It's a fact that's not exactly bright green: By age 15, more than 40% of U.S. students have a sub-par understanding of environmental science, at least according to this report .
However, this week, the Department of Education announced its plan to improve that stat via its new Green Ribbon Program .
The program's goal is twofold: first, to produce a generation of environmentally literate students and second, to lower schools' carbon footprint. The DoE hopes this will produce students that are ready to face the world's challenges and find solutions — and reduce energy costs by as much as $1 billion per year.
Schools will be evaluated based on energy-conservation efforts, healthy learning spaces, and environmental curriculum; the DoE will release specific criteria for the award later this year. James Elder, the director for the Campaign for Environmental Literacy , hopes for an integrated approach: "Understanding the natural science is only half the equation," he said. "The other half is understanding social sciences. My hope is that it will emphasize the interactions between natural and human systems, and that the process will be hands-on."