San Diego Unified will receive a big boost to its environmental leadership efforts, thanks to a new grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
The grant will allow San Diego Unified to expand upon its already substantial efforts to combat pollution and conserve electricity, which have produced marked results over the past few years.
This week, CARB announced a first-of-its-kind program to fund a variety of projects promoting zero-emission transportation options in schools, and named San Diego Unified as one of three districts selected for the new initiative.
The Clean Mobility in Schools Pilot Project is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment - particularly in disadvantaged communities.
For its proposal, the district was awarded $9.75 million in funds to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a school neighborhood with some of San Diego County's worst air quality.
As part of its Climate Action Plan, which was board-adopted in 2015, San Diego Unified has already made significant strides toward its goal of reducing its carbon footprint and achieving 100% clean electricity.
Through installation of solar power equipment, waste-reduction projects and energy efficiency upgrades, the district has reduced its equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by 7.54 percent from June 2015 to June 2019. Using the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) online Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies calculator, this amounts to a reduction of 5,963 tons of C02.
In the same timeframe, San Diego Unified has been able to considerably reduce its citywide energy usage as well, with a total non-transportation reduction of 10.2 percent. By 2019, onsite solar power was on pace to provide more than 17.3 percent of the district's total usage.
It was these accomplishments, along with numerous accolades the district has received for energy efficiency, recycling, and green construction efforts, that stood out when applying for the brand-new CARB grant.
'This grant will allow us to expand on our existing efforts to reduce emissions and improve air quality here in San Diego,' said Gene Robinson, Director of Transportation and Distribution at San Diego Unified. 'We're already proud of the fact that all of our diesel vehicles have particulate traps to reduce emissions, and we have been using renewable diesel for more than 2 years now.'
The district's Lincoln High School Clean Mobility in Schools Pilot Project will use grant funds to increase mobility, support adoption of clean transportation, and increase air quality in the Southeast San Diego community.
'This pilot project addresses the need to do more - beyond cleaning up school buses - to reduce exposure to harmful air pollution by children and others in and around schools,' CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey said. 'These projects will set up the schools to address climate change, reduce air pollution, and lead the next generation in learning about and using clean mobility options.'
Ten electric vehicle charging stations have already been rolled out at Lincoln High, and the pilot project is expected to bring a host of new improvements to the school as well.
'The goal is to increase the visibility of and access to zero-emission transportation options by placing commercially available zero-emissions technologies and supporting charging infrastructure in the school,' said Robinson.
Some of the project's key components include:
· Development of an all-electric food delivery program for Lincoln
· Robust public education effort to support behavior change for students, parents and staff
· Electric Bicycle Pilot Program for senior students and school staff
· Zero-emission landscaping and custodial equipment
· Battery storage units
· Electric passenger vehicles for car sharing and van pooling for school purposes
· School buses with managed charging and vehicle-to-grid electricity return
· Transportation system upgrades for efficient routing of buses and service vehicles
Funding for the projects in the three school districts will be delivered by CARB in the coming months once contracts are finalized and signed.
As defined by Senate Bill 535, each California Climate Investments project is located within a disadvantaged community where more people are exposed to harmful pollutants and suffer from greater economic and health burdens.
For more information, see: http://www.caclimateinvestments.ca.gov/lcti/2019/7/29/clean-mobility-in-schools