Environmental action earns Federal Way School District ‘Green Schools’ honor from King County, city
The Federal Way Public Schools’ efforts to increase recycling, decrease energy use and buy environmentally friendly products has earned it the “Green Schools” award from King County and the City of Federal Way.
The school district has established effective recycling programs at all of its 36 schools, saved more than $75,000 in energy costs through conservation and established a policy for purchasing green or environmentally friendly products.
The school district will receive the award during the August 22 School Board meeting at the Federal Way City Hall Council Chambers, 33325 8th Ave. S., Federal Way.
This past July marked the end of the school district’s second full year of improving recycling and energy conservation efforts using resources from King County’s Green Schools Program. “Green Schools” assists schools, students and staff to conserve natural resources, save money and become better stewards of the environment.
During the previous two years, the district focused on waste reduction and recycling, energy conservation, environmental purchasing and environmental education.
The King County Green Schools Program and the City of Federal Way worked with Ed Novak, the school district’s resource conservation manager, to set goals and improve performance in each area.
“Federal Way School District is committed to finding ways to conserve natural resources and save money,” Novak said. “Our significant gains in waste reduction and increased recycling would not have been achieved without the support and guidance from the King County Green Schools Program.”
To reduce garbage and expand recycling, Green Schools Program experts visited each of the district’s 36 schools to assess waste management practices and set up recycling containers and signs where needed. In addition to recycling paper, bottles and cans, the district now recycles printer cartridges, old lamps, bulbs and computer equipment.
Dramatic results were noticed immediately. For example, Illahee Junior High School reduced its solid waste by 700 cubic yards per year, the equivalent volume of half of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Illahee’s garbage costs have decreased by $500 per month, saving the school district roughly $5,000 per year.
Illahee teacher Maggie Palm received a King County Earth Heroes at School award for her leadership in waste reduction and recycling efforts, while chief custodian Tony Delrosario was praised for his role in implementing a successful recycling program.
The district reduced energy costs by more than $75,000 per year by installing high efficiency lighting, monitoring boiler efficiency, and modifying vending machines.
Programmable thermostats were installed in all of the district’s 103 portable classrooms, while custodian training sessions emphasized turning off unneeded equipment during holiday breaks and non-school hours.
Puget Sound Energy supported the school district’s energy conservation strategies by providing technical assistance, grants and rebates.
To expand its environmental education efforts, the district informed all instructional staff about King County’s free environmental workshops, assembly programs and other educational resources.
Dale Alekel, program manager of the King County Green Schools Program, said the Federal Way School District’s waste reduction and energy savings are the result of a solid partnership.
“It has been tremendously rewarding to see the school district succeed in its efforts to reduce solid waste, recycle and save energy,” Alekel said. “This program helps schools to save money and natural resources, and instills a conservation ethic in the community leaders of tomorrow.”
Rob Van Orsow, the City of Federal Way’s solid waste and recycling coordinator, said the partnership was crucial in getting the district the assistance they needed while stretching government resources.
“The King County Green Schools Program reflects the values of our community and sends a positive message to our young people about the importance of conservation,” Van Orsow said.
King County’s Green Schools Program helps schools and school districts to initiate or expand conservation actions and reduce related costs, increase awareness of conservation strategies among school staff, students and parents, and recognize schools and school districts as environmental stewards, to serve as models for their students and communities.
Over the past four years, the program has assisted five school districts totaling 142 schools. More information about the program is available by calling Alekel at 206-296-8457, or at www.metrokc.gov/dnrp/swd/greenschools.
August 14, 2006