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DEPARTMENTS   »   District Operational Services   »   Green Schools Initiative

 

The purpose of the Green Schools Initiative is to reduce the consumption of natural resources, and embed environmental responsibility in the culture of OPS. To date, 100% of the schools/programs and administrative offices participate. Students collect recycling, serve as energy managers, pick up litter, plant trees, and participate in related community events.  After six years, OPS has seen a positive culture change, has dramatically reduced its environmental impact, and has accumulated approximately $7.3 million in cumulative cost reduction and avoidance and avoided the greenhouse gas emissions 74,000 Mt of CO2 equivalent to the emissions produced by burning 395 railcars of coal.

Dr. Turnquist on GSI

"The Green Schools Initiative is motivated by a dedication to sound fiscal and environmental stewardship. It represents a commitment to responsible management of material resources and to the health of the school district as well as the larger community. All members of the OPS family are urged to join together in this initiative out of respect for the environment and a dedication to efficiency in all operational practices."

Dr. Antoinette E. Turnquist
Chief Operations Officer

Resources

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One of the greatest ways to reduce our carbon footprints on an individual or household basis, and one of the easiest, is to recycle. Indeed, Americans create 254 million tons of waste every year, according to the EPA, and if all the recyclable materials in that waste stream were properly disposed of, about $7 billion worth of resources wouldn’t wind up in landfills.

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recycling, mistakes
Posted in: Resources
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Northwest horticulture teacher, Rachel Burns, presented her students with a unique challenge: Design a rain garden that will displace water runoff during seasonal storms, minimize the amount of pollutants making their way into the nearby Papio Creek and aid conservation efforts to provide milkweed for the endangered Monarch butterfly.

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Northwest, Rain Garden
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National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization is pleased to recognize that Accelere Aquatic Society of Accelere Program Omaha Public Schools in Omaha has successfully created a Certified Wildlife Habitat® through its Garden for Wildlife program.

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Accelere, Garden, National Wildlife Federation
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OPPD and UNO’s Peter Kiewit Institute are working together on this exciting academy for high school juniors and seniors.  It is a hands-on, interactive learning experience – students will discover an understanding of energy efficient lighting, tour a zero-net energy ready home, construct a solar smartphone charger, attend a presentation on biomimicry and technology, and  gain a better understanding of how sustainability is applied in the real world and what career opportunities they can pursue.

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UNO, OPPD, summer, academy
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Starting in September, every fourth-grader in the nation will receive an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that’s good for free admission to all of America’s federal lands and waters — for them and their families — for a full year.  Federal resources will be available to help schools and families arrange field trips and visits by providing key trip-planning tools, and helping to cover transportation costs for schools with the greatest financial need.

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Mr. Eco believes that monumental changes begin with the youngest members of society. We combined our passions for sustainability, wildlife conservation and hip-hop to create an environmental rap superhero that uses music to empower children to become activists called #EcoHeroes. We use a blend of "edutainment" to teach our youth that their local actions impact ecosystems and wildlife globally.

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The OPS Supply Division operates a highly successful Surplus Furniture and Equipment Initiative that, during calendar year 2013, provided in excess of 4,800 items to OPS facilities free of charge. 

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surplus furniture, surplus equipment, warehouse
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The comprehensive classroom resource containing fact sheets that introduce students to energy and describe energy sources, electricity consumption, efficiency, conservation, transportation, climate change, and emerging technologies

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Energy, NEED, National Energy Education Development
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King Science and Technology has now won a total of $55,000 in SAMSUNG technology and is competing for one of five top positions and a chance to win another $140,000 in technology and a trip to Washington DC.

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The Omaha Public Schools’ Surplus Furniture & Equipment Operation has not only saved the District over $500,000 annually, but provides an extraordinary example to schools across the nation.

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surplus furniture, surplus equipment, warehouse
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Background

In March 2015, OPS confirmed new goals as part of its Green Schools Initiative, a program designed to guide the reduction of consumption of natural resources at OPS. These goals set targets for resource reduction and track the progress in each goal, which can be viewed on the Dashboard.

Goals

The original goals were either out of date or no longer relevant. Paper and engagement will no longer be tracked.  There is not enough data available to give an accurate representation of paper usage in the District. In addition, the paper ordering is often uneven, with large orders one semester and small ones the next, making it difficult to discern patterns and areas of opportunity for reduction which is a primary reason for tracking a metric. The District has also reached the goal for engagement with all schools having implemented Green Teams.

The table below shows previous goals and new goals. The new goal metrics were chosen with consideration for OPS’ growth and the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Award program metrics. The Green Ribbon Award recognizes schools that reduce their environmental impact, improve the health and wellness of schools and occupants, and provide environmental education. OPS won the 2014 District Green Ribbon Sustainability award and four individual schools have earned Green Ribbon awards over the last three years. Showing progress towards these goals illustrates the district’s commitment to resource reduction and improving the health and wellness of the District.

The table below describes the previous goal, the new (or updated goal), and the savings experienced to date. The Emissions goal is new whereas the paper usage and engagement goals are being eliminated. The time frame for each goal is 2019.

OPS Green Schools Initiative Goals and Savings

 

Previous Goal

Savings to date

Current

New Goal

Energy Star

District wide Energy Star rating of 70

$3.9 million in energy costs

District wide Energy Star rating of 62.5

District wide Energy Star rating of 70

Emissions

n/a

36,500 MtCO2 * emissions prevented

1.58 MtCO2 per occupant per year in emissions

1.36 MtCO2 per occupant per year in emissions

Water Consumption

District average of 11.1 million gallons per month

n/a

2,469 gallons per occupant per year

2,400 gallons per occupant per year

Recycling

34,000 cubic yards of recycling

$47,000 in avoided costs

24% of District waste diverted to recycling

30% of District waste diverted to recycling

Waste Reduction

110,000 cubic yards of waste per year

(see above)

(see above)

(see above)

Paper Usage

7,300 cases purchased per year

n/a

8,150 cases purchased per year

n/a

Engagement-Green Teams

100% of schools with Green Teams

n/a

100% of schools with Green Teams

n/a

* MtCO2 stands for metric tons of carbon dioxide, a common metric to measure greenhouse gas emissions.

Potential Impact

If OPS were to meet the goals above, it would have the following impact each year:

  • The emissions reduction equivalent of removing 1,900 passenger cars from the road
  • Saving 1.4 million gallons of water
  • Diverting 8,000 cubic yards of waste to recycling