District recognized at statewide green schools summit 

Santa Cruz City Schools District was presented with the 2012 Green Schools Leadership

Goats graze at Santa Cruz High School in green landscaping program

 Award in the “District” category at the annual Green Schools Summit on September 22, 2012, in Pasadena, California. The award is given to “the school district that has demonstrated support for green building and other green programs through passing resolutions, backing…financial vehicles for green building projects and for having an overall vision of sustainability that exists district-wide.”

The district was nominated by Deborah Moore, the nationally recognized executive director of the Berkeley-based Green Schools Initiative. Led by the work of the district’s Green Schools Committee, numerous strategies have been successfully pursued by the district to reduce energy use and save money. For example, energy costs in 2010-2011 were 13% lower than in 2008.

Soquel High School solar panels

“This award is a testimony to the commitment of our whole community,” said Ken Wagman, Santa Cruz City Schools board president and chair of the Green Schools Committee. “Over the past five years, an amazing collaboration among staff, teachers, board members, administrators, students, parents, and local non-profits has worked to ‘green’ school buildings and reduce our carbon footprint. Perhaps the more lasting impact, though, will come from having introduced curriculum to teach these values to our students.”

A partial list of strategies includes:

  • Solar panels at Santa Cruz High School that have offset the carbon dioxide equivalent to 500 mature trees since its installation in November 2009.
  • Soquel High Schools’ solar system has produced renewable energy equivalent to 116,212 gallons of gas.
  • School buses retrofitted to reduce diesel particulate emissions.
  • PG&E rebates have been used to replace 77 older thermostats with 365 programmable thermostats – adding both energy and operational efficiencies that will cut down on district costs.
  • Establishment of the district’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy.

The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy (EPPP) was established to help Santa Cruz City Schools improve its environmental footprint through purchasing practices that seek out goods and services that have a lighter impact on human health and the environment. This policy demonstrates the district’s commitment to environmental stewardship by guiding purchasing decisions towards more environmentally friendly products and services. It also encourages fiscal responsibility in purchasing decisions.

Quick facts about what the district purchases via the EPPP:

  • Low-mercury florescent lamps
  • Electrical equipment with energy star features
  • Copy paper that is 30% post-consumer recycled
  • Toilet paper that is made from 100% recycled paper
  • Paper towel rolls made from 100% recycled paper
  • Certified green floor stripper (non-butyl)
  • Certified green glass cleaner
  • File storage boxes are made from 65% recycled material
  • Multi-fold towel made from 100% recycled paper
  • Facial tissue made from 100% recycled paper
  • Toilet seat liners made from 100% recycled paper with 40% of it post-consumer use


The Green California Schools Summit was established to provide a meeting place for stakeholders in the greening of California’s schools – from facility managers, finance officers, teachers and administrators to architects, engineers and curriculum developers. As one of the nation’s largest annual green school events, the Summit provides a unique opportunity to share innovations in policy, technology and practice. California has long been on the leading edge of the green schools movement; it was here that the nation’s first green building rating program for K-12 schools was created. Learn more at http://www.green-technology.org/gcschools/.


In April 2007, the Santa Cruz City Schools Board of Trustees created the district’s Green Schools Committee with a charge “to develop and recommend to the Board policies that meet State standards, lighten the District’s environmental footprint and integrate environmental education and student participation in environmental initiatives using partnerships with environmental education and public and non-profit agencies.” The Green Schools Committee includes members from across the school community, as well as the greater Santa Cruz community. Members represent district staff, teachers, and trustees, parents, students, area non-profits and local government.