Capital LEAF is a new recognition program for green, healthy, sustainable District schools. This initiative recognizes schools’ efforts to increase sustainability and environmental education efforts and empower youth to take actions that will reduce environmental impact and improve the health and wellness of their school and community. The Capital LEAF program demonstrates how District schools can complement, enhance, and inform ongoing environmental efforts by:
- Reducing schools’ and the District’s environmental footprint, conserving resources, decreasing consumption and waste, and creating green school settings, a healthy indoor environment, and a culture of sustainability;
- Appropriately connecting curricula with operations and facilities management, encouraging collaboration between teachers, administrators; and community stakeholders to improve students’ experiences and integrate learning-in-action; and
- Empowering students to use the knowledge and skills gained through these experiences to make informed choices and generate positive change in their households and community.
By participating in Capital LEAF, schools monitor progress on their journey to develop a green and healthy school environment. Schools engage students, staff, and the community to collect evidence, document changes in school culture, and celebrate successes. The program is designed to support requirements of the DC Healthy Schools Act, DC Environmental Literacy Plan, Sustainable DC 2.0, and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, and provides a pathway for schools to become nominated for US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon School recognition.
- Landscape survey template: use this tool to conduct a self-assessment for activities currently taking place at your school
- Teacher survey template: suggested questions to be integrated into a survey to send to your colleagues
- Energy: Measures and analyzes ways to conserve energy and reduce our carbon footprint, such as energy consumption, emissions, and climate change.
- Health and Nutrition: Promotes healthy lifestyles, including nutrition, physical activity, mental health, and school climate.
- Physical Environment: Identifies relationships between human health and buildings, such as indoor air quality, drinking water, and cleaning products.
- Schoolyard Habitat: Promotes watershed health and landscaping that supports biodiversity, while encouraging outdoor learning spaces.
- Transportation: Identifies and promotes safe and alternative ways to get to school.
- Waste: Promotes the “4-Rs” of refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle; also includes composting.
Capital LEAF was developed in partnership with the Department of General Services, the Department of Energy and Environment, DC Public Schools, and the DC Environmental Education Consortium. In 2020, six District schools piloted the application materials and the Environmental Literacy Leadership Cadre helped create the resource pages.