News and Speeches

Chancellor Walcott Congratulates Students and Staff for Reducing Energy Use and Increasing Recycling in Schools


Top 10 Schools in the Green Cup Challenge™ Reduced Carbon Dioxide Emissions by an Average of 34%

Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott, in honor of Earth Day, congratulated students and staff today for their environmental initiatives to conserve energy, increase recycling and reduce their carbon footprints. To learn about energy conservation, students in 103 school buildings participated in the Green Cup Challenge™, an annual student-led competition to measure and reduce school-based electricity use for one month. The competition, which ran from March 2-30, was created by the Green Schools Alliance (GSA), a nonprofit organization of public and private schools whose aim is to meet the Mayor’s PlaNYC target of cutting carbon emissions 30 percent by 2017. The winning schools were able to reduce their electricity by nearly 34% on average, and received grants totaling $100,000, sponsored by the Department of Education (DOE) and the City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). Also this year, GrowNYC, a non-profit group that works with communities and schools to improve the environment, sponsored the Recycling Champions program in 27 schools; of those, the top three schools recycled an average of 47 percent of their building’s waste.   

“My hat goes off to our students and staff this year for a terrific job preserving our natural resources and reducing the carbon footprint for future generations,” Chancellor Walcott said. “I also want to thank our city agencies and non-profit partners for helping to cut energy use in school buildings—which, as a whole, consume 25 percent of the electricity used in New York City public facilities.” 

The Chancellor made the announcement the day after Earth Day at Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day School—one of the winners of the video competition in the Green Cup Challenge™—and was joined by actor and environmentalist Matthew Modine, City Deputy Sustainability Director Adam Freed, DCAS Chief Energy Management Officer Ariella Maron, GSA President and founder Peg Watson, Solar One Executive Director Chris Collins, GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen, Deputy Chancellor for Operations Kathleen Grimm, DOE Chief Executive Officer of School Facilities John Shea, DOE Director of Sustainability Ozgem Ornektekin, Manhattan Comprehensive Principal Michael Toise, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan, United Federation of Teachers Safety and Health Director Chris Proctor, State Senator Thomas Duane, Council Member James Gennaro and Con Edison Media Relations Director Michael Clendenin. 

In addition to programs to reduce energy consumption, 23 schools have implemented the Solar One curriculum, which allows students to use their school buildings as science labs to find solutions for reducing electricity. At Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day School, students have embraced solar power and used it to create a portable charger for electronics. Students also helped build a solar panel that powers the hallway clock on the sixth floor of their school building. 

 “Congratulations to all the students who participated in reducing energy use in your schools and for increasing recycling,” actor and environmentalist Matthew Modine said. “We all must do our part to reduce our carbon footprint and maintain our natural resources. I, for one, ride my bike wherever and whenever I can and help reduce carbon emissions—and the exercise is good for your health.” 

“Through PlaNYC, we are taking concrete actions to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers and prepare the City for one million more people by 2030,” said Adam Freed, the City's Deputy Sustainability Director. “But City government cannot achieve our goals alone. The Green Cup Challenge is a terrific example of how we can work with students, teachers, and facility operators to save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and educate and engage the next generation of New Yorkers. I applaud today's winners and all of the participating students’ commitment to creating a greener, greater New York.” 

“DCAS is pleased to support the Department of Education’s participation in the Green Cup Challenge,” said Ariella Maron, Deputy Commissioner of Energy Management at the City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services. “The achievements of the students this year prove that small, no-cost steps reduce energy use, emissions and costs.”

The Green Cup Challenge winners are: 


% Reduction

Grant Amount

1- Morris Educational Campus (4 schools)



2- PS 65 on Staten Island



3- PS 7 in Brooklyn



4- High School of Economics and Finance



5- Leadership and Public Service High School



6- PS 48 in Brooklyn



7- PS 81 in Brooklyn



8- PS 89 in Manhattan



9- The Science and Medicine Middle School in Brooklyn



10- PS 298 in Brooklyn




Three schools won awards for creating videos: MS 158 in Queens, which won $2,500; Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical High School, which won $1,500; and Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day School, which won $1,000. The videos can be viewed online at:

The GrowNYC Recycling Champions are:

  1. Brooklyn—School for International Studies, which recycled 55% of the building’s waste.
  2. Manhattan—IS 52, which recycled 51% of the building’s waste.
  3. Bronx—CS 211, which recycled 35% of the building’s waste.

