Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is committed to modeling environmental stewardship, wisely managing the use of natural resources, and supporting conservation in order to create and maintain sustainable, healthy school environments.

The SPS five-year strategic plan, Excellence for All, include goals to strengthen and align science curriculum so that students can graduate from high school prepared for college, careers and life. Many of the sustainable projects funded through the capital levies, Building Excellence (BEX) and Buildings, Technology and Academics (BTA) provide direct learning opportunities in environmental science.

In November 2006, the Seattle School Board adopted a policy that affirms that Seattle Public Schools will wisely manage the use of natural resources and maintain programs that support conservation of energy and other natural resources.

As part of a deep commitment to this policy, SPS complies with the State of Washington’s sustainable schools protocol, a tool developed to help school districts comply with the goals of the state’s High Performing Public Buildings Act as it relates to public schools. It is a planning tool that allows designers to plan a high-performance school while considering the regional, district, and site-specific possibilities and constraints for each project.

Using Buildings, Technology and Academics (BTA) and Building Excellence (BEX) for Sustainability Improvements

One method SPS uses to implement sustainable practices and programs is capital improvements funded by BTA levies and BEX levies approved by Seattle voters. Hundreds of projects funded through Buildings, Technology and Academics (BTA) and Building Excellence (BEX) include opportunities to reduce use of electricity, water and other natural resources. Using resources wisely produces cost savings that allow general operating funds to be targeted to other areas that improve teaching and learning.

Beyond the costs savings, multiple studies have shown significant benefits in student health and learning through the use of green building practices.

Capital improvement projects include energy conservation components in the project scope. Prioritized lists based on building conditions and expected lifespan of materials and equipment help drive decisions on which projects will provide the most benefit.

In addition to creating energy savings and the associated cost reductions, capital improvements also follow green building processes that reduce waste and lower carbon footprints.

Sustainable/green building practices are planned for use in projects funded through the upcoming BTA III levy in February 2010. Some of practices are already in use through projects funded by the BEX levies and the BTA I and BTA II levies include:

  • Renovating instead of tearing down entire buildings when possible.
  • Replacing single-paned windows with energy efficient thermal pane windows.
  • Adding additional insulation to roofs when re-roofing.
  • Retrofitting or replacing inefficient mechanical equipment used for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) with more efficient equipment that saves money, produces less emissions, keeps temperatures more even and improves air quality.
  • Replacing impervious surfaces with surfaces that allow rain water to soak into the ground or be collected for watering.
  • Installing more energy efficient lighting, faucets and toilets.
  • Recycling materials
  • Using more environmentally friendly products such as carpets, floor tile and wall coverings.

Energy Grants Help Improve School Buildings