Photo: Marshall County Schools
The West Virginia Chapter of USGBC has a greener horizon in mind for the state’s famous mountain skyline, and this future starts within the walls of its schools. Following its establishment in recent years, the chapter spurred support for the construction of LEED facilities to create more sustainable communities for everyone. LEED accreditation became an important component of the state’s school building design, which soon led to the creation of a division of the WV Department of Education that provides oversight for the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program, West Virginia Sustainable Schools. These efforts created profound effects throughout West Virginia in the form of five LEED school buildings, eight Green Ribbon Schools, and a District Sustainability Award.
To foster sustainable thinking for the coming generations, the West Virginia USGBC Chapter and Green Building Alliance collaborated with schools in GBA’s School Sustainability Culture Program with help from a 2014 Impact Grant from USGBC. Ten West Virginia schools have participated as cohort schools and/or Culture Program grant schools, sponsored by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. Participant schools and their key foci within the project include the following:
Marshall County (U.S. Department of Education District Sustainability Award winner)
Hilltop Elementary (LEED)
A National Green Ribbon School, Hilltop is organizing their multiple green projects, such as gardens, recycling, healthy foods, and community connections into a project that promotes lifelong sustainability.
Sherrard is working on vertically articulating sustainability education continuing the work of Hilltop. They are also integrating greenhouse technologies into the school food program while promoting the county project around a district wide recycling program. Their “Project Lead the Way” instructor is driving the greenhouse and culture programs at the school.
Moundsville Middle School is an urban middle school that is focused on community and school recycling while promoting sustainability culture in other projects as well. An MMS principal is acting as the leadership liaison with district leadership.
John Marshall High School
John Marshall, the largest high school in Marshall County and one of the largest in West Virginia, has underwent comprehensive renovations, including LED lighting retrofits, more sustainable materials in classroom design, and new food delivery systems. John Marshall will be a hub for district wide recycling because of its location in the district. They are also infusing the “Act Locally, Think Globally” approach to their Advanced Placement human geography project that will collaborate with other AP classes to emphasize sustainability literacy.
Cameron High School (LEED)
A National Green Ribbon School, CHS has multiple green projects at their school, including recycling programs, trail systems for outdoor education, a food processing project, and student leadership programming. They will host a Community Health Fair this spring with a sustainability theme. Their “Project Lead the Way” program has an Environment Sustainability course focused on STEM careers and is supported by a strong green team of faculty and staff members.
One of the top academic performing schools in West Virginia, Steenrod features health education and a team of green teachers. Steenrod has gardening programs, recycling programs, healthy foods programming, and uses instructional design at each grade level to promote sustainability literacy.
Triadelphia Middle School
Triadelphia serves a very diverse student population, including all students from Steenrod. They will be working with Steenrod to establish a county wide sustainability fair during the week of Earth Day this Spring. The assistant principal and wellness coach at the school are driving this initiative.
Eastwood Elementary (LEED)
Eastwood in a National Green Ribbon School and has a robust green team that is driving more than a half dozen school wide sustainability projects. Culture is their key focus as they immerse their students to challenge their mindsets and collaborate with other district schools as part of the Culture Program grant.
Tucker County High School
TCHS is initiating a community sustainability program that puts students into businesses across the district as consultants. This mentoring program has an entrepreneurial focus and will be utilizing “Project Lead the Way” teachers and students in designing a more sustainable future for the students and the community.
Doddridge County High School
The agriculture education teacher has taken the culture program from Cameron High School to his new school. In the program, students develop a composting business and share that technology with local farmers.
In addition to these schools, other facilities statewide have also achieved LEED credentials, particularly government buildings and conservation facilities. The West Virginia USGBC has made a promising start on its mission of promoting green spaces through these ongoing projects, and works to inspire a new generation of sustainable thinkers within its school walls.