Mountain View Voice

News - October 21, 2011

MVLA is Bay Area's first district to go all-green

by Nick Veronin

The Mountain View-Los Altos High School District is the first district in the Bay Area to have all of its campuses and facilities designated "green" by a county green business agency.

"I'm really happy that our school community has come together to make sustainability a priority," Barry Groves, superintendent of the district, said of the certification, awarded by the Santa Clara Green Business Program.

Groves gave credit to many people throughout his district for helping secure the award, which required all four MVLA campuses and the district headquarters to increase energy efficiency, cut down on certain cleaning agents and beef up its recycling program, among other efforts. In particular, Groves applauded the students behind Los Altos High School's Green Team.

The Green Team initiated the process of getting the district certified back in 2010, Groves said. They were the first to approach the county's Green Business Program and Los Altos High School was the first in the district to earn the designation.

After the Los Altos campus was certified, Mountain View High School, Alta Vista High School, the Adult Education Center and the district office followed suit.

All nine Bay Area counties use the same process for certifying green businesses and school districts within their respective jurisdictions. Yet, while many districts throughout the Bay Area have at least one or more campuses that have been certified green, no district has all of its campuses and other major facilities certified, according to Ceil Scandone, regional coordinator for the Association of Bay Area Governments, an organization through which all of the Bay Area counties network with each other.

Since Los Altos High School was first certified, the district has installed solar panel arrays at its two main high schools — Los Altos and Mountain View. But the award was given not for the major solar project, but for doing simpler things, like installing more energy efficient light bulbs and appliances, cutting down on water use and choosing more environmentally friendly office products and cleaning supplies.

In order to be certified, each campus was required to meet the requirements outlined in an 11-page checklist provided by the Green Business Program. The checklist outlined "rigorous sustainability standards in the areas of solid waste reduction and recycling, water and energy conservation, pollution prevention and greenhouse gas emission controls," according to an MVLA press release. "In each of these areas, Mountain View-Los Altos School District exceeded the number of required and suggested green actions."

Groves said that meeting and exceeding the requirements on the list was fairly easy and cost the district very little. "Everybody is motivated in this area," he said, commenting on the environmentally conscious attitude of the local community and his district's students in particular. "They all want to do more for sustainability."

And Groves fully expects that his district will do more in the future to reduce its environmental impact. "I think we can do more, and we are looking at ways that we can improve our effort," he said. "As a public agency, we need to be a model for the community and our students. As an institution we need to be good stewards of our environment."

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