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Schools Award Winners 

Teacher - Benjamin Kay

Benjamin Kay, marine scientist and Marine Biology teacher at Santa Monica High School and Santa Monica College, dedicates his life to teaching his students about aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and the human-caused impacts that threaten their fragile existence. Mr. Kay’s courses integrate rigorous curricula with inquiry-based methods, hands-on labs, field trips, expert guest speakers, and frequent civic engagement opportunities. As coach of the multi-award winning environmental science teen action group, Team Marine, and lead advisor of the Solar Boat team, Heal the Bay Surfrider Club and Teach & Test Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program, this versatile teacher engages youth in real research, service learning, and educational outreach activities focused on environmental sustainability. His hope is that his enthusiasm for the marine environment and its long-term preservation will be contagious, and that each year’s student cohort will adopt and propagate the conservation ethic. 


District - Oak Park Unified School District

The Oak Park Unified School District believes it is important to serve as community leaders in the areas of environmental awareness and sensitivity. In addition to incorporating environmental education into its instructional program, the District is working to serve as an example for its students and community. The School Board has adopted principles and practices to accomplish the goal of  greening its campuses. Sustainable, renewable, energy- and resource-efficient programs have been incorporated into Oak Park’s facilities and its maintenance processes to ensure a safe and healthy environment for students and staff; the District is also focused on using sustainable, non-toxic and environmentally friendly products. The District’s Environmental Education and Awareness Committee provides a forum for students, parents, faculty and staff to come together to discuss issues and recommend actions regarding environmental education and sustainability programs. Cool roofs, solar panels and bioswales can be seen throughout the District.


Green Campus - Aveson School of Leaders

The Aveson School of Leaders in Altadena is a new elementary charter school, founded two years ago with a culinary theme. When state budget cuts undermined the culinary charter, Aveson’s staff and parent volunteers formed multiple action teams to help support the school. As budget allocations continue to lag behind needs, volunteer action teams at the school have proliferated. They build and repair structures, create and help maintain the school’s organic garden, raise money through recycling and e-waste collections and many other projects. Working with WasteLess Living, Aveson’s students diverted 88 percent of the school’s organic waste stream within the first week of launching its organic recycling program. With money raised through recycling and other volunteer efforts, the school was able to reinstate its Healthy Gourmet Hot Lunch program, which uses food from the school garden. The aim of these programs is to reach students with personalized lesson plans that integrate real-life applications in areas such as nutrition and social responsibility.


Energy – Antelope Valley Union High School District

The Antelope Valley Union High School District has one of the largest solar power installations in the U.S., expected to save the District $40 million in energy costs over the next 20 years. The solar panels will produce enough energy to power about 85 percent of the District’s electricity needs. Energy-saving measures have been incorporated into all its new and existing facilities, beginning with retrofitting light fixtures in all facilities to high efficiency ballasts and lamps. The savings generated from the reduced electricity costs paid for the retrofit costs in just a few years. Building Management Systems provide control and monitoring of the site’s lighting, heating and air conditioning systems. Light fixtures are controlled by motion sensors and daylighting is incorporated into new schools. The District utilizes drought tolerant plant material and has decreased the amount of turf installed. Weather stations communicate to the onsite irrigation controllers adjusting the water schedule based on current weather conditions.


Curriculum - The Edible Schoolyard Project

The Edible Schoolyard Project's mission is to transform the health and values of every student by building and sharing a food curriculum for the school system. At the flagship program, a one-acre organic garden and kitchen classroom for urban public school students at a middle School in Berkeley students participate in all aspects of growing, harvesting, and preparing nutritious, seasonal produce. Since its establishment by pioneering chef Alice Waters and her Chez Panisse Foundation in 1996, the Edible Schoolyard Project has become an internationally recognized model for educators, parents and students alike on how to effectively integrate food systems concepts into the core curriculum. Students who have a hands-on experience in the kitchen and garden not only take away life-long lessons of nutrition but develop a deeper appreciation of how the natural world sustains us and how what we eat affects the environment and community alike.



