Emile Lauzzana

As the year comes to a close, I’m reflecting on how pleased Detroit Public Schools is to receive one of this year’s School District Scholarships from the Center for Green Schools. We are in the fourth year of administering our districtwide sustainability program, the DPS Go Green Challenge (GGC). The opportunities presented by this scholarship will allow the district to provide professional development for its staff and overall technical assistance to the Office of Energy and Sustainability as we continue to improve the program. 

Each school year, hundreds of teachers and thousands of students participate in the GGC. The program has three primary goals: boost student achievement, positively impact the community and reduce operating costs. Each of the 60 participating schools form a Green Team and compete against their peers by completing STEM-focused, project-based learning activities to earn GGC points. There are 30 points available in the areas of recycling, energy and water conservation, gardening and nutrition and innovation. 

Last year, Green Teams completed more than 900 GGC projects—an 85 percent increase over the previous school year. These projects covered a wide range of activities, such as patrolling schools for energy and water waste, completing standards-aligned sustainability lesson plans, participating in the Rainbow Plates healthy eating competition, hosting parent recycling and energy saving workshops, and many more. 

During the three-month energy saving competition, DPS Go Green schools saved $253,015. Approximately 50 percent of our schools participate in the program, and the DPS Go Green schools reduced electricity usage by 3.9 percent during the competition, while non-Go Green schools increased electricity usage by 2.3 percent during the same period. 

We have made some great strides at DPS in making our schools more sustainable, but we know we have much more to do. The opportunities provided by this scholarship will help us take Going Green at DPS to the next level!