San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has won the Transformation Award for its work setting goals to reach carbon neutrality by 2040. The award was given by the Center for Green Schools and the Green Schools National Network (GSNN) during the recent Green Schools Conference and Expo, where the 2017 Best of Green Schools honorees were announced. The awards recognize and highlight significant sustainability efforts at schools across the country.
SFUSD has set forth a plan that includes multiple measures and target dates to guide the district to the 2040 goals. The plan includes ZNE retrofits on existing school buildings, ZNE-ready status on all new construction (defined by an EUI of less than 20), zero-emission fleet vehicles and buses, and all planning for deferred maintenance must meet new ZNE standards.
The District is aligning their own carbon neutrality plan with the City and County of San Francisco’s Climate Action Plan, to help the region meet an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To pay for the upgrades needed to meet the 2040 goal, SFUSD is leveraging funds from voter-supported bonds, Proposition 39 funding, and funding from the San Francisco Public Utility Commission to implement the deep energy efficiency measures and photovoltaic integration needed to be a ZNE or ZNE-ready building. Schools that are operating at ZNE performance levels can be rewarded by signing up for a shared savings plan that allocates a percentage of financial savings back to the school to spend as they like.
Work to bring the district to carbon neutrality offers an opportunity to educate students. Nik Kaestner, Director of Sustainability for San Francisco Unified School District, describes the intersection of the plan with the district’s education mission… “If we want our students to understand how to work toward a sustainable future, they need to see sustainability in action in the building where they spend the majority of their waking hours. This means teaching sustainability not just in the classroom, but in and with the school itself.”
Along with the steps to meet these goals internally, SFUSD is embarking on an education mission to share their experience in carbon reduction with other districts. With these educational efforts, SFUSD may have a much broader influence then they had hoped for.