Lanier Middle School has been awarded permanent status as a Green Flag School by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) as part of the Eco-Schools USA program. Lanier Middle School, located in the City of Fairfax, is a Fairfax County public school.
The school earned its fourth Green Flag in 2018, earning it permanent status as a Green Flag School. Teachers, students, parents, and community members initiated the Eco-Schools process in November 2009, earning the school a silver award and its first Green Flag award in 2010. Lanier was the first school in Virginia and the third school in the U.S. to earn a Green Flag award. Subsequent Green Flags were awarded in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
“Eco-Schools USA takes a holistic approach: ‘greening’ the school building, the school grounds, and the curriculum and student experience,” says Faiza Alam, Lanier Middle science teacher. “It is designed to help schools in a variety of ways, including saving money, reducing waste, and improving student academic performance and environmental awareness.” Many schools have implemented the Eco-Schools USA program since NWF became the host in late 2008. The Green Flag is the highest level a school can achieve.
Lanier’s student-led team focused on various environmental issues, such as energy, water and paper conservation, recycling, and school grounds enhancement with an environmental focus. Many school-wide audits related to these pathways led to various green initiatives, resulting in measurable reduction in waste and energy use, increased biodiversity and recycling, and, above all, a school-wide, eco-friendly culture.
The school’s commitment to sustainability can be found in everything from reducing the environmental impact of the building and students to green cleaning practices and enhanced civic engagement. Environmental sustainability is used as a focus for projects in art, Family and Consumer Sciences, physical science, and the school newspaper. In 2006, Lanier became the first middle school in Fairfax County to require all seventh graders to participate in an environmental stewardship project, which became the model for other Fairfax County Public Schools middle schools.
In order to become an Eco-School, schools must establish a seven-step framework that includes establishing an eco-team, conducting an environmental audit, developing an eco-action plan, monitoring and evaluating progress, connecting to the curriculum, engaging the whole school and community, and developing an eco-code. Schools can then choose from one of 12 pathways. Nominees are evaluated by NWF staff to determine their eligibility for a Green Flag.