A Green Ribbon School

On Earth Day in 2013, Prospect Sierra was named as one of 64 schools to be honored with the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Award for 2013. Prospect Sierra was the only California private school nominated for this award in February by State Superintendent, Tom Torlakson, for our eco-literacy curriculum and student activity across grade levels in reducing environmental impacts. These activities include the 180-gallon rainwater harvesting system to serve the Avis garden, kindergarteners’ support of the creek restoration project by annual tree-planting trips, and the student-led implementation of our school-wide waste reduction and composting system. This honor was the culmination of years of attention to greening the facilities of the school and educating our students in ecoliteracy.

Institutional Commitment

Prospect Sierra’s current Strategic Plan commits “to support our environmental and green curriculum …[and] lower our carbon footprint and add green areas to the middle school campus.” In 2009 we were part of a focus group organized by Ratcliff Architects to run a complete carbon footprint analysis, and we use that data to help us understand and improve our GHG emissions. In response to that data, the school has installed solar panels, no-flush urinals, and a new energy-efficient boiler. In addition, the school follows a policy of using only reusable or compostable eatware at all school-sponsored events. Our commitment to lowering our environmental impact is pervasive across academic departments and in all school procedures, activities, and events.

At the middle school, our Green Council has developed a Green Master Plan. Aspects of this plan have already been implemented, such as:

  • the creation of a second student garden to expand teaching opportunities and food production
  • developing outdoor education space on a previously inaccessible wooded hillside
  • converting an asphalt playground into a green space that supports a variety of educational and recreational activities
  • designing an outdoor classroom with plants that attract local birds and butterflies

The following projects are currently in development:

  • modernizing 11 classrooms with emphasis on sustainability
  • developing a carbon footprint dashboard to monitor real-time energy and water consumption
  • installing a photovoltaic system at the middle school campus to mirror the 30kw system that was installed at the elementary school campus in 2006
  • actively pursuing transportation solutions for students and staff to further reduce the school’s carbon emissions