OGS - Potential Goals

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Project/Goal Ideas for School Green Teams

The following list of ideas, from the Oregon Green Schools website, are listed in order from easiest to more challenging. Often it’s a good idea to start with projects that have a greater chance of success and then build upon that success to tackle more ambitious projects.  Your regional coordinator is always a good resource, and can help you determine if a project is feasible for your school! (Regional Coordinator: Joshua Frankel – greenschools@live.com / 541-636-0096)

Waste Reduction:

  • Post signs in the bathrooms to remind students not to use too many paper towels.

  • Have staff memos and daily announcements sent via email or posted instead of individually printed.

  • Collect paper that has been used on one side and reuse as a draft drawer in your copy machines and to use as note pads.

  • Encourage the use of rechargeable batteries in your school and to students.

  • Reuse large mailing envelopes.

  • Teach students and parents about waste-free lunches.

  • Create a donation station where people can drop off or pick up used clothing, games, sporting equipment, etc.  Donate any undesirable items to a thrift store or homeless shelter.

  • Email school newsletters instead of print them.

  • Teach staff, students and parents how to get off junk-mail lists.

  • Purchase reusable gloves & aprons for kitchen staff.

  • Work with your suppliers to reduce how much packaging they use when sending your orders.

  • Work with your school office to get all bills sent electronically.

  • Set your printers to default to double sided printing.

  • Set up a “No Thank You” table (also known as “Offer Versus Serve”) in the cafeteria to minimize food waste.

  • Sell reusable water bottles as part of a campaign to reduce plastic water bottles.

  • Get software to convert faxes to pdf’s rather than print them.

  • Automatically set up documents to have 0.5” margins.

  • Replace paper towels with air dryers in bathrooms.

  • Eliminate the sale and use of bottled water in your school.

  • Donate excess food from kitchen to food banks.

  • Replace disposable cups, plates and utensils throughout school with durables.

  • Replace milk cartons with milk dispensers.

 

Recycling:

  • Check that all classrooms, the office, library, hallways, etc. have recycling bins.

  • Clearly label all school recycling bins and place them next to garbage cans to reduce contamination.

  • Start a collection program for less commonly recycled materials like chip bags, candy wrappers, pens, cell phones, plastic bags, printer cartridges, rechargeable batteries, greeting cards, etc.

  • Have your green team monitor the recycling efforts of your school’s recycling by having them check for recyclables in the classroom/office trash and contamination in the recycling.  Report these weekly findings to the classes.

  • Set up special recycling drives at the end of the terms &/or school year to collect large volumes of paper.

  • Ensure that recycling is available at extra-curricular activities like sporting events, school dances, fairs, etc.

  • Require outside groups that use your school after-hours to recycle.

 

Composting:

  • Set up a worm composting system.

  • Compost vegetative waste at your school like fruit peels, coffee grounds, grass clippings, leaves and kitchen waste.

  • Compost cafeteria waste (if food composting is available in your area).

 

Water Conservation:

  • Analyze your school’s seasonal water use.

  • Post signs in bathrooms reminding students to conserve water.

  • Design a display for the foyer, commons, cafeteria or other public space to educate students and staff about your school’s water quality and/or conservation actions.

  • Test all toilets for leaks (if possible).

  • Install low-flow shower heads in locker rooms.

  • Keep the garbage dumpsters clean and away from storm drains.

  • Do a community litter pick-up.

  • Check that your school has faucet aerators throughout the school.

  • Verify that your kitchen does not use a garbage disposal.

  • Calculate stormwater runoff – measure area of roof and other impervious surfaces—and the amount of rain you receive (use in Math classrooms).  Think about ways to divert the stormwater away from the stormwater drains and put it back to use.

  • Determine water savings (in volume and $) for one year for one of the following: faucet fixtures (aerators and motion sensor), low-flow toilets and waterless urinals, low-flow shower heads, or irrigation systems. If your school does car-washes as a fundraiser, take steps to prevent waste-water from entering storm drains.

  • Plant a tree.

  • Work with your custodian to sweep or blow dirt from paved areas instead of use a pressure washer.

  • Water early in the morning to avoid evaporation in the heat of the day.  Avoid watering when it is windy.

