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 SDCOE Means Business When It Comes to Going Green

The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has been on a green path for many years, not only out of respect for the environment, but also because it’s just good business.

To further boost its green efforts, SDCOE has created its own Green Team and joined REV Sustainability Circles, a program that helps businesses embed sustainable practices throughout their organization.

“It’s part of a bigger program to help districts save money and energy,” said Stephen Kapp, SDCOE energy and resource management specialist. “It’s a prudent thing to do to provide more resources to kids.”

REV Sustainability Circles is a peer-learning program—10 businesses or organizations meet monthly to discuss and learn about all aspects of sustainability. SDCOE’s sustainability circle includes Caltrans, United Way of San Diego County, hotels, and a software company. San Diego Gas & Electric is a significant sponsor of SDCOE’s participation.

The six-month development process yields a customized three- to five-year sustainability action plan, which focuses on policies, projects, and behaviors. The plan is action- and results-driven for implementing initiatives that will help produce energy and cost savings for SDCOE and the school districts we serve.

Companies with robust sustainability programs see increased morale and loyalty among employees, a stronger public image, and more efficient business processes, research has shown. On average, the Sustainability Circle work results in as many as 30 initiatives for a business.

“Ideas are percolating for initiatives around SDCOE,” Kapp said.

Green initiatives are not new to SDCOE. A campaign to go paperless started in 2008, a recycling initiative was started on The Hill last year, and the testing of water-wise irrigation systems began in the fall. The REV Sustainability Circle is a path to leveraging what’s been done to conserve, in addition to engaging employees for new ideas.

In addition to greater efficiency, an eventual goal will be to model and replicate the sustainability practices in support of school districts.

The Green Team has already has established its mission and vision, which includes conserving natural resources by minimizing consumption of energy, water, and materials while reducing waste and increasing student and community awareness through instruction and by example.

Wide-ranging initiative ideas at the facilities or operational levels are welcome—it could be a physical project, an energy or lighting program, or a policy. The most useful ones will be those with qualitative, measurable results, the Green Team said.