The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is helping to not only prepare students for a successful future but also a sustainable one. Developed and implemented by a diverse group of governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, school sustainability coordinators and community members, the DOE Sustainability Initiative empowers students and schools to take actions, both large and small, that make a meaningful impact in New York City and ultimately across the globe.
In order to make schools more sustainable, DOE has an ambitious sustainability plan that strongly aligns with PlaNYC and the City's 30x17 goals. The Sustainability Initiative plans to double annual recycling rates by 2013, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent by 2017, construct sustainable school facilities, increase water efficiency and provide sustainable curriculum resources to principals and teachers. DOE has already demonstrated leadership in energy conservation and management by being the first City agency to benchmark all of its buildings and provide energy consumption information to the public.
To achieve the goals in this plan, the Sustainability Initiative empowers students and schools to take action through innovative sustainability programs and competitions that focus on four key areas: ecology, energy, materials and recycling, and green curriculum. Students can learn about ecology through various City partnership initiatives such as planting trees in schools with MillionTreesNYC, starting school gardens with Grow to Learn Citywide School Gardens Initiative and composting with the NYC Compost Project. Through membership with the Green Schools Alliance, DOE engages students in energy conservation activities such as the NYC Green Cup Challenge, in which schools annually compete to reduce electricity consumption. A growing number of schools are also integrating sustainable use of materials and recycling with daily activities through tools provided by Recycling Champions, a program offering best practices for school recycling. Finally, DOE provides green curriculum resources that students can use to not only grasp interdisciplinary concepts necessary to excel in standardized tests but also to gain the skills and knowledge to succeed in future academic and career paths. Collectively, these efforts will have positive, long-lasting impacts for the 1.1 million students in the New York City public school system, New York City, and beyond.