Sustainability efforts grow in SaMo schools

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Angel Carreras

Days after debuting a new tree nursery at Samohi, Santa Monica school district staff were back with more green-related news, reporting updates on the progress of the Districtwide Plan for Sustainability, a long-term plan to reduce energy usage and waste at schools.

The plan will unite many preexisting sustainability initiatives and incorporate those into education services and all aspects of student learning, integrating sustainability practices such as climate protection, resource efficiency and waste management into day-today operations in schools throughout the district.

The Cumming Corporation, a project management company, assisted in developing the plan which is currently in its final phase of development. Emma Sorrell, assistant project manager at Cumming, provided the roadmap of the plan for the district, illustrating where the program began and where it hopes to go.

The plan was first built on eight focus areas — education & engagement, energy efficiency, food nutrition, green buildings, water, waste, transportation and material procurement.
To draft the plan, Sorrell and staff were active in engaging the community, the plan’s first phase. Cumming and staff created a steering committee and met with stakeholders and the community, creating workshops and attending the recent ClimateFest for public outreach.

The plan’s second phase reviewed current sustainability programs and analyzed data within those programs and created goals, objectives, and strategies.

Now, in its third phase, the plan is being fleshed out, with a draft being available to view in December after a series of town halls and district review before plan implementation.
Thus far, components of the plan will create metrics to measure the plan’s focus areas to measure progress and achieve goals. Goals will be prioritized by the ease of implementation and cost-effectiveness. Metrics will be implemented in the 2017-18 fiscal year with goal deadlines in 2020, 2025 and 2030.

“Sustainability is a road, not an end destination,” Sorrell said about the plan. “It’s an iterative process. By having metrics, we can constantly evaluate and see that we’re moving in the right direction.”

Sorrell said the 2020 goals will be “low hanging fruit, easy to implement” in order to build momentum for the program with the latter years “providing a roadmap of where we want to go, allowing the district to put an infrastructure in place.”

Project costs and funding are being considered as well, with the team looking at cost savings potential within the sustainability measures themselves as well as grants.

After Districtwide Plan for Sustainability update, Caroline Coster, sustainability coordinator of SMMUSD, provided an update on the plastic food ordinance.

“We’ve been sitting down with our supplier for all the products, going through a very thorough evaluation of what we use currently and what we can phase out, and what kind of material is available. We’re working with the city Santa Monica and Malibu to see what they recommend. Since this is new, there’s not a lot of vendors. It will take a while to process and evaluate and make sure it’ll work for the district.”

Other sustainability efforts in the district include the creation of a SMMUSD energy dashboard which examines energy use overall in the district, electric. The goal is to reduce energy usage by 5% by June 30, 2019.

A district-wide friendly competition will be had to see who can change their usage behavior the most.

Additionally, Prop 39 lighting installation will occur, changing lights to LED to conserve energy.

Solar panels will also be installed in Samohi, Edison, and JAMS with evaluations in upcoming weeks.

2018-09-24T13:40:33+00:00September 22nd, 2018|News, West|
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