Making schools more sustainable provides a healthier learning environment for children, and saves money, which our districts desperately need. The US Green Building Council - C4 (California Central Coast Chapter) Green Schools Action Group began this past school year with the primary mission of engaging the community to raise awareness and educate on all aspects of Green Schools. The idea is simple: participation from everyone, including, students, parents, PTA’s, teachers, custodial staff, government leaders, district administrators and facilities director, utility providers, and industry specialists.
Last September a kick-off meeting was held with over 80 participants from all over the County representing a full spectrum of the community. At this time a program called Seminars for Success was launched. This was a series of seminars, which were to be topical meetings on issues such as recycling or water conservation held each month during the school year. Each meeting had a panel of 5-7 specialists in that field from different perspectives. The Green Schools Action Group was able to secure dynamic speakers for each slot on every panel. For example Sylvan Levin the Environmental Club Advisor at Mission College Prep, John Ewan from Pacific Energy Company, and County Supervisor Adam Hill were a few of the notable speakers
This integrated approach to dialogue led to increased awareness of the potential benefits of integrating sustainability in our schools as a discussion in nearly every district. Some highlights from our local districts have included:
- •· Lucia Mar Unified School District paved the way two years ago when hiring the first Sustainability Coordinator in the County. This blueprint and fiscal case study illustrated over $120,000 cost savings annually in the first year of implementation. Jeff Guy, Director of Facilities, Operations and Transportation for
- •· San Luis Coastal Unified School District participated in many of the Green Schools Action Group Seminars and has carried out an ambitious plan to add solar to a number of schools this year and has begun to implement conservation measures throughout the District
- •· Stu Stoddard, Director of Support Services at Atascadero Unified School District offered many creative low to no cost measures that can be taken. He explained how simple things such as sending out a clever email to faculty and staff before the holiday break requesting that electronics be powered down can have a cumulative cost savings.
- •· Templeton Superintendent of Schools Joe Koski celebrated his one-year anniversary in February. He has lead with innovation on many fronts. In the past the district has had an aggressive recycling plan and other measures; however they have now have hired Chris Bonin as the new Supervisor of Maintenance, Operations, Construction & Sustainability to continue development of these initiatives.
Erin Inglish and Jennifer McIntyre, Green Schools Action Group Co-Chairs are excited to keep the momentum of an integrated approach going with additional speakers, community dialogue and action, helping our community to realize that Green Schools can saves dollars and makes good sense.