SustainAbility: District recognition

Mesa County Valley School District 51 is taking major steps down the road to sustainability and getting recognition for doing so.

Earlier this month, Trane company presented the district with an award for being a leader in energy efficiency in education after working with the energy conservation specialists to enact efficiency measures in all 47 of its buildings.

The first phase of projects is almost complete and involves installing energy efficient light fixtures and motion-sensor light controls in all district buildings.

The second phase began in February and includes replacing boilers, swapping out electric stoves for natural gas ones and installing Web-enabled thermostats in 14 schools. This phase encompasses many other projects and should be completed before the end of summer.

A third phase most likely will involve water conservation measures, as well as photovoltaic and geothermal projects.

The contract with Trane primarily will be paid for through energy savings and assisted by rebates from Xcel Energy, grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a low-interest Qualified Energy Conservation Bond and additional ARRA funds through the governor’s Energy Office.

Elsewhere in the district, in spite of budget constraints tightening the reins on personnel hours, Nutrition Services has been making a concerted effort to reduce the use of disposable food service items.

“As stewards to the taxpayer, all D51 kitchens are aligning labor schedules to industry standards. We have provided a list of fiscal strategies the site manager can choose from on short staff days when substitutes are unavailable, e.g. one of those strategies is to utilize disposables versus normal tray washing,” explained Dan Sharp, Nutrition Services director.

Although managers at each school cafeteria may choose to fall back on disposables for occasional use when short on staff, the district encourages them to reduce the amount of Styrofoam used.

This effort has been so successful the district has decreased the amount of money spent on disposable products by 30 percent over the past three years.

I might be stubborn, but I can admit when I am wrong. Laurie Reiser (master gardener), you were right and the drawers we were using for our tabletop, square-foot garden already have started to fall apart.

Always ready with a solution, my husband, Jim the Builder, decided to construct his own version of a platform for my garden. As the Bob the Builder song says, “Can we fix it? Yes we can!”

Less than $100 and many hours later, I now have the sturdiest tabletop gardening unit in the known universe. It took two strong men to move it before there was any soil added.

My plants do seem happy and are all snuggled under a plastic cover waiting out the recent cold temperatures. We have everything planted except for the broccoli raab and baby bok choy seed. Those will get planted after this latest and, hopefully, last cold snap. Photographs will be forthcoming.

Resier said she has already gotten a few requests for gardening information, so don’t be shy and contact her through the Colorado State University Extension office or send her an e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

You can be a tabletop, square-foot gardener, too.


Adele Israel is a Grand Junction writer who has been involved in sustainability efforts for some 20 years. Have a question or column idea for Adele? E-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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