12/16/2011 12:21 pm ET

Green Schools 2011 List Announced

Going green is cool enough for schools. The Best of Green Schools 2011 list was released this week, commending educational institutions around the country for embracing environmental initiatives.

School administrators and government leaders were recognized in 10 categories for a "variety of sustainable, cost-cutting measures, including energy conservation, record numbers of LEED® certified buildings and collaborative platforms and policies to green U.S. school infrastructure," according to a press release by Center for Green Schools at U.S. Green Building Council.

The press release stated:

According to published reports, green schools save on average $100,000 per year on operating costs - enough to hire two new teachers, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 textbooks. On average, green schools use 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than conventionally constructed schools, and if all new U.S. school construction and renovation went green today, the total energy savings alone would be $20 billion over the next 10 years.

As students headed back into the school season this year, many were met with greener schools. A new elementary school in Lexington, Kentucky was lit by solar tubes and had toilets that flushed with collected rainwater.

Green schools are making their mark around the world. The first of 20 sustainable schools popped up in the Gaza Strip. According to Inhabitat, the schools will provide peace of mind for students and parents who worry whether their children can go to school if the electricity or water supplies are cut off amid political or financial issues.

In the UK, the students themselves want to learn more about the environment than traditional subjects like history or math, according to a survey from earlier this year.

Check out the slideshow below to see who was acknowledged in each category for 2011's Best Of Green Schools. All captions courtesy of Center for Green Schools at U.S. Green Building Council.