THE SEARCH is on for the 2017 sustainable and eco-friendly public and private schools in the country.

A joint project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environment Management Bureau, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education with private partners, the search is open to public elementary and high schools and private elementary, high schools and colleges.

To become sustainable and eco-friendly, these institutions must have initiated and integrated in their instruction, research, extension or administration programs which are environment-related.

Activities like developing environmental policies for the school, adopting policies and practices which foster equity, diversity and quality of life for the students, physical cleanliness, orderliness and beautification of the school, energy conservation and efficiency and electrical safety, water conservation, paper conservation or recycling, pollution control, reforestation or nursery establishment, among others can be adopted by the schools.

Launched in 2009, the project aims to encourage schools to become more actively involved in environmental issues at a practical and local level, according to Elenida Basug, chief of the environmental education and information division of the Environmental Management Bureau.

“It also aims to develop skills and understanding among the students, faculty and school administrators in initiating active responses and increasing community awareness and participation on environmental concerns,” she added.

The elementary and high school categories will be judged according to the following criteria: clear articulation and integration of social, ethical and environmental responsibility in the vision, mission and governance; environmental dimensions of school operations; environment-related features of the school curriculum; presence of vibrant eco organizations and environmental partners and linkages; socio-cultural and economic sustainability.

For the higher education category, the criteria are: clear articulation and integration of social, ethical and environmental responsibility in the vision, mission and governance; integration of social, economic and environmental sustainability across the curriculum, commitment to critical systems thinking and interdisciplinary, sustainability literacy expressed as a universal graduate attribute; campus planning, design and development structures and managed to achieve and surpass zero net carbon or water or waste; policies and practices which foster equity, diversity and quality of life within the institution;

Campus as living laboratory (student involvement in environmental learning to transform the learning environment; physical operations and maintenance focused on supporting and enabling environmental goals, including effective monitoring, reporting and continual improvement; celebration of cultural diversity and application of cultural inclusivity; dedicated research on sustainability topics; outreach and service to the wider community and student engagement.

This year, two special category leadership awards – the Nestle Waster Leadership Award which will recognize and promote solutions, practices and initiatives of schools in water management and the Meralco Energy Leadership Award which gives premium on energy efficiency and conservation.

Submission of entries in the division level will be on April 28. Two selected entries will be submitted to the EMB regional offices per school division.

Regional judging will be in May and June and the awarding of winners will be on Nov. 15.

National judging will be from August to October before the announcement of national winners in September onwards.

Regional finalists will receive P15,000 each while national winners will get P50,000 for the first prize, P40,000 for second and P30,000 for the third prize in all the categories. Winners in the special categories will receive P20,000 each. (Aileen Refuerzo/PIO)