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King County Green Schools Program recognizes six schools, helps schools achieve results


More than 200 schools from 33 cities throughout King County are reducing waste and recycling, conserving resources, and reducing costs with help from the county's Green Schools Program.


More than 200 schools from 33 cities throughout King County are reducing waste and recycling, conserving resources, and reducing costs with help from the County's Green Schools Program. 

“This month we are recognizing six schools for their Green School achievements,” said Dale Alekel, Green Schools Program manager. “Participating schools and school districts are initiating or improving sustainable practices and are teaching students and employees about conservation.”

The County’s Green Schools Program involves students and school employees in learning about and practicing resource conservation. Alekel said that participating schools and school districts have reported saving money through reduced garbage volumes and decreased energy and water use.

“The King County Green Schools Program directly supports our goal of increasing the County’s recycling rate from 52 percent to 70 percent by 2030,” said Pat McLaughlin, director of the King County Solid Waste Division.

During the last school year, 75 percent of participating schools achieved recycling rates of at least 40 percent, and 15 percent of those schools reached recycling rates of 60 percent and above.

King County Solid Waste Division’s Green Schools Program, which assists and recognizes individual schools and school districts for reducing garbage, conserving energy, and saving water, has added a fourth level: “Sustaining Green School.”

“For students, teachers, custodians, administrators, and other community members such as parents who have joined together to achieve the first three levels of the program, the Sustaining Green School level offers an incentive to sustain and build on their good work,” said Alekel.

To qualify for Level Four recognition, a school or school district selects and completes an additional conservation practice or educational strategy from the program’s Best Practices Guides, while maintaining conservation strategies achieved during the first three levels of the program.

The program has served a growing number of schools each year, from 100 schools in 2009-10 to 213 schools (40 percent of the schools in King County outside the City of Seattle) thus far in 2014-15. The program also assists school districts, with 12 districts currently participating. 

Of the 213 schools participating in the County program, 187 have completed Level One, 109 have completed Level Two, and 69 have completed Level Three. This winter, one school is being recognized as a Sustaining Green School.

The six schools listed below are being recognized this month for completing Green School actions and education.
Level Four – Sustaining Green School

• Endeavour Elementary School (Issaquah School District) is the first school to be recognized as a Sustaining Green School. Endeavour sustained its Level One waste reduction and recycling practices, Level Two energy conservation practices, and Level Three water conservation strategies. In 2014, the school began to collect paper towels in its classroom compostable materials containers. Green Team students emptied classroom containers into an outdoor container that goes to a regional composting facility.

Level Three - Water Conservation and Pollution Prevention

In addition to the actions listed below, Level Three schools sustained the waste reduction, recycling, and energy conservation practices they initiated or improved in levels One and Two.

• Chestnut Hill Academy (private school, Bellevue) incorporated water conservation and pollution prevention information into its fourth grade curriculum and students went on a field trip to their local watershed. The student Green Team measured water flow from school faucets, reported findings, and installed faucet aerators as needed.

• East Hill Elementary School (Kent School District) students used the regional Puget Sound Starts Here campaign to educate students, staff, and families about reducing storm water pollution. Most school faucets were equipped with sensors to automatically turn off when not in use and signs were posted near sinks to remind students and staff to turn off faucets when not in use and to report leaks.

• Secondary Academy for Success (Northshore School District) included water conservation tips and facts in its regular school bulletin. Ninth through 12th-grade students toured the Duwamish River and learned about toxins in the water. Ninth-graders also toured King County’s South Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Ballard Locks, and Issaquah Salmon Hatchery to learn how pollution affects waterways and fish.

Level Two - Energy Conservation

• Discovery Elementary School (Issaquah School District) Green Team educated the school about ways to conserve energy through announcements and staff meeting presentations. Student “Power Rangers" in each classroom used a checklist at the end of each day to remind students and teachers about energy conservation practices. The school also maintained its Level One waste reduction and recycling practices. 

Level One - Waste Reduction and Recycling

• Horizon Elementary School (Kent School District) reduced its garbage volume by 8.4 cubic yards per month, thanks to waste reduction and recycling actions. To reduce waste, bulk condiment dispensers and loose disposable utensils were used in the cafeteria.

Learn more by contacting Alekel at 206-477-5267, or