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King County Green Schools Program honors four schools for resource conservation


Four King County schools have earned recognition for their resource conservation efforts from the County’s Green Schools Program, which has helped hundreds of schools to engage their students and staff in conservation actions.


Four King County schools have earned recognition for their resource conservation efforts from the County’s Green Schools Program, which has helped hundreds of schools to engage their students and staff in conservation actions.

“Each of these four schools can be proud of how they have involved their students and staff in learning about conservation and improving conservation practices,” said Dale Alekel, King County Green Schools Program manager. Find success stories at

Briarwood Elementary School in the Issaquah School District and Renton Park Elementary School in the Renton School District were recognized this month as Level One King County Green Schools.

Level One is focused on waste reduction and recycling. In addition to setting up effective recycling programs and achieving a recycling rate of 40 percent or higher, Level One schools establish at least one paper reduction practice, one lunch waste reduction practice, and one practice involving durable products. Alekel said many participating schools cut garbage disposal costs by reducing waste and recycling.

Briarwood Elementary recycles 55 percent of its solid waste through a school-wide program that includes recycling in classrooms, offices, staff room, and lunchroom. In 2010, with help from the City of Issaquah, the school began to collect food scraps and food soiled paper that is delivered to Cedar Grove’s composting facility. The third grade Green Team was trained to help other students properly sort their lunch waste into recyclable materials, compostable materials, and garbage. Two fourth grade students created a PowerPoint presentation about lunchroom recycling that was shown school-wide to educate students and staff.  Along with other schools in its district, Briarwood uses durable trays for lunches.

Renton Park Elementary recycles 50 percent of its solid waste after initiating school-wide waste reduction and recycling practices, including milk carton recycling, setting out recycling containers at every school event, and replacing Styrofoam trays with durable, reusable trays. Green Team students, trained to oversee lunchroom recycling, show other students what materials can be recycled. Through the school’s Meaningful Jobs Program, students are hired to collect recyclable materials from classrooms twice each week during recess. These changes are supported by educational programs, including an assembly and classroom workshops provided by King County, a week-long curriculum on recycling and the human footprint led by the school’s librarian, and weekly announcements made by the school principal about recycling and global impact.

Chestnut Hill Academy and The Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle, two private schools in Bellevue, were recognized this month for their completion of Level Two, which includes energy conservation as well as building upon Level One waste reduction and recycling practices. The City of Bellevue, in partnership with King County, has provided on-site support, as well as recycling containers and signs, for both schools.

In 2011, Chestnut Hill Academy built upon its Level One successes by reducing paper use. The student Green Team helps monitor lunchroom recycling. Students use durable utensils, cups and plates in the cafeteria, and water is available for students to refill their water bottles. To conserve energy, announcements are made about turning off unnecessary lights and keeping doors closed. Parents receive reminders about dressing children appropriately for the weather. Heat is turned off in unused rooms and lights are controlled by motion sensors. Chestnut Hill partnered with Puget Sound Energy to install aerators on water faucets to conserve water and also to conserve the energy required to heat the water.

The Jewish Day School improved energy-efficient practices and education, while sustaining its effective waste reduction and recycling practices. Team Yerukim, the student environmental group, created energy-conservation signs for light switches, computers and copiers, and shares energy conservation tips during the school’s First Friday assemblies. Middle school students participated in an environmental summit focused on climate change, and their math and science curriculum includes energy conservation information and activities. The school recycles 55 percent of its solid waste, achieved through school-wide collection of recyclable and compostable materials and the use of durable trays and utensils in the lunchroom. Team Yerukim regularly encourages families to pack lunches in durable and recyclable containers. The school also has a comprehensive environmental purchasing policy.

The Green Schools Program provides assistance, recycling containers and stickers, and ongoing support to help schools and districts maintain effective conservation practices. Since 2008, when program levels were started, 121 schools have completed Level One, 62 schools have completed Level Two, and 25 schools have completed Level Three.

Schools and districts interested in improving their conservation practices and receiving assistance and recognition can contact Alekel at

Related information

King County Green Schools

King County Solid Waste