Energy and Sustainability

Updated on Tue, 07/07/2020 - 10:49am

Energy & Sustainability is responsible for managing utility use and for promoting Social, Economic and Environmental Sustainability for the district.  Initiatives include energy use reduction projects and program, water conservation efforts and waste diversion improvement and education.

We're taking steps to "go green." That means our schools and district departments are working to be wise stewards of our resources. Learn how we are becoming a more sustainable district--and how you can do your part.

Vision Statement

Adams 12 Five Star Schools will develop sustainable practices in our schools and community that will benefit future generations. This will be accomplished through environmental stewardship and education, leaving a smaller footprint on the world.

Sustainability Management Plan

During the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year, a Sustainability Planning Committee was convened to produce the first sustainability plan for Adams 12 Five Star Schools. The committee was a diverse group of more than 30 Five Star employees and community members that met on multiple occasions to develop a sustainability vision statement, and set goals around the plan’s four focus areas: energy, water, waste and student/community engagement. The outcome of this undertaking, the sustainability management plan (SMP), will guide the Five Star District’s development and integration of sustainable practices into the district’s culture through fiscal year 2020.

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Sustainability Report

Five Star SustainABLE, the district's sustainability report, seeks to inform the Five Star Community on energy reduction, water use reduction, waste reduction, student engagement and cost-saving measures we’re taking to improve operations throughout the district.

Read the newest issue of the Sustainability Report.

A Sustainable Focus

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The largest utility costs for the school district include expenses for purchased electricity and natural gas, comprising roughly 70% of our utility budget. These areas therefore have the greatest potential for saving the district money. Efforts to reduce our energy use, and thereby reduce our energy costs, cover maintenance of existing equipment, replacement of old equipment with newer, more efficient models, monitoring energy use and educating our community around their behavioral impacts to energy use.
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Now our second most costly utility, behind only electricity, water is a rapidly growing expense for the district. While trends in water use across the district have stayed relatively flat, multiple year increases in rates are causing our team to look more closely on how we use this precious resource. This includes our technical guidelines, which require Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense® labeled, low-flow fixtures for all new installations and end-of-life replacements. We have also reduced our area of irrigated turf by installing synthetic turf fields at several of our facilities, drastically reducing the amount of water required for those spaces. Finally, we have a Water Resource Specialist role in the district, focused entirely on managing our irrigation systems and identifying areas for further conversion to water wise landscapes.
waste management
Often the first target of sustainability efforts, reducing the amount of waste that goes to the landfill is a well-established practice at Five Star Schools. Recycling programs at the school level have been in place for many years throughout the district, although we only began tracking diversion data in 2016. Waste diversion through warehouse operations is also highly efficient with multiple waste diversion streams including commingled recycling, book and furniture auctioning, metals recycling and hazardous waste management. Additional efforts growing around the district are focused on getting composting programs into our schools and working with Nutrition Services to reduce food waste.
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Fuel efficiency in both our bus fleet and maintenance vehicle fleet are an important component of sustainability. These sources are a large contributor to our greenhouse gas inventory, and represent a significant cost as well. Through intelligent contract negotiation, our maintenance vehicle fleet is almost entirely on lease agreements that allow us to ensure we have the most up-to-date vehicles to maintain our facilities while providing improved fuel efficiency. In our bus fleet, movement toward more propane buses allows for lower costs while reducing our environmental impact from vehicle emissions.
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Student and Community Engagement
Student and community engagement on sustainability efforts is not new to Five Star Schools. Multiple green teams or environmental clubs currently exist working on topics such as recycling, composting, community service projects, school gardens, energy challenges and environmental education. Several schools, through student-led teams, earned recognition in past years through the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools program, participated in activities with Eco-Cycle, and participated in activities hosted by a variety of local and regional groups focused on environmental education and sustainability activities.

For more information regarding the Energy & Sustainability team contact Shannon Oliver, Energy and Sustainability Manager.