Education

Kitayama becomes first school to join green business program

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An elementary school in Union City has gone green. Kitayama Elementary is the first school in the county to be a member of the California Green Business Program.

Kitayama is known for its beautiful blue tiles imported from Japan. The school is also the first to go green -- the only public school in Alameda County to be certified.

"We had two goals in mind as a district. One was to implement some environmentally sustainable practices and in turn try to lower our operating expenses," said Frank Camarda with the New Haven Unified School District.

A picture shows all of the solar panels on the roof installed nearly three years ago. The money came from Measure A, aimed at improving local facilities in the district. It passed in 2003.

Before the solar panels went in, the school's electric bill was $54,000 a year. It's now 10,000.

The school also receives rebates from PG&E for having the solar panels, and for using energy efficient lighting in the classrooms.

In order to be considered a California green business, the school had to meet other requirements like having low flow toilets and faucets. Instead of using paper towels, the kids use hand dryers. All other paper goods are green certified.

"We need to help the earth and we'll make the earth live longer. We'll have a happier life, we'll not really be sick," said Jaden Paler, a 4th grader.

Students use only cardboard trays in the cafeteria, 80 percent of the garbage is diverted to an outside facility for recycling or composting.

"It helps the environment and garbage is sometimes everywhere, so kids try to help out to put it in the recycling and separate stuff, and it's much more easier for the environment," said Lauren Spencer, a 5th grader.

The school decided to go one step further. All the plants are drought resistant which require little water.

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union city, energy, education, lyanne melendez
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