District 87's sustainability efforts are getting national attention.
The U.S. Department of Education has named the Bloomington-based school system a green ribbon school district for its efforts to improve energy efficiency, reduce waste and increase the health and fitness of students and staff.
“This award is a reflection of many across the district who are dedicated to helping our students and community understand the importance of taking care of the environment around us,” said Superintendent Barry Reilly.
Chief Financial and Facilities Officer Colin Manahan said much of the district's schools had to be modernized in recent years—and that presented the opportunity to think green.
“It’s a blend of doing what’s right and the stars seemed to have aligned when we look at the work we need to do because we had aging equipment, aging HVAC controls, etc.,” Manahan said.
Manahan added the district laid the groundwork 20 years ago, back at a time when many of its schools lacked air conditioning.
“Twenty years ago and it’s about when I came on board, we started a comprehensive facilities management program to upgrade our facilities,” Manahan said. “One could argue we hadn’t done much prior to that in quite a while, and we’ve done a substantial amount of work from the early 2000s to today.”
The district has cut its electric and gas use since 2015, saving more than $500,000 annually, while heating and cooling upgrades at four of its buildings have saved the district about $155,000 per year.
The award also honors the district for its health initiative at each of its schools, including morning yoga, a Heart Start program where students get walking and running around the gym before school and weekend fitness activities for students, staff and families.
District 87 is among 53 awardees nationwide that will be honored at a ceremony Sept. 25 in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Department of Commerce and on Capitol Hill.
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