With over 5,000 acres of land, 650 buildings, roughly 139,000 students, and 19,000 employees, just how “Green” is CMS? After doing some research and talking to several CMS officials , it turns out the answer is “very.” Environmental Stewardship is part of the recently unveiled Strategic Plan 2014, specifically Policy ECF.
CMS has partnered with the North Carolina Department of the Environmental Natural Resources on their Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI). Through this partnership they have added support and resources in the form of training, mentors, and the help of experts in the field. CMS is the first K-12 school system recognized as an NC ESI partner.
Bryan Steiner, Construction Engineer for CMS, is excited about having Duke Energy as another “Green” partner. Third and Fourth grade students benefit from Duke's 'Power in Energy' education program, and the company even gives energy usage updates to energy coordinators at each school. Monitoring usage motivates students and staff alike to conserve. Duke Energy has paid CMS nearly $100,000 in incentives for using more efficient lighting, replacing outdated HVAC, and other improvements.
CMS is participating in the federal Energy Star program, and has been recognized as an Energy Star leader based on their “Green” efforts over the last 2 school years. 11,000 metric tons of CO2 per year has been kept from entering the atmosphere since participation in the program began. All appliances in new or renovated schools are Energy Star rated.
The district is working to “Green” all of its operations. Consolidating the summer work week to four days , for example, has saved about $500,000 in cooling costs this year alone. If you visit just about any school in the district, you will see students recycling paper, teachers turning off lights and computers, office staff printing with recyclable toner cartridges, cafeteria staff recycling food cans, and janitorial staff using environmentally friendly products. Brian Kasher, Manager of Environmental Health and Safety for CMS, explained that anything residents recycle using their curbside service is also recycled in the schools thanks to Mecklenburg's 'single stream program.'
Sustainable purchasing is to thank for 900,000 gallons of “Green” cleaning products being used annually. If you visit a newly renovated or built school, you will notice that architects took advantage of natural light with the use of transom windows and the siting of the building on the property. In bathrooms alone, CMS specifies low-flow fixtures and hand dryers to reduce waste. The school system is considering sustainability before the schools are designed.
Stay connected for Part 2 of “Going Green in CMS”