  • Regularly sweep school parking lots to avoid excessive debris in the storm drains.

  • Mark the storm drains at your schools &/or neighborhood to remind people not to dump motor oil or other waste.

  • Research pervious surface alternatives for all impervious surfaces (concrete, asphalt, roofing) and calculate the amount of stormwater reduction if replaced.

  • Determine how much water is used per year to water lawns/fields. Recommend replacing any non-field lawns with shrubs or native plants and calculate the water savings (in volume and $).

  • Set up the irrigation system to automatically avoid watering on wet days.

  • Ensure that all toilets low-flow (1.6 gallons or less).

  • Install rain barrels or another water caption system to use water that falls on the roof.

  • Install timers on bathroom faucets and locker room showers.

  • Plant native plants throughout school grounds.

  • Create a bioswale, naturescape, greenhouse, green roof, rain garden or a school garden.  If you don’t use the food from your school garden, consider donating it to a food bank.

 

Energy Conservation:

  • Put up prompts like stickers to remind people to turn off lights and computers.

  • Set thermostats to maximize energy efficiency.

  • If your refrigerators are older than 1993, use the EPA calculator to determine if your refrigerators are in need of updating.

  • Check that refrigerator temperatures are between 38-42 degrees Fahrenheit and freezers between 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • If you have vending machines, ask your distributor to delamp the machines.

  • Check all school faucets hot water to ensure that the water temperature is between 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Check that all heating/cooling vents in classrooms are not blocked.

  • Check that all refrigerators have adequate seals and have the custodian’s annual maintenance list include cleaning the refrigerator coils.

  • Have your green team monitor classrooms each week to see if they left lights, computers or other items on when nobody is around.  Report these weekly findings to the classes.

  • Conduct an energy audit using the Oregon Green Schools form &/or ask the Energy Trust or PGE to conduct an audit.

  • Establish a policy to require monitors to be turned off after 5 minutes of inactivity and computers after 2 hours of non-use.

  • Eliminate mini-fridges unless needed for medications.

  • Consolidate staff refrigerators in order to eliminate unnecessary ones.

  • Install Vending Misers on all school vending machines.

  • Install light sensors or work with staff to take advantage of natural daylight and only use the necessary amount of lighting.

  • Delamp lights that are not needed.

  • Establish a policy to only purchase Energy Star computers and appliances.

  • Install motion sensors in seldomly used rooms

  • Have computers, lights and copy machines set to automatically turn off at the end of the day.  If you can’t do this, make this the responsibility of your custodian or other staff that works after hours.

  • Install LED exit signs.

  • Eliminate T12 lights and magnetic ballasts and replace with T8 lights with electronic ballasts.

  • Create a district-wide policy to save energy.

  • Invest in solar panels.

 

Hazardous Waste:

  • Check that your custodians are using cleaning products that are 3rd party certified.

  • Verify that your school has a policy to safely dispose of hazardous materials.

  • Verify that your school’s art department uses ACMI certified products.

  • Train custodians how to safely clean up broken fluorescent tubes.

  • Eliminate urinal cakes and anti-bacterial soaps containing triclosan.

  • Eliminate artificial fragrances and toxic markers in classrooms.

  • Establish a recycling program for electronics and fluorescent lights.

  • If your school is older, evaluate it for asbestos, mercury, lead paint and other environmental hazards.

  • Replace any mercury thermostats and recycle them.

  • Eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides on your school grounds.

  • If your school has a chemistry or biology lab, conduct an inventory and analyze contents for safety.  Check that your lab chemicals are stored in metal acid storage cabinets.

Reducing Pesticide Use/Integrated Pest Management: 

 

A great way to cut down on your school’s hazardous materials is to avoid using them in the first place.  Integrated pest management (IPM) is an effective way to minimize pesticide use.

  • To eliminate harborage for insect and rodent pests: clear clutter from rooms regularly, and consider removing couches.

  • Inside activities to stop pests from entering the school include: working with the custodian and facilities to (a) have screens in good repair, (b) caulk areas where ants could enter the building, (c) install brush-type door sweeps on doors to the outside.

