Following an extensive multiyear effort across the Harker community, The Harker School has now been recognized by as a Certified Green Business by the Bay Area Green Business Program. In addition to being a major sustainability goal, fulfilling the requirements for certification also is expected to reduce costs in a variety of ways.
“Aside from the primary goals of being a more environmentally sustainable institution and meeting Harker’s standard of modeling and teaching sustainability through our actions, CGB provides a report card,” said Jeff Sutton, Harker science teacher and a member of Harker’s Green Committee. “This report card provides positive feedback as to how much savings, both fiscal and in the reduction of our impact on the environment, the actions are generating. These numbers are estimates but still provide encouragement for continuance in the program.”
The effort to become a Certified Green Business began in late 2012, when the newly formed Green Committee was searching for a way to advance Harker’s sustainability goals. “[Harker head of school] Chris Nikoloff began the search for a tool to implement to gain better understanding of sustainability at Harker, including knowing what Harker was doing to be stewards of resources and looking for ways to improve the overall sustainability of the operation of the school,” Sutton said. “The CGB application provided an excellent framework because it was so comprehensive and very objective in the tasks needed to achieve CGB status.”
Preparation for the application process began in 2013 and lasted through the year. Applications for all four of Harker’s campuses were submitted in May 2014, and inspectors from Santa Clara County visited in June and noted what needed to be done to qualify for the certification.
The schoolwide effort to become certified lasted for the next two years, with key projects and initiatives occurring on all campuses. Shipping/receiving manager Bob Benge and business manager Clif Wilcox devised a more sustainable policy for school purchases. Stephen Martin, executive director of food services, worked with the Harker kitchen staff to acquire food products that had been sustainably produced, in addition to using more environmentally friendly paper products and discontinuing the use of polystyrene. Thanks to transportation supervisor Heather Armada, all of Harker’s vehicles now use recycled oil. Other projects included spearheading the use of Energy Star-rated electronics, using recycled paper for photocopying, examining the use of LED lighting and much more.
Harker’s Green Business certification is up for renewal in three years, and Sutton is confident that the school will maintain its dedication to sustainability. “As an institution of education, it is awesome to see Harker modeling ways to improve its sustainability in its relationship with the environment,” he said.