The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council has announced its second annual "Best of Green Schools" list.

"We've seen an impressive commitment on the part of schools, communities and leaders to make the places where our children learn healthy and safe, while putting money back into the classrooms where it belongs," says Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools.

The recipients of the Best of Green Schools 2012:

  • K-12 Schools — Manzo Elementary in Tuscon, Ariz., and the Living Building Science Wing at Bertschi School in Seattle.

    The Reconciliation Ecology Project at Manzo Elementary promotes stewardship, healthful choices and innovation in learning and educational facilities. "Manzo has used all of its green initiatives to enhance learning and as the basis for its counseling program, while empowering its students to become sustainability natives and future advocates for their communities," the center says.

    Bertschi's Living Building Science Wing is the first project in the world built to the Living Building Challenge v2.0 standards and in an urban setting. A 20-kilowatt photovoltaic system produces all of the electricity for the building and enables students to monitor energy use in the building, the center says. All water needed for the building is produced and treated on site.

  • 2-Year Higher Education Institution — Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan.

    The community college has received LEED certification for one building and is in the process of certifying two more; it has created technology programs around solar technology, energy auditing and sustainable agriculture.

  • 4-Year Higher Education Institution — Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.

    "Sustainability lessons are incorporated not only into classroom curriculum, but also into the rest of the campus environment — including its architecture, landscapes and campus culture," the center says. "Oberlin hosts the largest solar array of any private, four-year liberal arts college in the United States."

  • School District — Virginia Beach (Va.) City Public Schools.

    LEED projects in the district total more than 1.5 million square feet of building space. In addition, the district has 21 Energy Star schools totaling 2.3 million square feet of building space, the center says.

  • Moment for the Movement — International Green Schools Movement.

    For the first Green Apple Day of Service, 49 countries came together to celebrate the importance of healthy, high-performing schools.

  • Ambassador — Frederick E. Harris, Vice Chancellor of College Finance and Facilities Planning for California Community Colleges.

    "Harris supports and advocates for opportunities to utilize all campuses as living labs to demonstrate principles of green buildings, adopting clean processes for all operations," says the center.

  • Community-Based Event — Public Purpose Fair, Westminster School in Atlanta.

    Westminster's 1,850 students and more than 200 faculty and staff participated in the Public Purpose Fair in March 2012. The a campus-wide event of service projects and assemblies focused on how the school community can strive to make a better world through courses, programs and co-curricular experiences.

  • Collaboration — Connecticut Green Leaf Schools Program.

    The program encourages K-12 schools to create and improve their environmental and sustainability education, enhance the health and wellness of students and staff, and reduce the environmental impact of their buildings.