  • Outside management to keep pests away from the building include:  keeping outside vegetation at least 18 inches away from the building, removing ivy and other low lying vegetation that hides pests, trimming bushes next to building in an upside-down cone to eliminate hiding places for rodents.

  • To not attract pests: store all food items (even for crafts) in sealed containers, clean in and under microwaves, pay special attention to cleaning under equipment in the kitchen as grease and crumbs can accumulate. 

  • To prevent drain flies, work with custodian to establish a routine to clean kitchen drains with a brush or biological cleaner (learn more at: schoolipm.wsu.edu/pdf/PNW_PPDrainFlies.pdf).

  •  If you have a compost, work with the compost team to ensure compost bins are well sealed and food waste is managed to minimize insect pests (learn more at: http://www.pesticide.org/the-buzz/topics/Compost).

  • Organize weed-pulling parties for garden space and landscaping beds or other areas where children spend time.

  • Prevent new weed growth by placing three inches of wood chips down in landscape beds in areas of high aesthetic concern.

  • To kill weeds consider investing in a flameweeder or other tools to manage weeds without herbicides. Introduce grounds keepers to non-herbicidal methods to control weeds (to learn more: http://www.pesticide.org/solutions/professional-toolbox). Also, in areas of low aesthetic importance consider accepting some weeds.

  • To avoid transferring lice and bed bugs between students: (a) place storage hooks far enough apart so jackets and backpacks don’t touch; (b) discourage children from sharing hats or helmets; (c) request that children put jackets inside backpacks; (d) encourage parents to use least toxic lice products; and (d) encourage parents to check children’s heads weekly for nits.

  • To prevent roof moss: work with facilities to keep trees trimmed so they don’t shade the roof. 

  • To catch pest problems early: monitor for insect pests in areas where pests have been seen before as well as in pest prone areas (kitchen, cafeteria, and staff lounge).

  • Make sure school staff are not applying pesticides in school. Look for any pesticides stored at the school and properly dispose of them at a county hazardous waste collection center.

  • Attempt to avoid pest emergencies and if they arise be prepared. Recognizing potential emergencies (yellow jacket nest near play ground) and working to both prevent them and have a plan for how to handle them can avoid the need for pesticide use. For help to create prevention plans contact the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides or Oregon State University Extension Service’s School IPM program.

 

Green Procurement:

  • Create and distribute a “No PVC” back-to-school list.

  • Post reminders in school supply cabinets reminding staff to purchase supplies that contain recycled content.

  • Use refurbished ink/toner in copy machines and printers.

  • Establish a sustainable purchasing policy for your school.

  • Establish your school as a community supported agriculture (CSA) drop-off location.

  • Establish a school-wide policy to purchase copy paper, toilet paper, paper towels and napkins with post-consumer recycled content.

  • Source food locally and organic when possible.

  • Purchase renewable power.

  • Purchase credits to offset your school’s carbon emissions.

  • Generate renewable energy such as solar power.

 

Transportation:

  • Participate in a Walk & Bike to School Day.

  • Encourage employee carpooling.

  • Create safe bicycle routes and publicize to students and their parents.  A good resource is www.oregonsaferoutes.org

  • Establish “No Idle Zones” for parents.

  • Remove mercury switches from all older vehicles in fleet.

  • Prohibit bus drivers from idlying.

  • Install safe, covered bicycle parking.

  • Work with fleet to have busses and other vehicles use alternative fuels, hybrids, electric power, etc.

 

Communication:

  • Prominently display Oregon Green Schools certificate, decals, etc.

  • Have students give classroom presentations &/or announcements at assemblies on how to recycle, water/energy conservation, etc.

  • “Green Page” on website, newsletter articles, monthly green tips, etc.

  • Displays in school entry, hallways, staff break room, etc.  Examples include waste audit or energy audit results, new recycling efforts, recycling art projects, etc.

  • Quarterly presentations on green team efforts to staff.

  • Create a Q&A forum for staff, students and parents to get their environmental questions answered.

  • Reach out to other schools to help them with their environmental efforts.

  • Paint a mural with an environmental theme.

  • Create an environmental fair or event for students and parents.

(Goal ideas updated 9/25/13)(This page was updated: 12/17/18.)

To visit the statewide OGS website: www.oregongreenschools.org