendon Hills Middle School were the only two entities in Illinois to receive the 2024 Green Ribbon School honors by the U.S. Department of Education.

The awards announced Friday are for schools, districts and postsecondary institutions for reducing environmental impact costs, improving health and wellness and offering effective sustainability education.

Clarendon Hills Middle School was named a Green Ribbon School and District 95 was honored as a District Sustainability Awardee.

District 95, which was nominated by the Illinois State Board of Education, utilizes a variety of conservation efforts to serve as “authentic learning tools for students,” according to the district.

Those include the installation of LED lighting, motion sensors, EV charging stations and HVAC upgrades, which coupled with renewable energy sources like solar panels and geothermal fields at multiple sites.

The district said it uses 36 months of utility bills to guide future projects and plans to expand its renewable energy portfolio.

Across the country, 41 schools, 10 districts, three postsecondary institutions and one early learning center were honored, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“These awards represent thousands of students and countless hours of hard work in schools and on college campuses, ensuring equitable access to healthy, climate-resilient learning environments where students are prepared for the sustainability challenges of the present and future,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a news release.

District 95 officials said the district has formed a districtwide sustainability committee that engages community stakeholders and has embedded environmental education across the curriculum.

Field trips instill an appreciation of nature in younger students and older students through extracurricular clubs, advanced classes and a high school greenhouse and plant sale collaborate with community partners to promote outdoor education, environmental conservation and business acumen, according to District 95.

The district is “committed to developing global citizens who demonstrate environmental responsibility, which is identified in the district’s most recent strategic plan, Empower95,” Superintendent Kelley Gallt said in a news release.

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