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News Releases

Furman Univ. and Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School Honored by the U.S. Department of Education as ‘Green Ribbon’ Schools

April 24, 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Furman University and Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School (CREECS) in Greenville and Charleston counties, respectively, have been nationally recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) for their environmentally conscious programming. 

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), in partnership with the S.C. Department of Education (SCDE) and the S.C. Commission on Higher Education (SCCHE) nominated Furman University and CREECS as USDE Green Ribbon Schools for 2020. Each school is being recognized for its outstanding efforts to reduce its environmental impacts and utility costs, improve the health and wellness of students and staff, and develop effective, hands-on learning experiences in sustainability.

“SCDHEC is thankful for the opportunity to help South Carolina schools receive much-deserved recognition for their efforts in sustainability and health promotion,” said Rhonda Thompson, Chief of SCDHEC’s Bureau of Air Quality. “Both Furman and CREECS have demonstrated their commitment to protecting human and environmental health, and we hope many more South Carolina schools will follow their example.”

Furman has implemented numerous environmental and public health-focused programs and initiatives. Some of Furman’s efforts include the following:

  • The Living Machine: A tidal wetland wastewater treatment system that treats campus wastewater and uses the treated water for toilet flushing in the school’s science center.
  • Community Conservation Corps (CCC): A student-driven initiative which performs energy efficiency weatherizations free of charge to homes of qualifying underserved area residents.
  • Institute for the Advancement of Community Health (IACH): A formal partnership with Prisma Health System, Clemson University, and the University of South Carolina designed to help educate healthcare professionals and foster research and partnerships that strengthen community health. 

“For decades, Furman has made institutional sustainability a priority,” said Weston Dripps, Executive Director of the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities. “Embracing sustainability in higher education is a win for everyone. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to lead efforts to create a sustainable future.”

Some examples of CREECS’s efforts include the following:

  • A waste-free lunch program which rewards students for bringing all reusable containers and compostable items in their lunch boxes. Students are taught about alternatives to single-use items and hold competitions to see which class can show the greatest improvement in trash-reduction in their lunches over the course of the year.
  • A Monarch butterfly waystation and pollinator garden where students care for native plants which attract butterflies, bees, and other helpful pollinators.
  • Approximately 1.5 hours each day is dedicated to outdoor physical and environmental education. This allows students time to be active outside either playing sports, working in CREECS’s organic vegetable garden, or helping care for the school’s animals.

“Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School was founded on the principles of community, love of place, and environmental stewardship. The faculty and staff of CREECS continue to be committed to these principles through teaching the importance of ecological conservation and sustainability,” said Margaret Crouch, Principal at CREECS.

The intent of USDE Green Ribbons Schools is to inspire schools to strive for 21st-century excellence by highlighting promising sustainability practices. Each spring, the USDE announces the newest schools across the nation which have met the program’s standards.

Information about USDE Green Ribbon Schools in South Carolina, including the applications submitted by Furman and CREECS, can be found at Additional information about USDE Green Ribbon Schools is available at



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