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Alameda schools work to go green

Submitted by on 1, May 8, 2009 – 5:50 am2 Comments

Alamedans are an environmentally friendly lot, reducing, reusing and recycling more than many of their neighbors. But the Island’s schools are lagging behind the rest of the Island in implementing the three Rs.

Fortunately, that’s all about to change, thanks to the efforts of parents and district staff who are working to implement a district-wide recycling program. The district’s maintenance staff is also working with local utilities to save water and energy.

Chantal Currid, a parent who helped start the Alameda Schools Go Green group last year to work together on “greening” the schools and to swap ideas, said that while the schools are teaching students about recycling, they lack a consistent, district-wide program for doing it. So another parent applied for and won a $142,000 grant to do just that.

As it stands, the district’s schools recycle just 41 percent of their solid waste, including food scraps. The goal is to increase that to 75 percent through a three-year pilot program that will be created with the grant money.

“This is something that’s near and dear to our hearts now. We want to get some momentum and get this going,” said Leland Noll, the district’s director of maintenance, operations and facilities.

Noll said the district is also working to lower its energy and water usage in order to be more green (and to save a little bit of green, too) and that it’s working with local utilities to do it. He said he’ll be partnering with AMP to replace the district’s “ancient” drive-in freezer this summer. He said he’ll also be working to upgrade irrigation systems to ones that read moisture in the ground, in order to save water.

Meredith Owens of Alameda Municipal Power said the utility is working with the district to provide energy audits, which they’ll use to prioritize energy efficiency upgrades to be paid for with the district’s facilities bond money.

Both Franklin and Bay Farm elementary schools have Energy Star labels for their high energy efficiency; Lincoln Middle School has a one-kilowatt solar array that serves as a teaching tool for that school’s students.

For more on this, check out School Board President Mike McMahon’s website, which has an Earth Day PowerPoint from the school board’s April 28 meeting (scroll down). And the Go Green folks have a Google group you can join, too.

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