Though the Los Angeles Unified School District currently faces steep budget cuts and staff layoffs, they are continuing their commitment to a three-year-old environmental program that has actually helped soften the financial blow.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Green LAUSD Resolution, passed in 2007, outlined specific goals for water and energy conservation. The main points of the resolution include reducing emissions, water and energy use by 10 percent by 2013.
Already the program has helped the district save money on utility costs and LAUSD plans to continue its work to go green.
This month, LAUSD will upgrade hundreds of old schools buses to newer models. These new buses run off propane and are less polluting and more energy efficient.
“Our mission is to be the greenest school district in the country,” said L.A. Board of Education President Monica Garcia to the Times. “It’s good for the students, good for the planet, good for the neighborhoods.”
Such reforms are made possible with approved bond measures, utility incentives and grants. $120 million in federal bonds may also be available for LAUSD for solar energy projects.
A 2008 National Research Council report on green schools also found that many qualities of energy efficient and environmentally friendly buildings also aid in student learning. Among the factors cited are the noise reduction afforded by insulated walls and double-pane windows, and the reduction of reparatory problems by not using volatile organic compounds. Such respiratory problems, including asthma, are the number one cause of absenteeism in schools.
Jay Gonzales, an adviser in LAUSD’s Office of Curriculum and Instruction, plans to get students involved in going green as well. This spring, he will pilot a project that will use students to devise more water efficient irrigation systems.
“LAUSD’s mandate is to educate, so everything we do should somehow be connected,” Gonzales told the Times.