Saturday, November 29, 2008

Environmental Awareness Field, Public Schools Category

Emcee: Debra Poneman

Our next inductee is the Chicago Public Schools and their Environmental Program Manager, Suzanne Carlson.

Chicago Public Schools is committed to reducing our impact on the environment and teaching our students to be environmental stewards. In this effort, CPS shares Mayor Richard M. Daley’s vision for Chicago to be the greenest city in the nation.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) purchases 20 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, making it the largest renewable purchaser in the state. All new schools are designed to meet the LEED™ Silver green building standard, and CPS has begun incorporating LEED™ sustainable principles for Existing Buildings. We are leading by example at our administrative headquarters by reducing energy use through an energy performance contract, while supporting schools to reduce energy use by 10 percent over five years.

CPS uses least toxic solutions to manage pests, and we are moving quickly to system-wide green cleaning this year. CPS has helped retrofit 670 school buses to reduce harmful emissions. At Central Office, we launched a Paper Waste Busters campaign to reduce our paper use and switch to recycled content paper. The campaign is now being extended to schools.

We teach students about the environment through many means; from school gardens and science curriculum to after-school conservation clubs and service learning clubs on recycling and climate change. Teachers throughout the system are teaching students to be environmental stewards.

In September 2008, Chicago Public Schools announced its 2009 fiscal year Environmental Action Plan. This results-oriented plan will increase our efforts in all areas of sustainability and engage the CPS community to build on our accomplishments. It has 26 action strategies on:
  • Transportation and Air
  • Waste
  • Energy
  • Land
  • Water
  • Engagement
In the upcoming year, CPS is focusing particular attention on three top strategies: saving energy, recycling, and growing school gardens. With this Action Plan, CPS sets itself to become a leader of sustainability among large urban school districts.

Suzanne Carlson was hired as the first Environmental Program Manager for CPS in 2007 to implement this vision. Among her many other activities, she also coordinates the Central Office Green Team so that the CPS administration leads by example in saving energy, recycling, and reducing its paper use.