Green Panthers

Eco-Schools Program 2017/18

  • We are going to focus on two categories for our Eco-School program this year.

    1) Biodiversity

    2) Schoolyard Habitat

    Within these two categories we will explore a number of questions regarding what is native habitat, why is it important, and how can we improve it at our school.  What are pollinators and why are they important?  What is organic gardening and what human health benefits are there to gardening?  How do we communicate the importance of biodiversity, native plant species, and pollinator habitat to the community?

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  • The PLES Eco-Action Team consisting of students, faculty and community members is making good progress toward achieving the highest Eco-Schools award, the Green Flag, this school year.  The Green Flag Award requires an audit, assessment, plan and progress in a minimum of three Eco-Schools pathways.  Here is our status to date for the three pathways selected by Mrs. Griebenow:

    1. Water Conservation:  In the 2015-2016 school year, the Green Panthers replaced all bathroom 2.2 gallon-per-minute (GPM) faucet aerators with 0.5 GPM aerators.  The cafeteria also replaced the high flow pre-rinse nozzle with a low flow unit donated by Colorado Springs Utilities.  These measures are saving the school an average of 4,675 gallons of water each month, for a total of 56,100 gallons per year.

    2. Energy Conservation:  A detailed commercial energy audit performed during the 2015-2016 school year identified over $10,600 of potential savings per year from the implementation of seven energy conservation measures.  These measures were primarily electrical versus natural gas.  The first phase of implementing the energy action plan took place in early January with the replacement of 24 fluorescent tube bulbs with LED tube bulbs in Mrs. Rapaport's 4th Grade classroom.  The projected savings is 782 kilowatt-hours and $86 per year. There are 1,199 fluorescent and incandescent bulbs in the school identified for replacement.  If the current classroom test is successful, the remaining bulbs may be replaced as early as this school year.

    3. Healthy Schools:  This pathway looks primarily at toxic chemicals used in schools and indoor air quality.  The Green Panthers have concluded the Healthy Schools audit and have identified three major areas for improvement.  1) Mrs. Griebenow has already instituted a "No Idle Zone" policy for cars, trucks and buses at the school  This policy greatly reduces the amount of highly toxic exhaust gases that are pulled into the school through the ventilation system. 2) Toxic cleaning solutions for carpets, glass, and general purpose cleaning are used by D-38.  The Green Panthers have recommended the District move to the widely available line of non-toxic cleaning supplies. 3) The insect sprays used by D-38 are extremely toxic to humans, primarily to nervous systems and reproductive organs.  The Green Panthers researched effective non-toxic and environmentally friendly alternatives to kill and/or displace wasps.

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  • Water Conservation Audit:  The audit showed that the school consumed 233,400 gallons (31,203 cubic feet) of water between July 2014 and Jun 2015.  With no outdoor irrigation, the bulk of consumption comes from toilets and sinks.

    Water Action Plan Phase 1:  Students measured the bathroom sink flow rates at 2.2 gallons per minute (GPM).  They exchanged the existing faucet aerators with 0.5 GPM models.  At the end of one year, the water bills showed a reduction of 51,600 gallons in the first year.  The combined water and waste water cost savings was $674.

    Water Action Plan Phase 2:  The Eco-Action team is studying the return of investment to replace current toilets and urinals with high efficiency units.

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  • PLES has set an initial goal of achieving a Bronze Level award by the end of the 2015-2016 school year, using the Water Conservation path as its focus.  PLES is also taking the initial steps in the Energy Efficiency and Waste Reduction paths with the long range goal of achieving the Green Flag award by May 2017.


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  • What is the Eco-Schools program?  This is the largest and oldest green schools program, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).  The program allows the participating school to select their desired paths to improve energy and water efficiency, indoor air quality; reduce waste; and promote healthier lifestyles for students and staff.

    PLES Eco-Code:  Tread Lightly 


    How does it work?  An Eco-Action Team of students, staff and community members conducts audits on the path(s) the Principal selects (such as energy, water, waste reduction, indoor air quality, etc).  Based on the audit results the Team develops an action plan with measurable goals and the metrics to measure success.  They work with all students and staff to implement the plan.

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