VBCPS - Charting the Course
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Sondra Woodward
Date: 05/12/20 Phone: 757.263.1797
News Release No. 027 Fax: 757.263.1010
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Email: sondra.woodward@vbschools.com

Virginia Beach schools recognized for environmental excellence

For the second year in a row, Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) has been designated a Virginia Environmental Excellence Program Sustainability Partner by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. VBCPS is the only school division in the state to earn this distinction.

"This approval is in recognition of the numerous significant environmental achievements the Virginia Beach City Public Schools have made to date, your previous participation as a Sustainability Partner, and the ambitious sustainability goals you have set for the future," wrote Meghann Quinn, manager of the office of pollution prevention, in the award letter to VBCPS. "Employees throughout your organization should be proud of this accomplishment."

Since 2005, VBCPS has been a recognized leader in sustainability. The division built Virginia's first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified public elementary school - the most widely-used green building rating system in the world, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2011, VBCPS became one of the first K-12 school divisions in the country to inventory its carbon footprint and put an emissions reduction plan into action. That plan calls for audits of older buildings to replace energy-efficient lighting and heating and air conditioning units. VBCPS School Board policy now calls for all division buildings to be constructed according to LEED standards.

As a result of these efforts, the division has reduced its energy use by 27% while increasing building square footage by 9%. To date, VBCPS has 10 LEED-certified buildings and three more in progress.

"We have made sustainability part of the culture at VBCPS," said division Superintendent Aaron Spence. "Through leadership and innovation, we strive to practice the very lessons we teach our students and to demonstrate our dedication to a robust community and a healthy planet."

Other sustainability initiatives include launching a building manager program that has placed trades experts in schools for daily maintenance, purchasing fleet vehicles that produce less pollution, and launching a scratch cooking program that reduces cafeteria food waste while encouraging healthy food choices.

In classrooms, students across all grade levels are also learning about sustainability and, most recently, VBCPS partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Brock Environmental Center to initiate an environmental studies program for high school students which is scheduled to debut this year.

All of these measures have earned VBCPS numerous state and national awards, including the 2019 Sustainable Development Honor Award for Old Donation School, the 2018 Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence, the Environmental Protection Agency's 2018 Energy Star Partner of the Year designation and a 2018 Design Achievement Award from the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design.

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Department of Media and Communications, vbcpsweb@vbschools.com

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