After a lengthy and rigorous application process that included verification inspections to confirm the school operates in an environmentally sound manner, Bishop O’Dowd High School was certified as a Bay Area Green Business on June 27, 2016.
The certification not only confirms that O’Dowd has made outstanding efforts to comply with environmental requirements, but has also achieved excellence in reducing hazardous and solid waste generation, conserving resources and preventing pollution.
Director of Sustainability Andra Yeghoian has been leading the Bay Area Green Business certification effort since she was hired three years ago.
“The certification process acted as a roadmap for us in determining priorities and areas of focus. It helped us establish our ‘green baseline’ for our larger goals such as carbon neutrality, zero waste, and overall greenhouse gas emissions reduction. The certification process also engaged stakeholders from across the campus, as it touched every aspect of our facilities and operations,” Yeghoian said.
O’Dowd is the first and only Catholic school in Alameda County certified as a Bay Area Green Business, and Yeghoian hopes to lead the effort to help other schools become certified. “Most of the changes required will result in cost savings, not cost out the door,” she said.
Yeghoian points out that return on investment for energy projects is a short period that results in reduction in overall energy bills. “Additionally, reduction in water use results in costs savings during the drought period when steep fines and higher rates were implemented,” she said.
“The certification process also engaged stakeholders from across the campus, as it touched every aspect of our facilities and operations”
The verification process took the form of audits, and a host of areas were systematically evaluated, such as waste, energy, water, pollution, and more.
A sampling of outcomes of the audit includes:
- Comprehensive energy plan that should bring us to carbon neutrality
- Several water leaks on campus were detected and corrected
- Waste diverted from landfill to recycling and compost
- Improved labeling of and disposal of hazardous waste from the chemistry lab
- Introduction of non-toxic cleaning products by the school’s janitorial services provider, which are better for the environment and also resulted in improved health for custodians
“This process exemplifies our commitment to being green. We put a lot of time and energy into achieving this certification,” Yeghoian said.
O’Dowd is now listed in the Alameda County Green Business Directory. Check out the listing of Green Businesses…