San Francisco Unified School District earns national Green Ribbon Schools award

San Francisco Unified School District earns national Green Ribbon Schools award

Press Release

April 29, 2016 (San Francisco) – The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the San Francisco Unified School District a 2016 Green Ribbon Schools award for environmental accomplishments.

Nationwide, 47 schools, 15 districts and 11 postsecondary institutions were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

SFUSD has several initiatives and ongoing programs related to sustainability, such as:

  • SFUSD has one of the highest diversion rates of any public school district in the country, thanks to its partnership with the SF Department of the Environment and Recology. Schools are working toward a diversion rate of over 85 percent by 2025.
  • SFUSD rewards schools for reducing their utility usage by returning 50 percent of the generated savings to each school.
  • The district is working on a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) strategy with the goal of having all new construction be ZNE-ready and cutting the energy usage of existing buildings in half by 2030. The district’s newest school, Willie Brown MS, is on track to receive 50 points in the CA Collaborative for High-Performance Schools (CHPS) rating system.
  • The district is reducing its water usage in the face of the California drought by replacing inefficient aerators and fixtures, repairing underground leaks with the help of real-time water meters, and reducing landscaping usage by 25 percent.
  • The district promotes green transportation alternatives via its Safe Routes to School program at 37 school sites. Middle-school biking rates are up 600 percent over the past six years and over 60 percent of high schoolers take public transit.
  • SFUSD's Environmental Science Center has been providing standards-based environmental education in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area since 1976.

“Thanks to our educators, along with Education Outside and the Environmental Science Center, environmental education is being infused into the curriculum on a weekly basis at the majority of our schools,” said Superintendent Richard A. Carranza. “Within a few years, we expect to be reaching all elementary school students in outdoor classrooms at every school.”

The SFUSD Sustainability Office, one of the first in the country at a major public school district, coordinates all efforts to reduce utility usage, waste generation and school-related car trips. Since 2008-10, the district has reduced its energy usage by 35 percent, cut water usage by 18 percent, and improved its composting and recycling rate from 38 percent to 65 percent. In addition, half of the district’s students get to school without a car.

“SFUSD staff and partners have worked aggressively to make good on the commitments outlined in the Board of Education’s 2010 sustainability resolution,” said SFUSD Director of Sustainability Nik Kaestner.

Green Ribbon School Districts demonstrate exemplary achievement in three pillars. Pillar I: reduce environmental impact and costs; Pillar II: improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and Pillar III: provide effective environmental education that teaches many disciplines and is especially good at effectively incorporating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, civic skills, and green career pathways.

For more information, visit the Green Ribbon Schools Award Program.

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Page updated on 04/29/16

This page was last updated on June 27, 2021