This April, for the third year in a row, ISTP was invited to Palo Alto City Hall to receive the Green Business Leader Award from the Mayor. The award “recognizes and promotes Palo Alto companies who have made major strides in improving building energy efficiency,” and ISTP was one of only eight organizations honored this year.
ISTP began on the path towards becoming a green school several years ago, motivated by the belief that environmental stewardship helps fulfill our school’s mission to promote responsible international consciousness. By taking responsibility for the environmental impact of our own buildings and our own community, we believe we can contribute to the well-being of the planet as a whole, and serve as a model for our students.
Our work towards becoming a green school, led by Facilities Director Nic Guedenet, has focused on three areas – energy and water efficiency, waste management, and using green materials in the daily operations of our facilities. From cleaning supplies to paper towels, to cups and plates and much more, all the supplies we use on a daily basis are green seal certified and recyclable/compostable.
We have recycling and composting bins throughout both campuses, and have educated all our faculty, staff, and students about how to correctly dispose of their waste.
Throughout the recent renovations on Cohn and Cowper Campuses, we have used green-certified materials whenever possible. We have updated materials and systems throughout the building to the highest possible efficiency level, which allowed us to reach the 86th percentile of energy efficiency for our type of building last year.
One additional benefit to “going green” is the money we can save, now and into the future. We have cut our trash bill in half, and last year we saved between $10,000 and $12,000 on our electric/gas bill alone.
We also incorporate concepts of environmental responsibility at all levels of our curriculum. This past week our elementary school students took part in an Earth Day fair in which they learned about the water cycle and water conservation, sorted trash, studied how long it takes different waste items to decompose, planted herb pots for the lunch tables, and created art out of recycled materials. On Cowper, we also held an Earth Day fair, assisted by the ISTP 5th graders.
Of course, our students address environmental topics in the classroom throughout the year, not just on Earth Day. For example, students have been learning about the California drought and brainstorming how to solve it, and studying how geography affects climate. On Cowper Campus, we maintain a garden to teach students about plants and how food is grown. As a leading green school, we are very proud that we are able to both teach these lessons and live them out.
Reflecting on his work making ISTP into a “green business leader,” Facilities Director Nic Guedenet says, “doing the right thing for our environment and our planet supports our mission; it supports who we are and who we want to be. It is simply the right thing to do, and we need to practice what we teach. We know that if we lead the way, it will trickle down to our students and our community, and will reinforce our ability to be an innovative and caring educational institution.”