Posted at 2:05 PM
Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews provided opening remarks at the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools awards ceremony. The 2016 awardees include 73 schools from 25 states and the District of Columbia that have demonstrated significant progress in improving their environmental impacts and costs, improving health and wellness for students and staff, and enhancing environmental and sustainability education.
In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted the importance of providing our children with healthy, sustainable learning environments to ensure a more sustainable future. Deputy Secretary Andrews emphasized the Department of Commerce’s commitment to building a sustainable future, focusing on efforts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to foster environmental awareness through programs like “Science on a Sphere” and “Teacher at Sea.”
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you for that warm welcome, Andrea, and for all of your work to create sustainable schools. Under your leadership, this program has spurred a sea change of environmental sustainability in schools across the country. I also want to thank Secretary John King for his leadership and continued commitment to the Green Ribbon Schools program. I am also pleased to welcome Christine Harada, our Federal Chief Sustainability Officer. Of course, the real stars of today’s event are this year’s awardees. I congratulate each of you on this achievement, and welcome you to the Department of Commerce.
The Green Ribbon Schools program was founded on a simple premise: When we provide healthy, sustainable learning environments for our children, we build a healthier, more sustainable future for our country. Today, we celebrate 73 honorees from 25 states and the District of Columbia. You represent different regions of our country. You serve diverse student bodies. And you serve communities with distinct needs. Yet you all demonstrate a commitment to environmental excellence. Your schools prove that any school across America can make a real commitment to going green. And the results are paying off – literally. Some of your districts are saving millions of dollars by enhancing energy efficiency and improving student health and achievement.
I know these efforts require real dedication. Here at the Department of Commerce, we’re in the process of going green as well. Like many of you, we aspire to achieve LEED Gold Certification. Part of this building’s major renovations includes investing in occupancy sensors for lights, installing green roofs and low-flow plumbing fixtures, and switching to environmentally sustainable food containers, utensils, and cleaning products. Of course, the Department of Commerce’s work promoting environmental sustainability and energy efficiency extends far beyond this building.
Secretary Penny Pritzker has made the environment one of the five strategic pillars in our Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” Across our 12 bureaus, each day we work to turn challenges like climate change into opportunities for all Americans. At the National Institute of Standards and Technology, engineers are creating tools to measure carbon emissions in real-time. At the International Trade Administration, Top Markets Reports identify opportunities overseas for American exporters in sectors like environmental technology and renewable energy. At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, our scientists collect and supply the data that businesses, communities, and entire countries use to prepare for severe weather, droughts, and other environmental challenges.
A cornerstone of NOAA’s mission is to educate and foster environmental awareness. That makes us a natural ally of the Green Ribbon Schools program. Every year, thousands of students and teachers benefit from NOAA’s vast resources. For example, Data modeling technologies like “Science on a Sphere” place global weather visualizations at students’ fingertips. Federal grants fund real-world environmental learning experiences for students of all ages. Professional development programs like “Teacher at Sea” bring educators aboard NOAA research ships to learn from world-renowned scientists. These are just a few examples of how NOAA supports environmental education. I encourage everyone to explore ocean guardians, weather ambassadors, and the many other educational initiatives we offer through NOAA.
At the Department of Commerce, we work every day to help our businesses and our people succeed in today’s global economy. Whether a child becomes an oceanographer or a smart grid engineer, many jobs of the future are linked to the future help of our planet. Programs like Green Ribbon Schools immerse and expose our children to the critical STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Our Economics and Statistics Administration has found that jobs in STEM-related fields are growing at nearly double the rate as non-STEM occupations, workers in these innovative fields bring home higher wages than Americans in other fields, and more than two-thirds of STEM workers have at least a college degree, compared to less than one-third workers in other fields. Simply put: programs like Green Ribbon Schools are good for our students, good for our environment, and good for our economy.
I want to close by not only by congratulating you, but also by thanking you for your leadership. Like many of you, I believe we all have a role to play in providing the next generation a safer and healthier climate. We all have had teachers that shaped us into the individuals we are today. We know the difference that a passionate teacher with a well-crafted lesson plan can make in the life of a child. As Green Ribbon Schools, you serve as models to communities nationwide. You prove that vital concepts like sustainability and environmental impact can be taught to students of every age, in every community across the country. And you inspire and equip young people with the skills they need to solve problems, innovate, and overcome the environmental challenges we face as a country and a world. Thank you.