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News and Speeches

For Earth Day, Schools Chancellor Walcott Congratulates Students, Teachers and Principals for Their Environmental Initiatives to Reduce Energy Use and Increase Recycling In Schools


The Top Ten Schools In The Green Cup Challenge™ Reduced Carbon Dioxide Emissions By 35 Percent on Average in One Month

For Earth Day, Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott today congratulated students, teachers and principals for their environmental initiatives to conserve energy, increase recycling and reduce the carbon footprint. To learn about energy conservation, students in 182 school buildings participated in the Green Cup Challenge™, an annual, student-led event that supports efforts to measure and reduce school-based electricity use for one month. The competition, which ran from Nov. 5- Dec. 3, 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 reducing carbon emissions 30 percent by 2017. Today, the schools received grants totaling $185,000, sponsored by the Department of Education (DOE) and the City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). The top ten schools were able to reduce energy consumption on average by 35 percent.

The Chancellor made the announcement at the Leadership and Public Service High School, one of the winners of the Green Cup Challenge™, and he was joined by Deputy Chancellor for Operations Kathleen Grimm, CEO of School Facilities for the DOE John Shea, Actor and Environmentalist Matthew Modine,  Chief Energy Management Officer for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services Kristin Barbato, Department of Sanitation Deputy Commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability Ron Gonen, Council Members Margaret S. Chin and James F. Gennaro,  Green Schools Alliance President and Founder Peg Watson, Solar One Executive Director Chris Collins, GrowNYC Manager for Recycling Programs Robert Lock, the High School for Leadership and Public Service Principal Philip Santos, United Federation of Teachers Safety and Health Director Chris Proctor and Director of New York City Public Affairs for Con Edison David Gmach.

“Thanks to our students, teachers and principals, our schools are able to reduce energy consumption and increase recycling in order to preserve our natural resources for future generations,” Chancellor Walcott said. “I want to thank city agencies and our non-profit partners for their continued support in this effort.”

“There are dozens of things each of us can do every day that have an immediate, positive impact on the environment,” Actor and Environmentalist Matthew Modine said. “NYC students understand the challenges we collectively face. I support the Green Cup Challenge because it's teaching our students how to create a more sustainable and balanced future. The students have learned why decreasing consumption and reducing waste is so crucial for their future.”

“It is very exciting to see so many schools contributing to energy conservation programs.  The lessons these students learned during this Green Cup Challenge can be carried into their everyday practices to make New York City even more energy efficient,” said Kristin Barbato, Chief Energy Management Officer for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

“DOE is central to our recycling and waste reduction programs. It provides an opportunity to teach today and tomorrow's generation the importance of recycling and conservation,” said Department of Sanitation Deputy Commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability Ron Gonen.

The Green Cup Challenge winners are:

Winning Schools

% Reduction

Grant Amount

W.E.B. Du Bois High School  



P.S. / I.S. 66 in Brooklyn



P.S. 123 in Queens 



P.S. 81 in Brooklyn



The Eagle Academy For Young Men in the Bronx



PS/MS 84 in Queens 



P.S. / I.S. 155 in Brooklyn



I.S. 27 on Staten Island



P.S. 41 in Brooklyn



Leadership And Public Service High School



Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical High School, which received $1,500, was the winner of the video submission. Two other schools received honorable mentions. They are Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day School and P.S. 119 in Brooklyn. You can view the videos at:  http://www.greencupchallenge.net/nyc/video2012.html

The DOE has been working with various partners to introduce recycling and conservation in schools. For example, Solar One provides a curriculum to 15 schools that focuses on sustainability and preserving our natural resources and allows students to use their own school buildings as a science lab to monitor energy use. Solar One and the DOE co-sponsored a four-month Energy Challenge from December 2012 to March 2013. There were 55 schools that participated and the top three winners will share $25,000 in cash prizes for reducing energy usage over four months. The winning schools are P.S. 84 in Queens, P.S./M.S. 194 in the Bronx and the Academy of Environmental Leadership on the Bushwick Campus. Another partner, GrowNYC, is working with 50 school communities to increase recycling, up from ten last year.

With GrowNYC, the Sanitation Department and the Mayor’s Office, the DOE is expanding the City’s composting program which began last year as a pilot in nine schools on the Upper West Side in District 3. The pilot, which ran from February 2012 to June 2012, diverted 85 percent of waste from landfills and decreased the number of garbage bags from 54 to eight. This year the program includes an additional 61schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn and this month, the program expanded to 22 schools on Staten Island. For composting, all waste is separated into containers for liquids, paper, discarded food, glass and bottles.

Last year, the DOE opened the High School for Energy and Technology which offers students a curriculum that incorporates conservation and preservation. In its first year, it was one of 17 schools to receive a grant from the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program to participate in the “Wrigley’s Litter Less Campaign” – a campaign aimed at reducing waste and litter and increasing recycling. The school has a “Green Team” which meets twice monthly to coordinate recycling and clean-up activities throughout the City. 

