Return to Headlines

Switlik Elementary School Earns National "Green Ribbon School" Award from U.S. Department of Education - One of Only Two Schools in the State!

Switlik Elementary School Wins U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Award

April 22, 2021

The Jackson School District is proud to share that the United States Department of Education announced today that the Swilitk Elementary School has earned the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools Award for its innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness and ensure effective sustainability education. The school is one of only two in New Jersey to win this award.

"This is an incredible accomplishment and one that is so meaningful because it was earned through the collaboration of so many people within the Switlik school community and district,'' said Superintendent of Schools Nicole Pormilli. "We are so proud of Switlik and of all the students, staff and administrators who work hard every day to ensure we are finding ways to care for our planet and each other.''

The school was cited for its behavior-based energy conservation and facility improvements, which reduced energy consumption by 16%. This equates to a $2.5 million in savings over the past four years and an Energy Star rating of 96. The school received a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant to construct a greenhouse and also installed two water bottle filling stations averting 18,000 plastic water bottles to date.

Switlik Principal Kathleen McKiernan said the award was the result of a true team effort at the school.

“This is a wonderful building, with wonderful people and I could not be more proud of them,’’ McKiernan said. “Switlik is filled with such passionate and committed educators, staff and students and any positive light that shines on them is much deserved and appreciated.’’

Pormilli said she is thrilled that the "Green Team" at Switlik has been recognized for their passion and commitment to sustainability. She said the projects and initiatives at Switlik are part of a purposeful and structured district's energy program, which focuses on finding innovative and creative ways to save money and create a culture of responsibility and accountability throughout the district. 

"This national recognition caps off a banner year for us,'' she said. "A month ago we earned a $1.1 million grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to purchase two electric-powered garbage trucks that were sorely needed and we receive annual recognition in the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program for our initiatives. We're just very proud of all we have going on in our energy program."

Initiatives in the district's Energy Program include:

  • The district has implemented a district-wide $27 MILLION ESIP (Energy Savings Improvement Project) replacing and improving inefficient building mechanicals and adding energy-saving tools. These projects are funded solely by energy savings.
  • Participating in a Demand Response Program generating approximately $84,000 in revenue this year.
  • The district held two Reverse Energy Auctions to secure the lowest cost for our electricity and natural gas. This resulted in a 2-cent-per-kilowatt savings and the stabilization of natural gas pricing
  • As part of the ESIP program, the district reduces its carbon footprint by replacing outdated equipment including oil-fired boilers and has solar generation at ten additional locations
  • 7 schools are Bronze Certified and Elms Elementary and Liberty High School are Silver Certified through the Sustainable Jersey for Schools Program. The district has already received 18 grants as a result of our participation in this program.
  • Energy Program and Energy Education Specialist John Blair has increased energy savings through progressive monitoring, education, strategic planning, energy auditing and ESIP participation.

Learn More About WHY Switlik Earned This Award


Watch Our Video of Switlik's Green Initiatives

Snapshot of Green Ribbon Video for Switlik



Read the Highlights of Switlik's Program from the Department of Education's Honoree Report  

(Switlik Info Begins on Page 81)

Honoree Report Cover


Check out information from the U.S. Department of Education's Announcement:

April 22, 2021

Contact: Press Office

(202) 401-1576 or


Two New Jersey Schools Named U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Award Honors Schools, Districts, and Postsecondary Institutions for Reducing Environmental Impact and Costs, Improving Health and Wellness, Offering Effective Sustainability Education

The U.S. Department of Education today released the names of the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.

In New Jersey, Winslow Township Middle School in Atco and Switlik Elementary School in Jackson were named U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.

Across the country, 27 schools, three early learning centers, five districts, and five postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. 

“The pandemic has driven home the vital importance of school buildings and grounds; health and wellness; and hands-on authentic learning,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.  “I congratulate the selected schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions, which are, through their sustainability practices, offering healthy, safe, efficient school environments and protecting our planet.  Not surprisingly, many of our honorees support students in underserved communities, proving once again that green schools’ practices, encompassing best practices school operations, health, and environmental learning, are critical tools to advance equity.”

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 20 states. The selectees include 24 public schools – among them, five charter schools and one magnet school – as well as three nonpublic schools. Over half of the 2021 honorees are in communities where over 40 percent of the student body are eligible for free and reduced lunch.  

The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 40 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.