Colleges Award Winners

Instructor - Professor John Frala

Professor John Frala teaches Advanced Transportation Technologies and Energy at Rio Hondo College in Whittier. His experience in alternative fuels comes from 41 years in the transportation industry ranging from “gasohol” to Hydrogen, Hybrid electronic power sources, Plug-in Electric vehicles, and Bio fuel construction. Professor Frala has been working with the Electronic Technician’s Association International to create certification standards for Battery Electric Vehicle Technicians. He is a leader in Alternative Fuels Education who has brought the demand for a change in energy usage to the public’s attention through education seminars. The program at Rio Hondo College is one of the seven appointed State Workforce Development centers known as the Alternative Transportation Technologies and Energy initiative. Professor Frala has provided plug-in electric, hybrid and natural gas training for major cities and private fleets throughout the country. The Alternative Fuels Technology program at Rio Hondo has also received recognition from the State of California.


District - Pasadena Area Community College District

Long before “going green” became popular, PCC was the first in the world to install natural-gas-fired turbines to heat its swimming pool and the first to install an ice-based thermal energy storage system for air conditioning. PCC is now seeking to install a solar power array as well as a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell that will convert hydrogen-based fuel into electricity. Among a long list of other accomplishments, PCC has cut water usage by 28 percent through efficiency upgrades, including the installation of computerized weather stations, installed energy-saving LED flood lights, revamped its central chiller plant with ultra-efficient units, installed an energy management system, replaced several acres of asphalt with water-saving landscaping, planted more than 500 trees, changed out obsolete windows in favor of energy-efficient models, cut air-conditioning use, diverted tons of solid waste and recycling from landfills, placed numerous bicycle racks throughout the campus and replaced roofs with white, reflective materials.


Pioneer - Michael Miller

A few months ago, Butte College in Paradise became the first college campus in the nation to go completely “grid positive,” with 25,000 solar panels generating as much, or more, energy than the college needs. Green building and energy efficiency have always been part of the mindset at Butte. In 2002, before greenhouse gas and climate change were common terms, the college set a minimum energy efficiency standard for its buildings of 15 percent under existing state mandates, and all buildings are now built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification standards. Behind this innovative green building program and renewable energy program, is Michael Miller, who recently retired from his post as director of Facilities Planning and Management for the Butte-Glenn Community College District. His passion for sustainability has led to his becoming a national opinion leader and sought-after speaker on campus sustainability, and he has generously given his time to share his experience and knowledge with an ever-expanding audience of people interested in protecting the environment.


Energy - Chabot-Las Positas Community College District

As a signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, the Chabot-Las Positas Community College district pledged to work towards making its campuses carbon neutral. A Climate Action Plan was developed establishing sustainability goals of using renewable energy and energy efficiency goals, leading to significant reductions of the District’s carbon footprint and operating costs. Among its many projects and innovations is an energy storage system that creates ice at night, which is used the next day to cool buildings, saving the district more than $200,000 in energy costs and 1.1 megawatts of energy consumption. A photovoltaic solar system at one college generates over  2 megawatts of power, accounting for over 30 percent of its power. The District has also installed Electric Vehicle Charging Stations and has built its first LEED Gold certified building. Energy usage is being analyzed to identify future energy efficiency projects to offset operating costs through additional energy savings.


Curriculum - RichmondBUILD Green Careers Academy & Contra Costa College

The RichmondBUILD Pre-apprenticeship Construction Skills and Green Jobs Training Academy was first developed in 2007 to create employment and career opportunities in Richmond and the greater Bay Area and to implement a strategy for reducing violence in these communities. By 2009, it had quickly become a national model of an effective public-private partnership focused on developing talent and skills in the high wage construction and renewable energy fields. A strong partnership with Contra Costa College improved curriculum delivery at RichmondBUILD by leveraging staff expertise and equipment resources. As a result, there has been a steady stream of graduates from both Contra Costa and the RichmondBUILD academies who not only understand the importance of sustainable building, but who are also equipped with the tools to construct the homes of the future and upgrade existing ones to much higher levels of efficiency. To date, RichmondBUILD graduates have a 90 percent job placement rate.



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