Senate Bill 904, which was introduced by Senator Valde Garcia (R) on October 15, 2009, will amend part 25 [Environmental Education] of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to delete the criteria a school must meet in order to receive a ‘green school' title and establish new levels of ‘green-ness' for a school.
Instead of being designated as a ‘green school,' individual schools will now be classified as either ‘green,' ‘emerald,' or ‘evergreen.' The level of classification depends on if students perform 10, 15, or 20 of the required activities. Students will have to perform at least two activities from each category outlined in the Bill.
The new criteria specify, in greater detail, various types of recycling and add energy audits of the homes of students. It also requires engaging in letter writing or lobbying campaigns on environmental issues, offering classes in energy or environmental issues, creating a student environmental organization, and creating ‘eco-reading' programs.
School environmental stewardship designation would be based on four categories of activities. These categories are recycling, energy, environmental protection, and miscellaneous.
Recycling activities include composting food and organic wastes, conducting a waste-free lunch program, and/or implementing a policy to buy recycled, biodegradable, locally produced, or less toxic food and school supplies.
Required Energy activities would incorporate one teaching unit on alternative energy, using alternative energy, renewable fuels, or specialized energy-efficient technology in school operations, implementing a school energy-saving program, performing energy audits at student homes and educating student families and the community, taking part in a project or event to promote improved vehicle fuel efficiency, and/or sponsoring an alternative energy presentation, project, or event.
The Environmental Protection category would require the promotion of the health of the Great Lakes watershed, offer a teaching unit on environmental issues facing Michigan, establishing or maintaining a natural Michigan garden project with native plants, establishing or maintaining an animal habitat project, participating in a local community environmental issue by activity such as letter-writing, attending public hearings, raising funds, and/or community outreach.
Finally, Miscellaneous activities include such requirements like adopting an endangered species, hosting an environmental or energy speaker, event, or field trip, establishing a student organization that participates in environmental activities, observing Earth Day, maintaining an updated bulletin board with information on environmental concerns and the school's actions in addressing them, updating the school's media center environmental materials, and/or visiting internet sites that educate about the environment and support endangered ecosystems.
The Bill was referred to the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee on October 15, 2009 and then reported in the Senate on December 8, 2009, with the recommendation that the Bill pass.
SB 904 passed in the Senate (37-0) on December 10, 2009 and was received in the House on December 10,2009. It was then referred to the House Great Lakes and Environment Committee on December 10, 2009. It has been reported in the House in February 16, 2010, without amendment and with the recommendation that the Bill pass.