Schools save $1.6 million through sustainability project

The West St. Paul School District has saved about $1.6 million in the past 10 years as a result of its ongoing LIVEGREEN sustainability program.

The assessment was provided in a report to the school board by Director of Operations Mark Fortman and Sustainability Manager Lisa Johnson earlier this month.

The pair said the district has made progress every year in reducing energy use and waste since starting the program in 2003. The program now operates at the district's eight schools. The district has saved more than $1.6 million in utility costs.

Last year the district kicked off a "Reboot Recycling" campaign and set a goal of increasing recycling from 46 percent to 66 percent by 2014. The district reports that it is on track to meet this goal, thanks to switching waste haulers, displaying posters with updated compost and recycling information, and initiatives such as LIVEGREEN Week and the Recycle Bowl Competition in the fall 2012. Henry Sibley High School was named a winner, earning $1,000 -- the only winner from Minnesota, according to the district.

The district also had every school building earn an Energy Star label, and the district has earned Energy Star's Top Performer Award since 2009.

Also, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Garlough Environmental Magnet School with the Green Ribbon School award in 2011-12, and Heritage E-STEM Magnet School was named a finalist for that award with the winner still to be announced for 2012-13.


Carleton College in running for environmental award

Carleton College for the second consecutive year is a finalist in the Second Nature 2013 Climate Leadership Awards.

The award is an annual competition among U.S. colleges and universities that are part of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

Carleton, as part of its ACUPCC agreement and its own climate action plan, has a goal of producing net zero carbon by 2050.

The college has incorporated sustainability as a basic part of it strategic plan that was released last fall after an 18-month planning process.

The college has benefitted from its second wind turbine, commissioned in October 2011, providing 25-30 percent of the campus' electrical needs.

It also installed Rice County's first electric vehicle charging station and has numerous ongoing energy conservation projects that include lighting retrofits and energy audits.

Carleton also launched an improved community waste program with centrally located and easily recognizable bins for recycling, composting or landfill.

The school also formed a custodial "Wastebusters" team to help identify areas where the college can be more sustainable in its cleaning practices and decrease its community waste.