SHOULD MBUSD'S DISTRICT COLOR BE GREEN? MAYBE SO.
“One of the first things I noticed when I came to MBUSD was the commitment to green initiatives in our schools,” states Michael Matthews, Superintendent of MBUSD. “Our parents, our employees, our students and local groups have made a huge difference in our schools.”
“As Superintendent, I am very proud of the fact that MBUSD schools are among the greenest in the nation. We are reducing, reusing and recycling more than ever before. We know we can be a model for every school across the country.”
This was evidenced in 2016, when MBUSD was honored as a gold medalist in the California Green Ribbon District competition and further honored by the US Department of Education as a National Green Ribbon School. Much of the data used in the application came from school by school analyses by Grades of Green. You can see each school's eco-consultation analysis from the fall of 2014 here.
Over the past six years, Manhattan Beach schools have made huge leaps forward in conservation, led by parent and student initiatives and the non-profit group Grades of Green. The progress has helped both the environment and the District’s bottom line. For example:
- The District began an energy conservation program in 2010 with Cynergistic. The program has saved over $1,000,000 in energy costs over 5 years, in addition to reducing the schools’ carbon footprint by more than 100 metric tons of CO2 thus far.
- Volunteers at MBUSD’s five elementary schools conduct a trash-free lunch program that has reduced trash sent to landfills by 84%—or more than 11,500 bags per year—with a cost-savings of more than $10,000 a year.
- All five of the District’s elementary schools have walk-to-school programs. In many of our schools, an average of 70% of students walk at least one day a week, up from just 15% of students four years ago. Grand View school alone has saved 52 metric tons of CO2 annually, and about $366,000 in gas costs a year for parents. “We are grateful that the City of Manhattan Beach has made a strong commitment to the safety and health of our children by providing crossing guards throughout the city,” added Superintendent Matthews.
- The District has switched to Green Seal Certified cleaning supplies and has reduced insecticide applications, reducing students’ exposure to toxins. Paul Ruta, Director of Maintenance and Operations states, “Currently all of the cleaning chemicals used by the District are environmentally friendly. The District is proud of this accomplishment and thrives to be an example to students and parents.”
- Robinson Elementary has implemented a program to acknowledge children who take steps to help the environment. Pennekamp and Grand View Elementary Schools even have a program that encourages students to donate old costumes and rent, rather than buy their costumes for parties and Halloween.
- Meadows Elementary School has native water-free gardens that beautify its landscape.
- The District has begun its partnership with Vitality City, through which even more green activities will develop.
- Pacific Elementary and the other elementary schools participate in the Go Green Challenge, sponsored by Grades of Green, educating and challenging students to be super green! Click here for more information.
- Grand View Elementary was named as a National Green Ribbon School in 2012.
- The District installed solar panels at Mira Costa High School and LED lights throughout the District in the 2015-16 school year. You can track energy created by our solar panels here.
In addition, most MBUSD schools have implemented:
- In-class composting and recycling
- E-waste recycling programs
- No-idle zones
- Reusable earthquake kits
- Docent-led environmental lessons
- Earth Clubs and planting native gardens
- Paperless school newsletters
- Reusable lunchboxes and bags
Grades of Green, a national non-profit started by concerned parents right here in Manhattan Beach, has been instrumental in pushing us to be more green,” said Matthews. “I’m looking forward to working together in leading the way to even more progress.”
“As a mother who’s concerned about the environment, I’m amazed at the difference one school district can make,” said Suzanne Kretschmer, a MBUSD parent and co-founder of Grades of Green. “Can you imagine the impact if every school across the country did what we’re doing?”
Growing Great is another non-profit partner for MBUSD in their effort to be green. Growing Great uses school-based gardens and nutrition education to empower children and adults with the knowledge to make healthier food choices is critical to improving our health and environment.