Zero Waste Marin

SEI partnered with Zero Waste Marin to help Marin County schools implement composting and recycling programs in order to comply with new mandatory state laws. Zero Waste Marin provides each school site with indoor and outdoor recycling and compost containers, custodial carts, stickers and signage, and Green Team incentives all at no charge to the school. Learn more about the Zero Waste Schools Program here.

Example School: Manor Elementary School

Green Team: Manor Elementary has been equipped with a Green Team for the last twenty years. The Green Team is separated into two groups; group of 60 third through fifth graders who rotate for lunchtime monitoring daily and a group of approximately 10 fourth and fifth grade students who meet for Green Team every Tuesday after school from 3-5pm. During initial Green Team meetings, ZWM trained students on proper sorting, the importance of practicing the 5R’s, and coming up with solutions to reduce waste at school and educate every student on its importance. The Green Team learned about how long it takes for different items (recyclable, compostable, and landfill) to decompose. Everyday the Green Team monitors sorting at lunch. With the help from ZWM, Green Team members conducted the initial and final waste audits and gave presentations in every classroom on the audit results, importance for waste diversion, and proper sorting. Every Wednesday at their “Wednesday Welcome” the Green Team announces a Green Team reminder of the week.

Classroom Presentations: Zero Waste lessons were taught in each classroom led by Green Team members and fourth grade students.  Every lesson reviewed the importance of waste reduction and its impacts. Students were taught which items go in each bin and the importance of sorting properly. The students were also taught how their individual actions by sorting properly can have a positive global impact, which empowered them to make a difference. Each student received ZWM pencils and stickers as part of the branding and marketing of the ZWMSP.

Staff & Teacher Training: ZWM and Green Team members conducted a training during a mandatory staff meeting. Staff learned about the Zero Waste Marin initiatives and the importance of waste diversion. Initial waste audit results were shared and there was a Q & A session regarding individual concerns and specifics to the waste stream at Manor. ZWM also spoke extensively with the custodian, Victor, to gain his input on the new waste systems and gain his input on school trends. 


Energize Schools

Energize Schools is a program of the nonprofit Strategic Energy Innovations. Energize Schools provides holistic services to help high school communities green their facilities, conserve resources, and engage students in service-learning and environmental leadership across California. Learn more about the Energize Schools program here.

Example Projects:

Solar Certificate at John Muir Charter Schools

Energize Schools is working with John Muir Charter Schools statewide to implement the Solar Certificate. John Muir Charter Schools provide work-based continuation high school programs for students with barriers to employment and educational attainment, primarily through YouthBuild and Conservation Corps programs. In February 2017, SEI facilitated a teacher training for teachers leading the Solar Certificate at their sites. At the training, teachers gained experience in using watt meters to measure appliance power use and mini solar panels to examine the impact of tilt and orientation on solar production.

John Muir Charter Schools currently implementing the SEI Solar Certificate:

  • Century Center for Economic Opportunity YouthBuild
  • Cloud and Fire YouthBuild
  • Venice YouthBuild
  • Chico YouthBuild
  • Operation New Hope WIOA Program
  • Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps
  • San Francisco Local Conservation Corps

“The SEI Solar Certificate provides excellent guidance for preparing students for careers in the solar industry. The background content provides enough information to make me an expert in energy and sustainability concepts. The activities and projects are engaging for my students and support them in building technical skills they can apply to the energy industry.”

Tim Mendelsohn, Solar Certificate Instructor at CCEO Youth Build

Zero Net Energy School Design at Terra Linda High School

At Terra Linda High School, Energize Schools implemented a 5-week Zero Net Energy Home Design project using SEI’s Zero Net Energy Certificate. 31 students in a 9th grade Geography class learned how to design a Zero Net Energy building. In small groups, students analyzed their own homes and wrote a proposal on how to design energy conservation projects, implement energy efficient upgrades, and size a solar photovoltaic system to create enough energy to meet remaining demand. A guest scientist from Lawrence Berkeley laboratory specializing in home energy efficiency joined Energize Schools staff to visit the classroom and provide feedback to students on their proposed homes. Students then built model representations of their proposed Zero Net Energy home and presented these models at a local architecture firm for a Business Leaders’ networking event.