History of NC Green Schools
North Carolina Green Schools was founded by Asheville Buncombe Sustainable Community Initiatives, Inc. (ABSCI), a NC not-for-profit sustainability organization based in Asheville, NC. The program is now housed at the Center for the Environment at Catawba College in Salisbury, NC under the leadership of Dr. John Wear, Executive Director of the Center.
Reading Riding and Retrofit: NC Green Schools Program began under the guidance of ABSCI, a 501(c)(3), in 2009. Reading Riding and Retrofit was developed to encourage and recognize green initiatives in the schools of NC. Initially RRR piloted their efforts within the public schools of Buncombe County NC. Through community partners including The Asheville Hub, Buncombe County, Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools, the program began to convene conversations to improve the energy footprints of local public school campuses. Partnering with The Land of Sky Regional Council and Waste Reduction Partners in the summer of 2009, a $499,000 EPA Climate Showcase Grant was secured to advance energy saving initiatives and build a culture of conservation on the campuses. The program was a great success and built the foundation for the next phase of work.
The outcomes of the EPA Climate Showcase Grant include 41 Buncombe/Asheville schools replacing lights and heating systems with more energy efficient ones, thus saving $240,000 in utility costs/year and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1,300 metric tons annually. Teachers and students also started school gardens, composting programs, "Turn it off" energy conservation campaigns, and engaged in other hands-on environmental and community projects. Read about all the school enhancements and energy/cost savings in the Land of Sky final report.
In the summer of 2011, RRR staff began the research to develop a Green Schools Program specifically designed to support North Carolina schools. Through the relationships built at the National Green Schools Network, a green schools recognition program was modeled on The Palm Beach County Green Schools Program, developed by Florida Atlantic University’s Pine Jog Environmental Education Center and the pillars of the US Department of Education's Green Ribbon. The NC Green Schools program encourages, supports and recognizes the efforts of North Carolina K-12 schools.
We seek to expand the NC Green Schools Learning Network in order to help teachers connect and share information through in person workshops, online webinars, an annual conference, and connector meetings.
Thank you to the following people: Mack Pearsall of ABSCI as a founding sponsor for his commitment and financial support of the program, and Robin Cape as the developer and founding director of Reading, Riding, Retrofit and the NC Green Schools, for her vision, collaborative spirit, and leadership in the early years stewarding the program.