P.S. 146 in Brooklyn Awarded Eco-Schools USA Green Flag for Exceptional ‘Green’ Achievement

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"The school’s composting and recycling program is another great example of how innovative ideas are helping our district move toward a greener tomorrow."

03-24-2014 // Emily Fano

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P.S. 146, the Brooklyn New School, 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.  P.S. 146 is the fourth school in New York City, and only the 24th 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 P.S. 146,” said Emily Fano, New York City outreach manager for NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program. "The Green Flag award places the P.S.146 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, P.S. 146 students tackled a host of sustainability initiatives that included forming an Eco-Action team, increasing green space and biodiversity on school grounds, saving energy, and implementing award-winning waste reduction measures.  The school recycles and composts 75% of its cafeteria food waste, turns hard-to-recycle items into art projects, and is an official NYC Compost Project demonstration site.

This year, P.S. 146’s school’s garden, which includes a “pollinator palace” and bug hotel, met the criteria for certification with NWF’s Schoolyard Habitats® program.  The program recognizes schools that have created havens for wildlife, providing essential elements like food, water and cover.

"I applaud the students and faculty at P.S. 146 for their exemplary efforts in promoting environmental and social sustainability,” said local Councilman Brad Lander. “The school’s composting and recycling program is another great example of how innovative ideas are helping our district move toward a greener tomorrow. The students and faculty’s resourcefulness can serve as a tremendous model for other schools in our district and across the country," he said.

Led by science teacher Barbara Taragan and Sustainability Coordinator Johanna Esteras P.S. 146 students learn about an impressive array of globally important issues across the grades and curricula:

  • First graders raise crops in the school garden, use the compost they produce from their cafeteria scraps on their raised beds, and harvest and serve their produce.  During the course of this work, the students explore green spaces in and around the school community—including parks, community gardens, and other urban farms.  “They learn what green space means to the health and well-being of humans, and the positive (as well as negative) impact humans can have on green spaces,” says Taragan.
  • Second graders learn about the importance of water as they engineer ways to collect water, including: designing a water filtering system, creating rainwater catchment systems, and building pipe systems to meet a variety of challenges.  This spring they will create pipe systems to irrigate the school’s gardens.
  • Fifth graders study weather and climate change and the benefits of alternative energy sources.  They demonstrate what they learn at the school’s yearly sustainability “science fair”--Ecorama.  The school has a blog by the same name, that highlights students’ green activities and accomplishments.

In keeping with their commitment to nurturing socially responsible citizens, P.S. 146 students and staff have also gone out into their community to plant and care for trees, participate in ecological restoration and cleanups at nearby Plumb Beach, and raised and released native pollinators like monarch butterflies.

"Since we have instituted a strong focus on teaching an eco-based curriculum, our students have shown increasingly sophisticated answers to questions dealing with the negative and positive impact humans can have on the environment," said P.S. 146 principal Anna Allanbrook. "They write about storm water run-off, flooding, ground water pollution, and the balance of nature.  We’re nurturing a generation of environmentally literate citizens and are proud of the outstanding work our staff and students have done to achieve the Eco-Schools Green Flag award," said Allanbrook.

Teachers, student Green Team members, Council member Brad Lander, and the National Wildlife Federation celebrated these accomplishments with an award ceremony at the school.  The event included a tour of the Green Studio—a room devoted to sustainable projects and activities, the cafeteria recycling stations, the outdoor composting center and garden, and the Eco-Casita—an outdoor classroom in a converted shipping container, outfitted with a green roof.  The NYC DOE Sustainability Initiative presented P.S. 146 with a $5,000 grant as a reward for their achievements and to expand their sustainability programs.

Green Flag Event Details:

Approximately 15 5th graders, six 1st graders, members of the PTA, staff, and representatives from the NYC Department of Education Sustainability Initiative will be at the Green Flag event on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 1:30pm to 3:00pm at P.S. 146, 610 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231.

About NWF Eco-Schools in New York City:

The NYC Eco-Schools program was launched in 2012 and has grown from 8 to more than 210 schools in about 18 months.  NWF Eco-Schools staff have i

ntroduced the Eco-Schools program to more than 1,500 NYC DOE school Sustainability Coordinators, and trained more than 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 Consumption and Waste or Energy Pathways.  A survey of NYC Eco-Schools conducted at the end of 2012 found that 60.6% said they have increased recycling, 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 their schools since implementing the Eco-Schools program;;In 2012, Eco-Schools across the U.S. saved 53 million pounds of CO2 and $50 million in energy costs for the year - enough to pay for 700 to 800 more full-time educators. To learn more about Eco-Schools USA, visit:

http://www.nwf.org/Eco-Schools-USA.aspx

.


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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