Green Schools Initiative
For 10 years, Omaha Public Schools has worked to reduce district-wide consumption of natural resources and to embed environmental responsibility in our culture through the Green Schools Initiative. Students collect recycling, serve as energy managers, pick up litter, plant trees, and participate in related community events. Green Champions - including building administrators, teachers, custodians, and staff - bring sustainability to life in their classrooms and buildings. Since 2010, Omaha Public Schools has seen a positive culture change, dramatically reduced its environmental impact, and accumulated approximately $16 million in cost savings. Through energy conservation measures, the district has avoided a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions - about 160,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide cumulatively.
Environmental Stewardship Plan
Our district's most recent sustainability goals, which helped drive success over the past decade, expired in December 2019. As we work to implement the goals of our Strategic Plan of Action, we’re refocusing on our role as stewards of our environment. As noted in the Strategic Plan of Action, our goal is to create a district plan for improved environmental stewardship for presentation to the Board of Education. Verdis Group, our longtime local partner on this journey, will help lead us through a student-centered process to establish new goals, identify strategies for meeting these goals, and lay out a plan for implementing the strategies. The outcome will be a roadmap for the next 10 years, which will help us innovate and strive for a better future for our students - one with clean air and water, less plastic in our oceans, fewer wildfires and floods, and strong long-term job prospects for OPS students.
During Fall 2021, we completed a number of activities as part of the process to create the Environmental Stewardship Plan:
- Peer/industry research
- Interviews with key Omaha Public Schools leaders
- District-wide survey
- Completion of a greenhouse gas inventory
- Updates to key indicator baselines through ongoing energy, water, and waste data analysis
- Environmental Stewardship Plan Taskforce visioning workshop
Moving into the Spring Semester of 2022, we will be convening seven Focus Teams to develop strategies and goals for the Environmental Stewardship Plan:
We are also engaging students in this process by assisting them to develop presentations or other projects related to Environmental Stewardship. These activities will provide them with real-world experiences and educational opportunities to further their learning. This group of students will also be involved in helping to shape the vision, goals, and strategies of Environmental Stewardship for the district.
Goals and strategies are tentatively planned to be released for review in June.
Green Ribbon Award
The Green Ribbon Award recognizes schools that reduce their environmental impact, improve the health and wellness of schools and occupants, and provide environmental education. Omaha Public Schools won the 2014 District Green Ribbon Sustainability award and 10 schools have earned Green Ribbon awards over the entirety of the program so far. Showing progress towards these goals illustrates the District’s commitment to resource reduction and improving the health and wellness of the District. Below is a list of schools that have earned awards:
- Miller Park Elementary
- Lothrop Elementary
- King Science
- District Award
- Fontenelle Elementary
- Gomez Heritage Elementary
- Wilson Focus School
- Davis Middle
- Chandler View Elementary
- Northwest High
Omaha Public Schools conducted an energy study of all our buildings. The study identified energy efficiency and cost-saving opportunities. Our district partnered with Verdis Group, an Omaha sustainability consulting firm, to evaluate all of the district’s occupied buildings using the ENERGY STAR system. The district’s Energy Management Team implements best practices to ensure Omaha Public Schools is improving. The team is always hard at work identifying ways that our buildings can be more energy-efficient while ensuring that they are adequately heated, cooled, illuminated and have excellent indoor air quality. Energy efficiency is a collaborative effort. Building students, staff and administrators all play a vital role in conserving energy and resources.
The following schools have earned Energy Star Awards: Beals Elementary, Buffett Middle, Harrison Elementary, Jackson Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Kennedy Elementary, King Science Middle, Marrs Middle, Miller Park Elementary, Ponca Elementary, Rose Hill Elementary, Sherman Elementary, Springville Elementary, Wakonda Elementary and Washington Elementary.
LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. The following schools have achieved LEED certification: Educare at Indian Hill, Gateway Elementary, North High addition, Davis Middle