“Energy conservation is a top priority for us and our Office of Sustainability has made great strides in engaging students, staff and the entire school community in reducing electricity and increasing recycling,”

    Deputy Chancellor for Operations Kathleen Grimm said. “We see it is working with programs like the Green Cup Challenge, GrowNYC’s Recycling Champions and with the Solar One curriculum that gives students the chance to use the school building as a lab where they can measure energy use in real time.”

    “Manhattan Comprehensive students and staff are very conscious about saving the environment and have worked hard in creating a school culture that is mindful of energy conservation,” Principal Michael Toise said. “Our students are ‘green-tastic’ and proud of it.”

    “We created Green Cup Challenge™ to encourage schools to participate in a healthy and educational energy conservation competition to increase awareness and to tangibly meet the Mayor’s goal for reducing carbon emission by 30% by 2017,” said Peg Watson, president and founder of the Green Schools Alliance. “We are thrilled to see more and more schools participating in the program from roughly 20 schools in 2010 to 103 today. This shows our students are taking the lead when it comes to energy conservation.”

    “We are proud to have sponsored Green Cup Challenge where students and staff discovered techniques to save energy that they can practice every day at school and at home,” said Frances A. Resheske, Con Edision Senior Vice President, Public Affairs. “We congratulate all 103 schools that participated!”

    “Since 2010, GrowNYC’s Public School Recycling Champions Program has developed model recycling programs at 27 schools citywide,” said Marcel Van Ooyen, Executive Director of GrowNYC. “Recycling Champions engages all of the school community, and our work is paying off. We’ve increased recycling rates in the schools over a five-month period.”

    “Solar One is excited to be working with the Department of Education in implementing the Green Design Lab, which is currently in 23 schools, and we plan to add more schools,” said Chris Collins, Executive Director of Solar One.  “We are creating a new generation of young environmental leaders with a program that helps to increase students’ knowledge in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), to reduce energy use and save on energy bills.”

    “Our schools are positioned to make a big difference in helping New York City to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals,” School Facilities CEO John Shea said. “Through participation in environmental initiatives, such as Solar One, our schools will reduce their energy consumption levels, while also serving as learning laboratories that give students a hands-on education in the importance of conservation.”

    “We are training our sustainability coordinators who have done a great job working with our students and staff in shutting off lights in rooms that are not being used and putting trash in the correct recycling bins,” said Ozgem Ornektekin, DOE’s Director of Sustainability. “Our school communities are stepping up to conserve energy use.”

    “We’re so proud of these Green Cup Challenge-winners including the school leaders, teachers and especially the students, who  will be part of the generation that makes sure this nation establishes responsible ecology policies,” said Ernest Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.

    “We value our partnership with the DOE and are committed to our continued collaboration on sustainability programs and projects,” said UFT Safety and Health Director Chris Proctor.

    “Today, in honor of Earth Day, I join Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott in congratulating the school communities—students, teachers, staff and parents—who were most successful in implementing these crucial green initiatives,” said State Senator Thomas K. Duane (D, WFP - Manhattan). “As interactive learning experiences, these efforts to reduce school-wide electricity usage and augment schools’ recycling programs will yield lasting results for the future custodianship of the Earth.  I encourage all schools—public, private and parochial—to study the successes of the winning schools and strive to emulate them. Our precious natural resources depend on it.”

    “Congratulations to the students who worked so hard to reduce electricity consumption, and as chairman of the Environmental Protection Committee, and author of New York City’s law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, I salute you,” Council Member James F. Gennaro said. “Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott are world-class environmental leaders who are transforming our city’s environment and elevating the environmental consciousness of all who live here. The next generation of green innovators has a head start thanks to their programs.”

    Visit the DOE’s Office of Sustainability webpage for more information.