District Receives Environmental Award
The School District of Palm Beach County is Recycle Florida Today’s “Environmental Steward of the Year,” recognizing the multiple initiatives in place to educate students about sustainability. The award furthers the District’s reputation as a leader in environmental sustainability, and acknowledges efforts to put concepts into action in schools that help protect the planet’s future. The District was named as the award recipient at Recycle Florida Today’s annual conference back in June.
The District was up against several other prominent nominees for the title, including Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, Green Works Orlando, Tampa Bay Regional Recycling Partnership, Lake Worth Beach, and Hillsborough County.
The Environmental and Conservation Services Department leads the School Sustainability initiative which provides resources to schools to reduce waste, recycle, conserve water and energy, and support other environmentally-friendly practices.
Since 2009 when the School Board passed the first “green” policy to reduce waste, the Board has approved five additional policies centered on sustainability. Those range from eliminating unnecessary idling and fuel waste for school buses, to limiting waste by integrating “reduce, reuse, recycle” techniques to encourage environmental responsibility throughout the District.
Recycling has increased by approximately 1,000 tons in the District over the past three years through a variety of programs. One example is a classroom mini-grant program to give money to schools for recycling activities, which eventually grew into the Green Champion program.
During the 2018-2019 school year, school staff who are passionat about environmental awareness and willing to lead sustainable practices at their schools were able to become Green Champions and receive supplies for their ideas.
Indian Pines Elementary School students used money from the Green Champion program to install eco-friendly mulch on their campus. At Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary, students weighed their trash to measure the effectiveness of the school’s recycling program.
Environmental and Conservation Services regularly reviews trash and recycling coming from schools to determine what more can be done to reduce waste. Staff had noticed that schools recycle thousands of plastic water bottles.
Going forward, all new construction schools will have at least one refillable water bottle station. In that spirit, Krista Brochu a student at Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts spearheaded a fundraising effort to install two water bottle refill stations at Highland Elementary School.
Several other environmental initiatives helped the District earn the Environmental Steward of the Year award including reducing food waste through sharing tables, managing energy usage with scheduled air conditioning and lighting systems, green construction for new schools, and professional development.