MAY 2008 NEWSLETTER
Countdown to Summer!
We at the Green Schools Initiative hope you have had an enjoyable and fulfilling school year -- as usual, it seems to have flown by. It's been a busy Spring, with conferences, special events and projects all over California focusing on ways schools can go green, of both the tried-and-true and exciting-and-new variety. This end-of-school issue is full of information about great projects schools and other organizations have come up with to reduce waste, increase sustainability, and share successes. And there are several announcements for summer activities: teacher training workshops, school award nominations, and more. So, integrate some greening into your Summer Break!
This month I'd like to introduce you to Betsy Bigelow-Teller, our e-newsletter editor. Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas for stories, announcements, and. feedback. And go to our Donate Now page to support our efforts. We hope you will have a relaxing and fun summer, storing up energy and ideas for a great new green school year...
A HEALTHY TURNOUT FOR HEALTHY SCHOOLS DAY 2008
School personnel, parents, advocates, and agencies united nationwide on April 28th for Healthy Schools Day – a day to promote and celebrate healthy and green school environments. The events were coordinated by Healthy Schools Network, a national environmental health organization that does research, education, and advocacy to ensure that every child has a healthy, clean learning environment that is in good repair. Take a look and see how your school can participate next year!
CALIFORNIA "GREEN CHEMISTRY" NEWS: Green cleaning and new research report
Do you know what the health and environmental impacts are of the chemicals found in cleaners, toys, or pesticides used at your child’s school? Apparently government regulators don’t either. Luckily, the state of California has launched a much-needed movement to reform how toxic chemicals are managed: the Green Chemistry Initiative. The aim of Green Chemistry is to promote the “design, manufacture and use of chemicals, processes and products that are safer for human health and the environment,” according to a report by the University of California. Green Chemistry is vitally important to the health of California children. Children are more vulnerable than adults to exposure to even low levels of synthetic chemicals. Untested and potentially hazardous chemicals are found in cleaners, pesticides, paints, and consumer products used in schools, homes, and gardens and school yards. Green Chemistry policies would require greater safety standards for chemicals and products before they go on the market, so that schools and consumers can make informed choices about the chemicals they use, and Californians can avoid costly health and environmental impacts from toxic substances. For more information and to get involved, follow these links:
In the area of cleaners used in schools, there are literally hundreds of less toxic "green cleaning products" that schools can use that are certified "green" by independent organizations like Green Seal and Environmental Choice. The states of New York, Illinois, and Maine have passed laws requiring schools to use "green cleaners." In California, Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia sponsored AB2808, the Green Cleaning in Schools Bill, that would have required schools to make the switch by 2012 at the latest. AB2808 was passed by the Assembly Education Committee, but did not pass out of the Appropriations Committee due to the California budget crisis "suspending" many bills with any costs higher than $50,000. The Assemblywoman received many, many letters of support from teachers unions, school facility managers, asthma, children's health, environmental, and cancer organizations, and parents. Stay tuned... Similar legislation will likely be sponsored again next year. In the meantime, promote green cleaning in your local schools today! There is no reason to wait when less-toxic products are on the market now.
In January 2008 the University of California issued a report entitled “Green Chemistry: Cornerstone to a Sustainable California,” that makes recommendations for sweeping changes to state policy. Laws currently on the books are not doing the job of regulating the production and use of toxic chemicals, and are not protecting the environment and public health. According to a UC press release, “inadequate regulation has resulted in chemical and pollution-related diseases among children and workers in California [that] cost the state's insurers, businesses and families an estimated $2.6 billion in direct and indirect costs.”
ENERGY EFFICIENCY CAN SAVE YOUR SCHOOL BIG BUCKS...FOR FREE!
Click on the link below to check out PG&E’s School Resources Program (SRP) for K-12 public and private schools. In this time of budget cuts, increasing your school’s energy efficiency can save a lot of money with little or no cash outlay. PG&E will send a Resource Conservation Manager to your school at no cost to perform an energy audit, help plan energy efficient construction, suggest operations and maintenance improvements, and more. Spend the money you save on essentials for the classroom!
To see how Fresno Schools are freeing up $500,000 a year by cutting heating and electricity expenses, click on this link:
Solar Schoolhouse Offers Summer Institute for Educators
Solar Schoolhouse, a project-based learning program sponsored by the Rahus Institute, is offering a 5-day summer seminar for teachers in July. Educators will learn about the science and history of heating, cooling and powering homes using energy from the sun. Participants will build solar cookers, model passive solar homes, solar electric cars, and more. The seminar features visits to solar buildings to see solar design in practice. In addition to learning about the science of building design and how to fit these ideas into the classroom curriculum, participants will gain practical knowledge to apply to their own lives. Instructor Hal Aronson is so knowledgable and enthusiastic that participants will leave energized and inspired to incorporate solar energy education into their schools, sparking excitement and hope for teachers and students alike.
Location: Walker Creek Ranch, Petaluma, CA
Dates: July 13-18, 2008
Participants: Educators in grades 3-12
Cost: $1,200 (Includes instruction, lodging, food, & materials; Sponsorships available)
CSUS Extension credit available
Green Apple Awards: Apply by July 1, 2008
Each year at its Greentools event, CHPS presents awards recognizing outstanding leaders in high performance school building. The awards honor school districts, design teams, individuals, organizations, and industry leaders for their contributions to the green school movement. Awards will be presented during a special ceremony at Greentools 2008, and award topics mirror the three themes of the conference:
• Climate Change: For reduction of greenhouse gases in the school community
• High Performance School Policy: For contributing to local, district, state, or nationwide policies that promote high performance schools
• Existing Schools: For contributing to the high performance operation and maintenance of existing schools
To learn more about the Green Apple Awards, or to submit an application, go to
Save the Date for Greentools 2008
The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) is planning its second “Green Tools for Healthy Schools” networking, training, and awards event for September 11-12, 2008 in Sacramento. The event, “for professionals interested in creating healthier, more environmentally responsible schools,” will focus on technical and policy solutions to “The Big Three” – the three biggest obstacles to achieving high performance schools:
- schools’ contributions to greenhouse gas levels
- policymaking, and
- transforming existing schools
Day 1 will involve intensive workshops, and Day 2 will feature a tour of a CHPS school, and “Design Charettes.” (A “charette” refers to an intensive effort to finish an architectural design project.) CHPS is featuring the charettes with the goal of including CHPS best practices in school projects to maximize high performance. According to the CHPS website, “The entire project team will be invited to participate in the charette, from engineers and architects, to facility managers and occupants. CHPS will lead participants in a three-hour planning session to discuss the project’s high performance goals and how CHPS best practices can be optimized and included. Five charette participants will receive free registration to Greentools 2008.”
To learn more about Greentools 2008, go to: www.chps.net/greentools.htm