In addition, the DOE is constructing a Net Zero Energy building on Staten Island which will serve as a lab for future energy saving construction. What is so unique about this building is that all electricity not in use will go to the local community.

“Our school buildings consume 25 percent of the electricity used in New York City public facilities, and we are working with our sustainability coordinators to reduce this energy use,” said Deputy Chancellor of Operations Kathleen Grimm.

To reduce energy use at the Leadership and Public Service High School, the principal made daily announcements about energy conservation, and students made sure that computers and non-essential electrical equipment were shut off when not in use. School staff took advantage of the daylight to keep lights off in the cafeteria and lobby, and science teachers integrated energy conservation into their lessons. The custodial staff reduced the use of its water pump and exhaust when the building was not in use.

Leadership and Public Service High School Principal Santos said, “Our students, teachers and staff are committed to reducing the carbon footprint by making sure lights are out in rooms not being used and that common areas take advantage of the natural light from outdoors.”

“As Founding Members of the Green Schools Alliance, DOE schools are benchmarking their energy use and reducing their environmental impact through sustainable, energy-smart solutions,” said Peg Watson, President of the Green Schools Alliance. “NYC public schools' performance in the Green Cup Challenge places them at the forefront of student-led experiential education on energy conservation and climate change as we all work to meet the Mayor’s environmental goals.”

“Con Edison is proud to support organizations that teach young people the importance of keeping our environment clean and ensuring that New York City remains a safe, healthy place to live and work,” said David Gmach, Con Edison Director of New York City Public Affairs. These educational programs fit perfectly with our emphasis on helping our customers use less, not more, energy.”

“GrowNYC is proud to work alongside the Department of Education to ensure that we provide high-quality, high-impact programs for NYC’s young people: the next generation of civic and environmental stewards,” said Marcel Van Ooyen, Executive Director of GrowNYC. “Programs like Grow to Learn: Citywide School Gardens Initiative and Recycling Champions, both in partnership with DOE, create school-wide impacts: be it improving recycling rates for an entire school campus or getting a majority of children outside in a learning garden where insects and botany spring to life subjects like science, art and much more.”

“Congratulations to all 55 schools that participated in Solar One’s Energy Challenge. It is truly gratifying to see how much the top 3 winners saved on their electric bills – an average of a whopping 20%, as compared with the same 4 month period from the previous 2 years,” said Chris Collins, Executive Director of Solar One.  “It is also very exciting to see how the Green Design Lab™, through the strong support of the NYC Department of Education, is proving that our students, with the help of their teachers, custodians and parents, can be the grassroots engine for positive change.”

“The custodial staff and our sustainability coordinators are working hard to ensure each school recycles and conserves every day,” said John Shea, CEO of the DOE’s Division of School Facilities. “We also have great partnerships with City agencies and nonprofits to assist our schools in this effort.”

“CSA honors this year’s sustainability pioneers, all the school leaders, the teachers and especially the students who are forging the way and setting the example to conserve energy and support the campaign to create the strongest possible conservation policies,” said Ernest Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.

“The UFT is proud of the Green Cup Challenge winners and the schools that embraced sustainability programs as part of their curriculum,” said Christ Proctor, UFT director for Safety and Health. “Their ideas on how we can live in harmony with the planet are truly innovative and inspiring, and it’s these types of projects that will help make the world a better place to live. We hope to bring these sustainability programs to more students in the years to come.”

“Today on Earth day, we pause to appreciate every aspect that makes our planet beautiful, reliable, and sustainable,” said Council Member Robert Jackson, Chair of the Education Committee. “We are the faces of this planet and must work together so that together, we can continue our efforts to protect our earth.  I congratulate our students and schools for doing their part in reducing our carbon footprint and taking action in protecting the amazing planet that we call home.”

“The sustainability measures being taken by our schools is having a big impact in terms of reducing our carbon footprint, and is a big reason why our city is well on its way to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2017,” said Council Member James F. Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), chair of the City Council's Committee on Environmental Protection. “Through programs like the Solar One curriculum, we are also teaching the next generation to conserve energy and to be better stewards of our environment. I thank Chancellor Walcott for his leadership in making our schools a greener, more energy efficient and sustainable place.”

“It is important to pass on the lesson of caring for our environment to our young people,” Council Member Margaret Chin said. “Reducing the use of electricity during the school day is a skill our students can easily take home and use in their everyday lives. I want to thank Chancellor Walcott and the Green Schools Alliance for encouraging sustainable and earth-friendly practices in our public schools.”

State Senator Daniel Squadron said, “Congratulations to the Leadership and Public Service High School -- an academic leader, and now an environmental one as well! Greener schools mean a greener New York. By teaching our kids how to live green early on, we're helping to ensure that they carry those practices for the rest of their lives. Thank you to the Green Schools Alliance, DOE, and all of our colleagues working for a more sustainable New York.”

Visit the DOE’s Sustainability webpage for more information: http://schools.nyc.gov/community/facilities/sustainability/default.htm