Living Campuses & Community Centers

The environment is an integral part of what we do. Our inspiring and interactive living campuses bring learning to life while also serving as a model of sustainable living and ecological design for the entire community.

ECS is the recipient of the first-ever US Department of Education Green Ribbon.  ECS received the inaugural Green Ribbon Award in 2010 for our best practices to reduce environmental impact and costs; improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and provide effective environmental and sustainability education.

ECS is a founding member of the Green Schools National Network and a part of the Catalyst Network. Learn more here. Examples of our Green Best Practice are described below in further detail.

If we build campuses like they have always been built, students will graduate solving problems that have always been solved.  If we build them differently, valuing sustainability, community, and innovation, then our students will begin to imagine new possibilities.

What’s the Latest at ECS – Green News

Green Newsletter – Winter 2022

Green Newsletter – Spring 2021

Green Newsletter – Winter 2021

Green Newsletter – September 2020

Green Newsletter – June 2020

Green Newsletter – April 2020

Green Newsletter – February 2020

Our Practices

  • We grow our own organic food in our edible gardens.
  • Our campuses feature hundreds of fruit trees, which serve as free vending machines.
  • Our school lunches promote healthy growth and sustainability. Provided by School Nutrition Plus, they are made from real, locally-sourced foods and served on reusable lunch trays.

  • We have a living stream, filled with fish and filtration plants, it also provides many hands-on science lessons.
  • We have chickens and bunnies on campus that are cared for by our students.
  • We have a living wall, which not only cools our classroom, but also provides food.
  • Our aquaponics system feeds our nursery using nutrient-rich, plant-filtered water from tilapia.

  • We divert 42% of our waste through on-site composting and recycling programs.
  • All vendors on our campus are styrofoam-free.
  • We use post-consumer product paper and reward double-sided printing.
  • We recycle our print cartridges, host e-waste collection programs and have battery-recycling receptacles on campus.

  • We collect and harvest rainwater in rain barrels and a have a 1,700 gallon underground cistern.
  • Our school landscaping features a living stream, arroyo riverbeds and swales to help minimize urban runoff.
  • Our plants are local, native and drought tolerant.
  • Our bathroom sinks have timers and some have low-flow flush technology.
  • We have smart irrigation systems that adjust watering time based on weather conditions.

  • Our buildings are LEED-inspired and some are LEED-certified.
  • Our campuses feature outdoor classrooms, and about 25% of our students’ day is spent outside.
  • We’ve reduced energy use in our buildings by 25% as a result of installing timers and sensors on our lights, upgrading our buildings to reduce the need for heating and cooling and installing solar panels.
  • We reduce carbon emissions by composting on campus, planting trees and by using energy-efficient products.

  • We have programs on campus that encourage students to walk, ride their bikes or carpool to school.
  • We have an on-campus bike shop where students can learn how to build and fix their own bikes with the help of our community partner, Beach City Cycles.
  • Students, staff and families can rent or borrow bikes that have been donated and refurbished by our students.

Environmental Education in Action

Outdoor Education

At ECS, nature serves as a living lab to foster academic and personal growth. Each year, all students grades 6 to 12 participate in an overnight outdoor trip promoting environmental awareness, positive peer relationships, self-confidence, trust building and a personal connection to their natural environment.

Green Ambassadors

Green Ambassadors is an environmental education and service-learning program that empowers young people to be agents of change and to take action locally to make a measurable difference in their communities. Students in grades 6-8 and grade 10 develop leadership skills while addressing the critical environmental issues facing their own communities in Southern California including water conservation, water quality, air quality, open space conservation, food sovereignty and exposure to toxic substances such as chemical pesticides.

Earth Carnival

Each year, Environmental Charter High School welcomes close to 700 local elementary and middle school students to campus for Earth Carnival. ECHS students lead creative games, activities and informative lessons about sustainable living, alternative energy, gardening and local foods. Visitors also experience our Green Ribbon campus through our living stream, chickens, green house, aquaponics, fruit tree forest, native and edible gardens and worm bins.

Hike the Hill

ECS students travel to Washington, D.C. with the Pacific Crest Trail Association to advocate for access to public land, environmental education, youth engagement, jobs in a green economy and outdoor education. Since 2007, groups of ECHS students have taken weekend service trips to the Pacific Crest Trail in the Angeles National Forest and San Bernardino Mountains to maintain existing trails and build new trails.