Education Environment

Three of Peninsula’s new elementary buildings recognized as ‘green’ schools

Posted on February 4th, 2022 By:

Three of the four new school buildings constructed in Peninsula School District since January 2021 have been recognized by a federal program for their light environmental footprint.

Pioneer, Swift Water and Evergreen elementary schools are being honored through the 2022 U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program. Schools selected excel in one or more of the criteria: reduced environmental impact and costs, improved health and wellness of students and staff, or providing effective education on sustainability and the environment.

exterior of pioneer elementary school in gig harbor

Pioneer Elementary School, which opened in January 2021, is one of four new elementary schools in Peninsula School District paid for by a bond approved in 2019. Christina T Henry / Gig Harbor Now

Peninsula School District announced Friday that it had been notified of the honor by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Environment and Sustainability Education Program. A state committee that reviewed applications from schools and districts named the three Peninsula schools among Washington State Green Leaders.

The state committee scores applications and selects schools and districts that excel in one or more of the three criteria or “pillars” of the federal program. The committee can nominate up to five schools or districts for a national award.

Peninsula’s schools will be recognized by Washington/OSPI as follows:
• Evergreen Elementary: Green Leader in Pillar I (Reduced Environmental Impact and Cost), and Pillar II (Health and Wellness)
• Pioneer Elementary: Green Leader in Pillar III (Integrated Environmental and Sustainability Education)
• Swift Water Elementary: Green Leader in Pillar II (Health and Wellness)

“We are proud of our schools for their wonderful achievements,” said Peninsula Assistant Superintendent John Hellwich. “Administrators, teachers, parents and students are working together to arm our students with the knowledge they need to act on behalf of our planet.”

In the coming weeks, OSPI will meet with the schools’ administrative leadership teams to discuss next steps for their programs.

State finalists and national award recipients may attend several statewide events, will receive an award, and join a state team of green leaders. National award recipients will also be invited to attend a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Workers pave the parking lot at the new Evergreen Elementary School on Key Peninsula

Evergreen Elementary School on Key Peninsula Christina T Henry / Gig Harbor Now

Neither the state nor federal awards come with any money. The goal is to highlight promising sustainability practices that can be replicated in other schools and districts.

The pillar related to environmental impact looks at schools that reduce waste, conserve water and energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For the health and wellness pillar, schools are rated with consideration to air quality, contaminant control, acoustics, daylighting, thermal comfort, school nutrition and outdoor physical activity. The pillar related to sustainability looks at how schools offer hands-on, real-world learning, civic engagement, STEM connections and green career preparation.

The district’s 2019 bond provided $198.5 million for four new elementary schools. Pioneer was a new school completed in January 2021 and is a major expansion and renovation of the former Boys & Girls Club. Swift Water, a new school, and Evergreen Elementary, which replaced the old Evergreen building, were ready at the start of school in September 2021.

A replacement for the old Artondale Elementary was completed in November.

Cost savings plus state match money will allow the district to use 2019 bond money for renovations of Kopachuck Middle School and Key Peninsula Middle School. Both or those projects are under way and expected to be completed by 2023.