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520 tons of CO2 Avoided and Counting!


Sunnyvale School District Has Been Working On Conservation for Years

On October 20, 2011, the Board of Education for the Sunnyvale School District was given an award acknowledging our years of dedicated effort in the realm of energy conservation.  The award marks two years working with Energy Education, Inc. to track, monitor, and adjust energy use district-wide, but it is a great opportunity to acknowledge the farther-reaching efforts that the district already had in place long before that.

Thanks to the efforts of the Maintenance and Operations and Food Service staff and along with the efforts of Kathy Rouse, our Manager of Operational Services, and Gail Burke, our Food Services Director, here are just some of the environmentally conscious choices that are already being made daily at our schools and have been for years:

  • Energy Conservation for Heating and Cooling:  M&O staff has always been conscious of trying to run the heating and cooling equipment only when needed while working to maintain a comfortable learning and teaching environment for all.
  • Recycled-Content Paper:  the District purchases 30% recycled content copier paper, while toilet paper and paper towels have 100% recycled content, including their packaging
  • Reuse-to-Rags:  custodial rags are all 100% recycled from old towels and linens
  • Less paper waste:  hand dryers were installed in student bathrooms.
  • Less Toxic Cleaning: All custodial cleaning products are Green Seal Certified, which considers the “cradle-to-cradle” life cycle of their products
  • Recycling Carts: Paper and container recycling have long been made available to schools (a benefit that many schools actually do not enjoy from their waste haulers)
  • Cardboard Recycling: Every school has a dumpster for collecting cardboard
  • Furniture Recycled: End-of-use furniture is sent to a recycler rather than the landfill
  • Batteries Recycled: Batteries used by Maintenance and Operations are collected and recycled
  • E-Waste Recycled:  End-of-life computers and other electronics equipment are collected by one of several companies for recycling
  • Less Styrofoam:  Years ago the food service program switched from using polystyrene containers to the washable red baskets lined with waxed paper, and “paper boats” to serve food in the cafeterias
  • Energy Conservation in the Kitchen:  Food Service folks turn down or even unplug unneeded equipment (such as milk coolers) over longer breaks

Rebuilding to Save:  Thinking larger scale, the ongoing Measure “P” new construction and renovation efforts around the District are taking advantage of energy conservation related rebates such as window and lighting upgrades and installing low-flow toilets and newer and, in some cases, more efficient heating and cooling equipment.


Solar panels are being installed along the way as well.  To date, six schools have solar panels operating (Cherry Chase, Columbia, Cumberland, Ellis, Fairwood, and Ellis) and Lakewood’s new system will be coming online soon.  The new multi-purpose buildings at Cherry Chase and San Miguel will have solar panels as well.  The District currently saves well over $20,000 per year thanks to the production of our solar panels, which are low-profile thin-film technology.  (Want to know how much a particular school is producing?  For online current information, visit

Conservation Efforts Add Up:

For the two years of monitored and tracked energy usage and savings, efforts to adjust equipment and lighting run times and encourage more thorough shutdowns of equipment over holiday breaks and weekends has added up to avoiding over 1 million kWh of electricity, (about a 14% savings) and over 35,000 therms of natural gas (18% savings).  Environmentally speaking, we avoided producing over 520 metric tons of CO2, which is equivalent to taking 93 cars off the road or growing over 13,000 tree seedlings for 10 years. Dollar-wise, our total “avoided cost” since November 2009 is over $300,000.

For more detailed information on the Energy Conservation program, including how savings are calculated, running solar ticker of production, fun and interesting energy-related links, District policies and guidelines and even the Twitter feed (@SSD_Energy if you would like to follow along!) please visit

Above:  Claire Castagna, Michael Gallagher, Chris Lane (from Energy Education, Inc.), Dr. Benjamin Picard, Ursula Syrova, Nancy Newkirk, Phyllis Fowler, Jeff Arnett, Sandy Agbayani, Anita Hermann

Article by Ursula Syrova, Energy Education Specialist

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