Livermore High School has a long tradition of establishing creative systems to reduce waste, improve recycling and reuse materials. The school has won multiple grants to install indoor and outdoor recycling stations throughout the campus including hard to serve areas like the football stadium and gym. Livermore is the recipient of a Green California Partnership Career Academy grant to establish a green career pathway program for students and is working to expand participation in green practices by teachers, students and community members.
Livermore High School's Green Engineering Academy, with support from PG&E and the Alameda County Office of Education's LEEP (Leadership in Energy Efficiency Program), conducted comprehensive energy use audits of their school district's facilities. Students discovered a range of low cost investments that will save the district tens of thousands of dollars each year.
Their efforts were recently celebrated in an ABC news story:
Republished from Livermore High School's blog
LHS is swapping out older Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) iMacs in favor of new "Thin Client" HP computers. This change is occurring in order to use less electricity.
As much as we appreciated having older refurbished iMacs for student use in labs, they used quite a bit of electricity. So, in cooperation with PG&E, and the Energy Conservation Committee of LVJUSD, the older iMacs are being eWasted and ultra-efficient thin client computers are being installed.
PG&E will provide a $60 rebate per CRT computer eWasted. The monetary savings from reduced energy use will pay for the cost of the upgrade.
Thin client computers have no moving parts. There is no fan motor and have no motorized hard disk, so much less energy is needed to operate. Flash memory is utilized, and programs are stored on the LHS server. The LHS server is being upgraded to handle our seventy-seven new thin client computers.
Less energy will be consumed at LHS. Newer, faster computers will be used by students. A win, win!
Livermore's student newspaper includes an environmental "beat" and regular student produced public service advertisments encouraging positive environmental habits.
The effort started when science teacher Stephen Bailey helped journalism teacher Barry Parr purchase a new computer with journalism software using funds generated from campus recycling efforts coordinated by Bailey and his volunteers. In exchange for the new tools, the paper now prints a 1/2 page environmental advertisment in every edition.
Recently, the paper has been running seasonally environmental ads including New Year's resolutions and Cinco De Mayo themed messages.
Click through the gallery below to see more examples:
Livermore High School offers a comprehensive recycling system across all areas of the campus. Each classroom has trash cans paired with recycling. Nearly every outdoor and hallway trash can is paired with a sorting station for recyclables. The campus even has recycling stations at the stadium and is custom building stations for the gym as well.
Livermore High diverts paper, plastic, and metal through its recycling stations and is adding food scrap diversion to all its outdoor stations as well. There are also numerous e-waste stations, battery recharging stations, and other infrastructure in place to handle, reclaim, and process special wastes generated in programs like Auto-Tech and Computer classes.
To manage such a wide-reaching system, science teacher Stephen Bailey has found ways to engage students, teachers and staff from across the campus.
When the system was first developed, custodians were concerned that hauling classroom paper to the recycling dumpster would be extra work. Even though they would be moving the same amount of material, they explained, they would have to make two laps around the campus because their rolling toters could only accommodate one type of waste at a time. Mr. Bailey worked with the custodial staff to purchase rolling toters that could handle two waste streams allowing the custodial staff to move both paper and trash to the dumpsters in one trip around the campus.
The addition of sorting stations in nearly all common areas of the campus and every classroom presented additional benefits and challenges. Students are able to place bottles and cans in separate bins from paper or trash which allows the campus to capture bottles and cans for cash redemption, raising about $3,000 per year.
To manage this system, Mr. Bailey engages the various clubs, athletic teams and other groups on campus. They can sign up to handle the bottle and can recycling for a week at a time with a guaranteed payout of a check to their club for the value of materials collected. Typically, clubs take turns filling a dumpster with recyclables. Livermore High's contract with their waste hauler stipulates that the hauler will pay the school the CRV value of correctly sorted bottles and cans. Mr. Bailey passes these checks from the hauler directly to the clubs that handle the recycling.
Individual students can also sign up for the job, allowing them to earn their yearbook, prom tickets, and other costly school items in exchange for processing the bottles and cans. At times, Bailey uses TA's to pick-up any slack in the system or to help launch a new initiative such as food scrap diversion or rechargeable battery service.
Students and teachers alike continually monitor the system and work toward improvements. Mr. Bailey reports that after club members process the recycling, they become allies in the efforts to get other students to place items in the correct place. At one time, the campus was hit by a rash of vandalism by scavengers that broke the locks on the outdoor recycling stations. The solution? Leave the stations unlocked so they won't be damaged, but pick up materials more frequently to avoid losses to scavengers.
Other words of wisdom from Mr. Bailey
- Start small and gain small wins along the way. Show early successes, and funders will reward with more recycle stations.
- Talk with the Janitors early, and negotiate their loss of recycling dollars in return for them hauling less trash. This has been a problem, as janitors view students recycling as competition for CRV.
- Keep a low profile, and let other people eventually notice improvements, "Looks good," or "...doing the right thing." They will be your allies.
- See if Administration sees recycling/4Rs/Energy conservation as a high priority. Proceed, even though their response may be lukewarm.
On May 29, 2011 Environmental Science Teacher Stephen Bailey and a student presenter provided an overview of Livermore High School's extensive waste reduction efforts to student leaders and teachers at the Leadership and Environmental Action Forum.
Livermore's efforts include:
- Campus-wide indoor and outdoor recycling stations
- Battery recycling and recharging stations
- Energy monitoring and efficiency upgrades
- Partnerships with local businesses to divert coffee grounds to compost
- Extensive participation by a wide range of student clubs and individuals
- Service-learning opportunities for students in a wide range of classes