The Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School Honored with Green Flag Award by Eco-Schools USA for Outstanding Sustainability

Today, the Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School (BUGS) received national recognition for their environmental efforts by winning the Green Flag award, presented by the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Eco-School USA program. The award, which is the highest distinction possible in the program, is given to top schools who show exceptional leadership with sustainability by integrating green principles throughout the school and curriculum. The award came with a $4,000 grant from the NYC Department of Education (DOE) Office of Sustainability, an NWF partner.

“We’re excited and very proud to present BUGS with the prestigious Green Flag award. The school has proven itself to be a true example of what it means to promote environmental education, connect people with nature, and raise awareness about the impacts of climate change,” said Emily Fano, Senior Manager for the NYC Eco-Schools program. “The school’s focus on real-world problem solving and environmental sustainability is nurturing students who are compassionate critical thinkers and stewards of their school, community and environment.”

In order to be recognized as a Green Flag award winner, BUGS demonstrated its success in addressing a number of sustainability initiatives that included but were not limited to creating an Eco-Action team, completing an environmental audit and generating an Eco-Action plan. Three of the Eco-Schools “Pathways to Sustainability” that the school completed include:

Energy: Students conducted energy audits in science and “Sustainability Superstars” classes, as well as Garden team sessions. As part of their campaign for energy reduction, awareness posters were spread across the school building near light switches and energy appliances in an effort to encourage all students and staff to conserve energy.
School Grounds: Students and staff collaborated in creating and designing the North Lawn wildlife habitat, now a certified NWF Schoolyard Habitat®. Students also created a recess yard container produce “Yarden.” Design work has been shared during staff interdisciplinary sustainability planning sessions and results will be shared with community members for the year end celebration.
Consumption and Waste: BUGS was the Citywide and Borough wide winner of the Department of Sanitation’s Golden Shovel and Golden Apple Awards in the Reduce & Reuse category in 2014, winning an $11,000 prize. A trimester long project was created to better manage and reduce waste across school grounds. Students presented project results to the entire school community, as well as at the Golden Apple Awards ceremony. The school’s current Waste Management Team helps direct peers to separate food scraps, recycling and trash on a daily basis. Students stand behind bins to ensure correct source separation procedures and measure and weigh the final amount of trash and food scraps for informational purposes.
“The National Wildlife Federation's Eco-Schools USA Green Flag Award inspired our students, and our whole school, not to be complacent but to design action plans for our entire school community so that we could collectively reduce all forms of waste in our building. We therefore went beyond recycling and food waste reduction to energy conservation, said Susan Tenner, BUGS’ Executive Director. “It enabled our students to see the impact they could have on the things they could control; they learned how to collect data, develop patience, and realized the interconnection they had with others using the building.”

The NYC Eco-Schools program was launched in 2012 and has grown from 8 to more than 380 schools. NWF staff have introduced the Eco-Schools USA program to more than 3,000 NYC DOE school Sustainability Coordinators and hosted professional development workshops and free networking events – “Sustainability Coordinator Gatherings” - for educators across the five boroughs.

“The DOE’s Office of Sustainability is thrilled at the leadership that the Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School has demonstrated in school sustainability, and grateful for our partners at NWF’s Eco-Schools USA for providing this level of support to our schools,” said Meredith McDermott, Director of the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Sustainability. “The Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School is a model for others, demonstrating that collaboration can yield positive action to reduce environmental impact while maximizing community impact. Congratulations to the students, administration, teachers, and supporters of the school on their well-deserved Green Flag award!”

NYC Eco-Schools’ Growing a Wild NYC program, in partnership with the National Park Service, the Student Conservation Association, and 14 NYC public schools is now in its second year. The program is working to educate K-12 students about the causes of pollinator declines and engages them in restoring vital pollinator habitat through the creation of pollinator-friendly school gardens and plantings at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. NYC Eco-Schools has also provided small grants to dozens of NYC DOE schools since 2012 to implement waste reduction and recycling and energy conservation campaigns and to achieve Eco-Schools certification. To learn more about NYC Eco-Schools, visit:

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