Cambridge Public Schools published its 2012 Sustainability Year-In-Review this summer, and celebrated several environmental successes. “I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished together so far,” said Kristen von Hoffmann, the school district’s Sustainability Manager. “For me, it really boils down to the numbers. We’ve shown some great dollar savings and lowered energy use, but even so—I’m determined to improve those results.”
The report outlines the schools’ environmental progress and accomplishments in energy reduction, recycling, eco-friendly products, and other green topics. The culmination of these projects comes under the umbrella of the “Cambridge Green Schools Initiative (CGSI)” a district-wide program started by von Hoffmann, who was hired in November 2010. The initiative organizes, implements, and tracks Facilities projects in five environmental categories: Products, Food, Energy, Waste, and Greenspace.
"I like knowing that our schools are places where sustainability matters,” said Maya Ludtke, a student at CRLS who is a member of the Sprouts of Hope, and is also active in the high school’s Environmental Action Club. “We learn things in school that prepare us for the future, and for us to have a good future we need to learn to live in ways that are sustainable for the Earth," she said.
Over the past two years multiple energy-efficiency projects have been implemented. The result is a net projected annual savings of $295,738 for the whole school district; 618,313 kWh of electricity savings; and 29,863 therms. Projects included the installation of a high-efficiency condensing boiler at the Longfellow School Building; high-efficiency lighting and occupancy sensors at the Peabody School, Kennedy-Longfellow School, Baldwin School, and Haggerty School, Morse School, Solomon Garage, and High School Field House; the installation of Direct Digital Control systems at nine schools; and additional energy upgrades.
Working in partnership with numerous school and city departments, von Hoffmann said that her work covers a wide base because sustainability is related to all operations. The focus has been primarily on energy efficiency, recycling, and weekly communications to staff and students about green tips. “Raising environmental awareness is a component of my job, but what’s exciting is how multi-faceted it is. One day I’m in a classroom, the next day I’m analyzing electricity use,” she said.
"I'm pleased to see the City and School Department working together on the Cambridge Green Schools Initiative," said Mayor Henrietta Davis. "Continuing to incorporate green design and energy-efficiency into our schools while teaching young people about the environment, clean energy and sustainability is essential and the way to go!" she said.
But energy isn’t the only area of improvement. Custodians now use metered green cleaning supplies, and six schools are now composting their lunch leftovers. From March 2009 through April 2012 the King Open School alone composted nearly 20 tons of food scraps. The school’s food waste is picked up and taken to a farming facility in Massachusetts for composting as part of the “Food to Flowers” program. The Cambridge Green Schools Initiative also partners with local organizations such as “Walk-Ride Days,” and the Cambridge Health Alliance to promote sustainable and healthy modes of transportation.
“It’s really fun to see how different schools celebrate Walk-Ride Days in their own ways,” said Janie Katz-Christy, founder of the Green Streets Initiative. “I’ve come to see that green transportation is also healthy transportation. By using public transportation and learning how to bike around the city, students interact with their community in new ways and gain independence,” Katz-Christy said. Given the Innovation Agenda’s reconfiguration of schools and the need for more effective commuter solutions, von Hoffmann said she sees eco-friendly transportation being a focus this coming school year.
To read the full statistics and report: “2012 Sustainability Year-In-Review,” click here.
To learn more about the “Cambridge Green Schools Initiative (CGSI),” click here.