From energy efficiency to recycling, IUSD and our Sustainability Team are dedicated to making our schools and facilities more eco-friendly and sustainable, while educating students and staff about how their daily activities impact the environment. Our practices to achieve these important goals include implementing solar energy at various school sites, maintaining energy efficient buildings and facilities, recycling, eliminating harmful plastic straws and other waste that crowds our landfills, encouraging school gardens and educational activities to help students cultivate eco-friendly habits, and responsible use of water and landscaping at our facilities, among many other initiatives. Below are some highlights of these efforts.
IUSD’s solar program has increased the District’s use of renewable energy, decreased our carbon footprint and saved more than $2 million.
- IUSD is working toward a net zero electricity goal, which aims to use as much solar energy as possible.
- To date, the District has 34 solar arrays (17 rooftops and 17 carports) at 28 sites. IUSD’s plans for solar energy expansion includes six more solar carport installations, which have been approved by the Board of Education for the summers of 2020 and 2021.
- IUSD estimates that our solar efforts have avoided approximately 14,830 metric tons of CO2 annually and as of June 30, 2019, our cumulative energy savings have been estimated at $2.26 million.
Recycling and Waste Reduction
IUSD continues to implement initiatives to reduce waste and increase recycling.
- IUSD eliminated single-use plastic water bottles and plastic straws districtwide. Sites are now using boxed water and products that do not require straws.
- Water bottle filling stations have been installed throughout the District.
- All sites have mixed waste recycling bins.
- The District established an organic waste recycling program and holds an annual electronic recycling event, where funds are used to support IUSD’s Green Team Program.
- To encourage recycling of clothes and shoes, IUSD has placed 21 textile-recycling bins at various sites.
Water Use and Landscaping
According to the Irvine Ranch Water District, more than 60 percent of Irvine’s water is used outdoors and the best way to conserve water is to use water-wise landscaping, efficient irrigation and reclaimed water.
- IUSD saves approximately 219 million gallons of potable water annually using reclaimed water for irrigation.
- Water is saved by using drip irrigation, automatic irrigation controls, flow sensors and master valves.
- Drought-tolerant plants have been integrated into the outdoor landscaping.
- IUSD developed a Progressive Pest Management Program, for IUSD landscape and building maintenance, which goes beyond Integrated Pest Management Plans. In addition to being compliant with the Healthy Schools Act, IUSD uses non-chemical, organic and non-toxic methods as a first choice and we have banned certain pesticides.
- The District established a community-based Pest Management Committee, which includes IUSD staff and representatives from Non-Toxic Neighborhoods, the City of Irvine, and the University of California, Irvine. The committee meets quarterly to review and discuss pest management best practices to continually improve the District’s Progressive Pest Management Program.
- Fertilization and weed control is 100 percent organic districtwide providing safe and healthy playing spaces.
- IUSD promotes school gardens to educate students and provide hands-on learning.
To learn more about how IUSD works toward protecting the environment every day of the year, not just on Earth Day, visit iusd.org/sustainability and view recent solar and sustainability presentations to the Board of Education for more details.