In its "Whole-School Sustainability Framework" document, the Center for Green Schools, of the U.S. Green Building Council, asserts that sustainability in public schools can be achieved through three interdependent principles: organizational culture, physical place, and educational program. The sustainability initiatives of PAUSD take this guiding advice to heart, and address sustainability in these three critical areas, in a way that brings together collaboration among District leadership, staff, students, parents, and the broader community.
Since 2011, PAUSD has run a robust energy conservation program. Through this program, the District has endeavored to reduce consumption of electricity, natural gas, and water. To date, PAUSD has achieved nearly 25% reduction across these utilities, which, over the entire program, has helped avoid over $3.5 million in utility spending. This program is based on behavior change; in other words, no direct capital investment has been necessary to achieve this level of energy conservation. The energy conservation commitment of PAUSD is backed in school board policy. Conserving energy is considered a responsibility of every member of our district's community.
PAUSD has undertaken a series of steps to respond to the drought restriction goals set by our water provider, the City of Palo Alto. In 2013, we replaced all regular flow aerators on hand-washing sinks and showers with low-flow models, essentially cutting the flow from these sinks and showers in half.
PAUSD has reduced all exterior building washing, bus washing, and outdoor surface (red top, sidewalk, etc.) to essential functions only. If the health or safety of students or staff is jeopardized by an unclean area, use of water is appropriate. Prompted by the ongoing statewide drought, the PAUSD landscape department has been hard at work all summer converting turf lawns to drought-resistant plants in the district's largest water-reduction initiative.
To date, we have converted 25,000 square feet of lawn to native and drought tolerant vegetation.
Update: We have resumed some athletic field watering as the formal drought period has ended. However, PAUSD continues to follow the water use reduction program outlined by City of Palo Alto.
The Living Classroom is a hands-on, comprehensive education program that serves students in kindergarten through 8th grade. Regionally, the program has delivered lessons to over 16,000 students since 2008. Living Classroom makes learning relevant and fun. Visit a Living Classroom participating school and you may witness students constructing a worm farm, harvesting and threshing winter wheat, exploring the surface area of leaves, or planting a Native American "Three Sisters" garden. These lessons complement the existing curriculum and provide the opportunity for students to experience concepts taught in the classroom through exploration of the natural world. The following PAUSD schools participate in the program:
- Duveneck (pictured)
- El Carmelo
- Walter Hays
Administrative Regulations and Board Policies
- Energy and Water Management (BP 3511)
- Energy and Water Management (AR 3511)
- Trees (BP 3513.4)
- Environmental Safety (BP 3514)
- Environmental Safety (AR 3514)
Achievements & Awards
- 12 individual school sites received Energy Star building certifications in 2012 and 16 sites recieved certification in 2015.
- PAUSD received an Energy Star Leaders Top Performer recognition for having an entire portfolio of sites with a collective score above 75 (on a 100-point scale).
- PAUSD received the City of Palo Alto Mayor's Green Business Award in 2012, 2013, and 2015.
Join our Schoology group: PAUSD Sustainability! Please contact our Green Team coordinator and PTAC Sustainability Liaison, Kristen Anderson, or PAUSD Sustainability Program Manager, Rebecca Navarro, with any questions, or to get involved.
Click here to visit PAUSD's Zero Waste page.