StopWaste at School


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Berkeley High

Berkeley High School seeks to be a leader in green programming and education.  The campus was one of the first large, comprehensive high schools in the Bay Area to offer food scrap composting in its cafeteria and the school hosts a Green Academy dedicated to preparing students to understand and actively engage in creating and environmentally sustainable and socially just world.  The school has implemented many innovative practices including faculty use of google docs, year end locker clean-out/reuse projects, and on-campus composting as part of the AP Environmental Science garden.

Berkeley High Students Help Promote Zero-Waste at Cal

Berkeley High Student VolunteersBerkeley High Student VolunteersOn January 21st, 17 enthusiastic and environmentally conscious Berkeley High School students volunteered to help reduce waste and educate the public at the Cal Basketball game versus Arizona State.

The student leaders arrived early to Haas Pavilion in Berkeley to receive outreach training from the UC Berkeley Zero Waste 2020 organization on campus as well as StopWaste, rx the Alameda Waste Management Authority. The Berkeley High School student leaders learned how to engage with excited fans about how to best dispose of their uneaten food and other refuse items in the most environmentally sustainable way.

During the first half of the game, the Berkeley High School ;student leaders stood near the refuse stations that are placed around Haas Pavilion. These stations consist of three bins: Organics, Recycling and Landfill. The goal during this event was to both teach the greater community where to place their refuse items and to allow the students to further develop their environmental leadership and outreach skills.

After a job well done, the Berkeley High School students were able to go up into the stands and enjoy the second half of the 75-70 Cal victory.

The Cal campus currently has a 50% diversion rate and is well on its way to achieving its goal of being a zero waste campus by 2020. Through outreach efforts combining Cal Athletics, StopWaste and engaged student leaders from the local community, the goal is on track to become a reality.  


Think Before You Throw

Students from Berkeley High's Green Team worked in a "Climate Challenges, Climate Solutions" summer internship with the Green Schools Initiative and Berkeley Climate Action Coalition to create an educational video highlighting waste reduction opportunities for schools.

Funded in part by an Altamont Education Advisory Board grant, the video features 4Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, & Rot) messages, an interview with the City of Berkeley's Recycling Manager and endorsements from Berkeley's Mayor and Superintendent of schools.

The  video is being used in classrooms and at assemblies in Berkeley schools to help students understand why it's so important to reduce waste, and how to sort waste properly at school.

Think Before You Throw from Green Schools Initiative on Vimeo.

Redistributing Reclaimed School Supplies

At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, medications students at Berkeley High School collected used, order but useable school supplies during locker clean-out. This year, science teacher Kate Trimlett is distributing the materials to students who need school supplies.


Reclaimed School SuppliesReclaimed School Supplies



Green Building Exam

Green Building ModelGreen Building ModelStudents in Berkeley High School's Green Academy 10th Grade Introduction to Environmental Science presented their green building designs to a panel of community experts as a part of their final exam on Wednesday, January 23. Teacher Kate Trimlett designed the exam to give students a hands-on opportunity to show how well they could integrate concepts into a cohesive project, and then explain their work to others.

Roof top garden, solar, raincatchment and clothesline.Roof top garden, solar, raincatchment and clothesline.

Working alone or in teams, students designed homes for a green future. Most homes included standard items like solar panels, compost bins, and clothes lines. Each home featured unique and surprising elements of creativity and design.  One design specified bioluminescent indoor lighting by using living organisms to produce a comfortable yellow light. Another home was sited on two rivers in order to provide water, transportation, small scale hydro-electric power and temperature moderation.


Student creativity abounded in the actual construction of the models -transforming cardboard into walls, plastic packaging into windows, and rolled magazine paper into window blinds. A portion of a water bottle made for a curved "glass" shower stall in one home, while another house featured "skylights" made from empty plastic applesauce cups.

Nearly every group highlighted the connection between the green features of the home and the green lifestyle of the residents. Imagining themselves in one home, a group of students noted: "We won't need a TV or video games; we'll have each other to keep ourselves entertained." Another group planned to take their home entirely "off the grid" and realized their "free time" would be spent gardening, hanging laundry, and exploring the woods near the home. Many groups advocated communal housing to place many families in one building to share energy intensive rooms like kitchens while minimizing the physical footprint of the building itself.

Student Design teamStudent Design teamTo prepare students for the final exam, Trimlett organized a field trip funded by the Altamont Education Advisory Board and led by Bay Area Green Tours. Students toured green homes and businesses to learn more about design thinking and to study specific systems such as energy or water. Elements from the field trip such as rain catchment systems, reused and salvaged materials, passive solar heating and daylighting were present in most designs.

Judges included educators, architects, executive directors from two environmental non-profit organizations, parents and others.  Each judge was tasked with measuring student effort and understanding in several green-building concepts including the siting and location of the building, the use of renewable or reusable resources, efforts to reduce construction impacts, the use of green space, and other factors. Judges tallied their scores using a modified LEED scale to award silver, gold or platinum status to the designs.

Green Building and Renewable Energy Tour

Berkeley High School's Green Academy Field Trips ~Article and photos republished from Bay Area Green Tours

Green Building
Visiting David Kruse at Kruse PlumbingVisiting David Kruse at Kruse PlumbingWe extended our focus on water to green building with Berkeley High School's Green Academy on December 13th. The United Nations Environmental Program suggests that buildings consume one-fifth of the world's available water! Hence, the importance of connecting resource management to building design.

Our Green Building tour with Berkeley High School was led by our resident expert in Architecture, Dorrice Pyne. The agenda featured Urban Ore, Kruse Plumbing, Metro Lighting, the McGee House designed by Karl Wanaselja and Cate Leger(Boat House),David Brower Center and Gather Restaurant. Through this jam-packed schedule, students gained insight into material reuse, water and energy management, and creative design.

Renewable Energy
The United States currently uses about a quarter of the energy produced globally. On December 13th and 14th, Bay Area Green Tours led two Renewable Energy Tours for Berkeley High School to examine current trends in energy production and consumption.

At the West County Waste Water Treatment Plant, we again examined the impressive Solar Power Partners Array that provides energy for between 500 and 700 homes in the surrounding Richmond area. Students examined both the technical processes of the modules and discussed market trends for solar energy. Next, we visited the wind turbine and strawbale house at Shorebird Nature Center to look at other applications of alternative energy systems.

Since questions about career paths and employment resonate strongly with young adults, we then went on an exciting tour of the Cypress Mandela Training Center. There, the students had the chance to ask about the rise of vocational training programs and green collar jobs. Lastly, we toured the sticky and intriguing labs of Sirona Biofuels, which serve as a great example of local alternative energy generation.