11/16/15 :

PowerSave School District Wins Green Ribbon Schools Award

El Monte Union High School District (EMUHSD), which has taken great strides in recent years to lead the way in energy conservation, was recently honored with the prestigious U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon School award for 2015. The Green Ribbon School program recognizes schools and school districts that are reducing environmental impacts, improving wellness of schools, students, and staff, and providing environmental education to students.

The school district was recognized for their outstanding efforts in allowing students to explore green careers, increase their environmental awareness, and prepare for graduation and advanced education. And not only does it talk the talk, it walks the walk: The school district has successfully reduced its environmental impact through a variety of programs ranging from energy efficiency to water conservation to waste reduction. Students and faculty in the district have: 

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 26.7 percent from February 2012 to August 2014.
  • Converted 100 percent of outdoor parking to LEDs.
  • Installed lighting with occupancy sensors at every site.
  • Installed a cool roof at every school in the district.
  • Been recognized for Leadership in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions for a 10 percent improvement in energy performance in 2013.

Much of this has been accomplished through numerous partnerships between EMUHSD and government agencies, community organizations, nonprofits and advanced education institutions. Serving more than 9,000 students in eight schools, EMUHSD is a recognized Energy Star Leader and continues to raise students’ environmental awareness through school-wide initiatives, student clubs and organizations. Every school in EMUHSD has a PowerSave team through their partnership with the Alliance to Save Energy and Southern California Edison, and the program has united students, teachers, administrators and maintenance staff around energy efficiency. Each of the PowerSave teams reaps benefits for the entire school, as 50 percent of efficiency savings are returned to the district and individual schools. The work of PowerSave teams in this district has been complemented by the district’s dedication to environmental literacy, which includes bringing environmental awareness to students, staff, parents and the community to catalyze stewardship.

At Arroyo High, the PowerSave team made presentations on how to save energy in class, and encouraged teachers to reduce energy use by passing out fliers with energy-saving tips—and candy to sweeten the deal. Three students from this team went above and beyond by volunteering at a solar installation with GRID Alternatives, a solar nonprofit that installs free solar panels in low-income and minority communities. Even more students from the team worked with 350.org, an international environmental organization, at volunteer events.

South El Monte High also worked hard to contribute to the environmental successes of the district. The school hosted an all-day Student Energy Audit Training workshop, where students learned about energy use on campus and were trained to perform low-level audits at school. They also had the Alliance to Save Energy’s infamous Energy Hog mascot appear at a school activities fair to promote sustainability and the goals of the PowerSave team. This served as a wonderful complement to their school-wide energy patrol contest, where students monitored classrooms and rewarded those classrooms that were implementing energy-saving measures. The impact of the drought was not lost on South El Monte High students, and they even performed a water audit at their school to identify leaky faucets, high-flow fixtures, and other water-wasting features on campus. Toward the end of the school year, the team participated in fun activities like a field trip to CSU Long Beach where they toured the university’s Science Center and Heating and Cooling Plant. 

By encouraging behavioral changes, each PowerSave team greatly increased energy efficiency on campus. With the knowledge that energy efficiency starts with people, the PowerSave teams at these schools did a fantastic job of educating students about energy and inspiring them to be more efficient. Energy and the environment are inextricably tied together, and the hard work of EMUHSD has benefitted students in the district by increasing sustainability and energy efficiency. A big congratulations to El Monte Union High School District, and thanks to the eight PowerSave teams on these campuses who worked so hard to make the Green Ribbon Award achievable for their district!