During the June 2020, Salt Lake Board of Education meeting, students from Highland, East, and West high schools presented a Sustainability Resolution that was revised then unanimously approved! The signing followed a well-organized and articulate student presentation. The resolution addresses concerns such as climate warming trends likely due to human activities, the detrimental effects of climate change through increased temperatures, poor air quality, changes in water systems, increased wildfires, extreme weather events, and other environmental disruptions.
The two primary goals of the resolution are for SLCSD:
1. To use 100 percent clean, renewable energy in its electricity sector by 2030
2. To meet 100% of all district operations energy needs with carbon neutral energy by 2040.
The resolution called for the creation of a Task Force which was to include students, teachers, members of the community, administrators, and energy experts. The Board appointed Paul Schulte, Executive Director Auxiliary Services, Chairperson and required the creation of an action plan that addressed the 9 focus areas included in the resolution. During the October 2021 Board Meeting the Sustainability Action Plan was unanimously adopted by the Board.
Superintendent Timothy Gadson shared a message of commitment and urgency, “The plan will require continued board leadership and bold action across the district, as the costs of inaction are too high.”
The plan provides guidance for district expenditures on energy and water efficiency, use of sustainable construction materials, responsible pest control and green cleaning supplies, and procurement of sustainable office and school supplies. The plan also embraces the tremendous opportunity to teach students about ecological sustainability, environmental health and nutrition and intends that there be a log-term, inspiring vision that integrates and strengthens many efforts in our district.
With the full backing of the board, the district has entered an Energy Saving Performance Contract (ESPC) with McKinstry, an Energy Service Company (ESCO). They will manage implementation of multiple projects including LED lighting retrofits at 37 schools, solar installations at 6 elementary schools, water conservation measures at 41 schools, and mechanical and building automation controls upgrades throughout the district. These efforts are expected to reduce annual utility costs by more than one million dollars while reducing district Carbon Footprint by 30% and water consumption by 11 million gallons! The cost savings will be used to pay for the bulk of these conservation measures making this a near budget neutral endeavor.