In 2015, 12 percent of public and charter schools in the Chesapeake Bay watershed—a total of 502 schools—were certified sustainable.
Certified sustainable schools include those public and charter schools that have been recognized as sustainable and are located within the watershed by the following programs: U.S. Green Ribbon Schools, National Wildlife Federation Eco-Schools USA, Maryland Green Schools and Virginia Naturally Schools.
While no part of the watershed was excluded from this count, not every jurisdiction has a state-specific sustainable school program. The Chesapeake Bay Program will continue to monitor sustainable school programs in the region, and may expand future reporting to include new programs that meet the sustainable school criteria defined by the U.S. Department of Education. Future reporting may also include sustainable private schools, which are not measured here.
At 82 percent of the total (or 410 schools), Maryland is home to most of the certified sustainable schools in the watershed. Seventeen percent of the sustainable schools in the watershed are located in Virginia, with additional schools in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Because the vigor of school sustainability programs varies among jurisdictions, state participation in these programs can differ. In some states, programs are robust; in others, programs are not well-established; and in others, programs do not yet exist.
While this outcome is not associated with a numerical target, experts anticipate the number of certified sustainable schools in the watershed to rise as partners implement those actions identified in this outcome’s management strategy.
Sustainable schools reduce the environmental impact of their buildings and grounds, work to improve the health and wellness of students and staff, and offer environmental education incorporating civic skills, STEM and green career pathways. Because increasing sustainability in and around schools can directly involve students in environmental protection and restoration, a rise in sustainable schools can indicate a rise in overall environmental literacy.