NYC iSchool Awarded Eco-Schools USA Green Flag for Exceptional ‘Green’ Achievement

"The Green Flag award places the iSchool among an elite group of schools across the country that are improving their schools by reducing energy costs and waste, greening school grounds, and nurturing student-scientists through hands-on learning."

03-10-2014 // Anne Goddard

Eco-Schools USA logo

The NYC iSchool was recognized with the Green Flag by National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program for conserving natural resources and integrating environmental education into the curriculum.  The iSchool is the third school in New York City, and only the 22nd in the country, to achieve "Green Flag" status.

"We at National Wildlife Federation and Eco-Schools USA are proud of the example set by the students and teachers at the NYC iSchool," said Emily Fano, New York City outreach manager for NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program. "The Green Flag award places the iSchool among an elite group of schools across the country that are improving their schools by reducing energy costs and waste, greening school grounds, and nurturing student-scientists through hands-on learning."

To win the Green Flag, NYC iSchool students tackled a host of sustainability initiatives that included forming an Eco-Action team; auditing facility energy efficiency, and instituting environmental-themed curricula.  The students were led by science teacher Pete Mulroy, who created engaging, standards-aligned science modules using the Eco-Schools program framework as a guide to address all aspects of sustainability.  Beginning in the Fall of 2013, students in Mr. Mulroy’s class, addressed several Eco-Schools sustainability Pathways:

  • Biodiversity and School Grounds: students studied the importance of biodiversity as well as species extinction and its causes.  After taking a survey of the school grounds and identifying problem areas, students created a native plant garden and wildlife habitat outside the school that included raised bed planters and nesting houses for birds that they built themselves.  They also improved the health of the area street trees by loosening compacted soil, planting flowers in, and adding mulch to, the tree pits.
  • Energy and Climate Change: Students studied the ecological impacts of the current global energy system and learned about energy conservation and alternative energy technologies.  After conducting a school-wide energy audit, and identifying ways the school could reduce its energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, students installed electrical timers in classrooms to stop 28 laptops from charging overnight when no one is present.  Students also wrote letters to the NYC Department of Education’s School Construction Authority requesting that they install working thermostats.  The school hasn’t had functioning thermostats since 1997, as a result of changes made to the heating system. 

Mr. Mulroy plans to have his students complete all 10 Eco-Schools Pathways by the end of the 2014 school year. When he does, he will be the first Eco-School in the country to have accomplished this feat.

"I will always remember the teaching styles of Mr. Mulroy,” said Kelsey Jean-Baptiste, a NYC iSchool senior high school student. “There is an urgency about what he is teaching. You are able to see his passion and that he really cares about the environment. He sometimes speaks about how he has changed the way he is living and teaches us things that can make a difference in our world."

Teachers, students, Manhattan Borough president Gale Brewer, representatives from the Hudson Square Business Improvement District, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) Sustainability Initiative, and the National Wildlife Federation celebrated these accomplishments with an award ceremony at the school.

"As a staunch advocate for environmental awareness and green curriculums, I am proud to honor the NYC iSchool as a ‘Green Flag’ award winner," said Manhattan Borough president Gale Brewer. "This is a great example of what a dedicated school staff and their students can do when they focus on sustainability and green initiatives with the leadership of a supportive administration and parent community.  I hope this award encourages the iSchool to expand their efforts and inspires other schools across the City to focus on these important issues," she said.

The NYC DOE Sustainability Initiative presented the iSchool with a $5,000 grant as a reward for their achievements and to expand their sustainability programs.

"We are proud of the outstanding work Pete Mulroy and our students have done to achieve the Eco-Schools Green Flag award," said iSchool principal Isora Bailey. "The Eco-Schools program has conferred many benefits to our school.  Specifically, the program has helped Mr. Mulroy design engaging, hands-on science modules that empower kids to create a more sustainable and healthy school environment. The Eco-Schools program is aligned to our school mission and vision – to equip students with the skills necessary for success and leadership in the 21st century by providing them with opportunities to engage in meaningful work that has relevance to them and the world.  The Eco Schools program embodies what we want our students to experience, and we will continue to use the program’s comprehensive framework to weave environmental education into our curriculum," Bailey said.

About NWF Eco-Schools in New York City:

The NYC Eco-Schools program was launched in 2012 and has grown from 8 to over 200 schools in about 18 months.  NWF Eco-Schools staff have introduced the Eco-Schools program to over 1,500 NYC DOE school Sustainability Coordinators, and trained over 500 to implement the Cool School Challenge, a program to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions at school.  NWF Eco-Schools has also provided small grants to 37 of its schools to complete the program’s Waste and Consumption or Energy Pathways.  A survey of NYC Eco-Schools conducted at the end of 2012 found that 60.6% said they have increased recycling in their schools since implementing the Eco-Schools program; 57.6% have completed an environmental audit; 51.5% have created an outdoor classroom; 42.4% have reduced energy use, and 42.4% reported better student engagement.  In 2012, Eco-Schools across the U.S. saved an average of 20% on their energy bills over 2010 usage levels.  This added up to a reduction of 53 million pounds of CO2 and $50 million in saved energy costs for the year - enough to pay for 700 to 800 more full-time educators. 

About NYC DOE Sustainability Initiative:

The New York City Department of Education is the largest system of public schools in the United States, serving about 1.1 million students in over 1,700 schools. In order to continue to be the leader in sustainable education and operation of sustainable facilities, the DOE plans to double its annual recycling rate, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2017, and to provide sustainable curriculum resources to principals and teachers.  For more information, visit the NYC DOE Sustainability Initiative website.


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