Santa Fe Schools save thousands by going green

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – From solar panels to LED lights and concrete floors, Santa Fe Public Schools have been rolling out a slew of changes to make their schools more environmentally friendly and cost-efficient.

“We have seen tremendous savings in utility costs, water, electricity, gas,” said  Veronica Garcia, Superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools.

It all started in 2010, after the economy crashed.

“We looked at where we were spending our money, and we said, we’re spending an awful lot on utilities,” said Lisa Randall.

Randall is the Energy and Water Conservation coordinator for the district.

“Our initiatives are really from roof to floor, inside and outside,” she said.

Sixteen percent of the district runs on solar energy, and 90 percent of thermostats are controlled remotely and shut off during off-hours, like vacations and on weekends. In one school, there’s a screen that even monitors conservation efforts, like the use of solar power and water.

“Those polished concrete floors, that’s one of our new standards, so we don’t have to use harsh chemicals to clean or strip or polish, we just buff it and it looks great,” said Randall.

She says they are constantly looking at materials they can use that cater to sustainability, like the windows in many of the schools that are designed to maximize solar gain.

The turf fields were put in to save water, and the district has reduced waste to the landfill by 30 percent.

“We pick up food waste from 50 percent of our schools, that is turned into compost, which in turn we put in our school gardens,” said Randall.

In all, it’s saving the district $400,000 a year, getting pumped right back into the schools, for everything from supplies to teacher salaries

“That’s a wonderful way to say to our students we care about you, we care about your future we care about the planet,” said Randall.

They hope to make all schools in the district green, to help cut even more costs in years to come. The work is being done gradually using bond money.


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