Sustainability Certifications

Schools that are truly committed to a more sustainable future, aim to prove that by meeting criteria established by third-party certification programs. O’Dowd is a 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School, and a Bay Area Green Certified Business – achieved in June 2016. We were most recently recognized with the 2016 Private School Green Achieve for the CA Green Ribbon Recognition.


Bishop O’Dowd has prioritized energy conservation and a shift to renewable energy sources. Retrofits have reduced energy demand, and each new school year including programming to help students and adults reduce energy wasting behavior.


At O’Dowd, we are taking many steps to both conserve water and protect water quality. Basic conservation efforts have been taken with more efficient indoor plumbing fixtures and fittings. Additionally, water efficient landscaping is modeled through native and drought-tolerant plants in the Living Lab, and efforts have been made to mirror this across the campus.


50% of O’Dowd students take sustainable transportation methods to school (i.e. carpool, buses, BART). A major step forward for the campus was the installation in January 2015 of two electric vehicle charging stations on campus for use by faculty/staff and students.


O’Dowd strives to minimize the amount of waste produced on campus and to properly dispose of the waste we do generate. You will find three bin systems (recycling, compost and landfill) all over campus so students and staff can sort their waste. The Sustainability Department also hosts an annual E-Waste Drive every January so the school community can donate unwanted or broken electronics to a local e-waste recycling company for proper disposal or refurbishment when possible.

Food & Dining

O’Dowd has taken major steps in creating a food and dining experience that improves school food quality, teaches nutrition, and supports sustainable food systems, beginning with a contract with Epicurean Group, a certified Bay Area Green Business. When possible Epicurean chefs incorporate fresh produce from the Living Lab garden into the meals served. Additionally, every Wednesday at lunch students sell “Living Lab Soup” made with veggies from the school’s garden.

Indoor Environmental Air Quality

O’Dowd is taking many steps to ensure 90% occupancy satisfaction, and we are using the CES classrooms as a model for demonstrating quality indoor environment practices such as use of natural lighting, temperature and humidity control through radiant heating and natural ventilation, and air quality sensors.

Construction & Renovation

The completion of the Center for Environmental Studies is an example of our commitment to construction and renovation projects that provide a safe and healthy indoor environment for inhabitants while simultaneously mitigating the building’s impact on the outdoor environment. Furthermore, the construction of the new Center building in 2021 will qualify for a LEED Silver rating, and include solar panels.