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Board Approves Clean Energy Resolution
On December 3rd, 2019 the Los Angeles Board of Education approved a resolution sponsored by Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson, Board Vice President Jackie Goldberg and Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna that commits Los Angeles Unified to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2040. The School Board also calls on city, state, and federal officials and government agencies to work alongside Los Angeles Unified in taking rapid and effective action on climate change to protect current and future students, families, and communities.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of 2018, the Fourth National Climate Assessment, local and international climate scientists, and the City of Los Angeles have declared a climate crisis, calling for a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels by 2030, and net zero carbon by 2050, in order to mitigate the most catastrophic effects of global warming and climate change.
“Los Angeles Unified is the largest school district in the country with an elected Board,” Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson said. “We are committed to preparing our students to be college and career ready. But our children are telling us that all the preparation in the world will be meaningless if we are unable and unwilling to transform our energy systems to avoid the frightening reality that we are rapidly, and perhaps irreversibly, destroying the health of the planet that they will inherit.”
“With every new wild fire, flood, and snow storm, the urgency of the climate crisis is becoming more apparent to all of us,” Board Vice President Jackie Goldberg said. “It is now time for bold action, and we have to do it for the sake of our children, grandchildren, and all Los Angeles Unified students.”
“Transitioning to 100 percent clean, renewable energy is a courageous endeavor; it is an aspiration, but we have to put it out there as something that we aspire to do as a policy and not as a discussion item,” Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III said. “We will convene a task force of diverse voices to examine the feasibility, assess costs, gaps, and opportunities for the District to achieve this bold goal.”
“I want to recognize all of the students and parents who have taken a stand to better the world we live in by advocating for better environmental policies and we as adults need to be active partners in that effort,” Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic said. “As the second-largest District in the United Sates, we strive to be the greenest District and lead the way for other organizations to do the same.”
YOU CAN FIND THE FINAL LANGUAGE OF THE RESOLUTION BELOW ON THIS PAGE
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Community Support from Climate Reality Project
We were so proud to work with the Climate Reality Project on this resolution. This is their story about your victory!
LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT COMMITS TO 100 PERCENT CLEAN, RENEWABLE ENERGY
Los Angeles, CA – On December 3, 2019, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board signed a resolution committing the school district’s transition to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity by 2030, and all other energy usages, including boilers, HVAC, and transportation by 2040.
Mobilized to act by a team of climate leaders from The Climate Reality Project: Los Angeles Area, CA chapter, the Board began considering the benefits of transitioning the country’s second largest school district to 100 clean, renewable energy in June of this year. With help from LA City Councilmember Paul Krekorian and co-sponsored by LAUSD Board Members Scott Schmerelson, Jackie Goldberg, and Dr. George McKenna III, the resolution was introduced at the November 5, 2019 board meeting, and voted on at an open public board meeting on December 3, 2019.
Inspired by the recent Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Los Angeles in August 2018, and the 100% Committed campaign, members of the Los Angeles Area chapter of Climate Reality decided to mobilize their efforts towards the transition of LAUSD to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. Today’s announcement is the culmination of a monumental undertaking, including countless phone calls, emails, blog posts, public outreach, school presentations, and meetings with board members.
The resolution has been endorsed by hundreds of LAUSD students, teachers, parents, and administrators, in addition to many environmental activist and justice groups, including Sierra Club Climate Parents, Pacoima Beautiful, and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA).
“As long and as hard as the work has been, it has been even more rewarding. Given the realities of the crisis we face and how critical it is that everyone get on board, virtually everywhere we turned, we met with enthusiastic support and a willingness to assist in pushing this forward,” says Los Angeles Area, CA Chapter Co-Chair Michael Zelniker and 100% Committed Co-Lead Sybil Azur. “We are profoundly grateful to the many LAUSD students, teachers, parents and activists who are members of our very large and committed coalition.”
LAUSD is the second largest school district in the country with more than 625,000 students enrolled in more than 1,100 schools with more than 26,000 teachers. The district’s schools and facilities make it one of the largest consumers of electricity in Los Angeles. Transitioning LAUSD to a 100 percent clean, renewable energy profile will decrease the district's greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons.
As LAUSD students face increased numbers of school closures and absences as a result of wildfires and asthma and other respiratory and medical issues, caused by greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis, the prospect of LAUSD contributing to a healthier, more sustainable future by transitioning away from dirty fossil fuels and into clean, renewable energy will inspire and empower our children in ways that are beyond measure.
The chapter’s efforts were led by Michael Zelniker, Sybil Azur, Blossom Shores, Mabel Wong, Kathy Schaeffer, Lois Keller, Kristin Engle, and Kori Malia. We thank The Climate Reality Project: Los Angeles Area, CA Chapter for their dedication to this fight.
Revised Version with Accepted Amendments from Board Member Gonez (author’s revisions in blue).
Whereas, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC Report) of 2018, the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), climate scientists from around the world, and the City of Los Angeles have all declared a climate crisis requiring a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels by 2030, and net zero carbon by 2050, in order to mitigate the most catastrophic consequences of global warming and climate change;
Whereas, K-12 schools in the United States have an important role to play in reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, given that they are major energy consumers, using as much energy as 43 percent of all office space nationwide;
Whereas, Los Angeles Unified School District schools contribute to climate change from their on-site energy needs, primarily by sourcing energy from fossil fuels that are used for electricity, heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), cooking, and transportation;
Whereas, Clean, renewable energy includes energy derived from wind, solar, geothermal, and wave technology and excludes energy derived from fossil fuels, nuclear fission, and large-scale hydroelectric developments;
Whereas, School districts, cities, and states around the country are making commitments to run on 100 percent clean, renewable energy to improve public health and to help combat climate change;
Whereas, Reductions in emissions from dirty energy sources result in tangible improvements in student health and performance, particularly among our youngest and most vulnerable children;
Whereas, According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), energy-related expenses are only second to personnel as the largest expenditure in school district budgets, and savings from energy costs can be redirected into classrooms and student learning;
Whereas, The District is dedicated to supporting programs and strategies which aim to make schools climate-aware and safe, such as energy-efficient living laboratories that teach children to understand STEM concepts through clean, renewable energy applications;
Whereas, The District is committed to principles of equity, justice, and inclusion, and transitioning to 100 percent clean, renewable energy can help advance these goals by (a) saving general fund dollars that can be invested in under-resourced schools, (b) helping to address the climate crisis, which disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color, and (c) creating STEM and vocational learning opportunities geared toward training and preparing students, especially in underserved, frontline communities, for the impending green jobs economy;
Whereas, A school district that operates on 100 percent clean, renewable energy either procures all of its energy from external providers which derive that energy from clean, renewable sources, generates its own on-site clean, renewable energy in an amount equal to the amount of energy the district draws from the power grid, or pursues some combination of both procurement and generation of clean, renewable energy to meet all of its energy needs;
Whereas, The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), under the direction of the Los Angeles City Council and the Mayor, is aggressively pursuing a 100 percent renewable energy portfolio by 2045, which will require increasing local, in-basin solar generation that the District would be able to help provide;
Whereas, The City of Los Angeles has already begun this transition by phasing out natural gas operations at three power plants and committing to invest nearly $1 billion in renewable energy over the next five years;
Whereas, LADWP’s Feed in Tariff (FiT) program would allow the District to partner with solar developers to sell solar-generated power to LADWP and receive compensation in consideration of the District providing the solar developer with the rooftop, parking lot, or other available space for the solar developer’s installation;
Whereas, Due to the success of the FiT program, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners recently approved its expansion by an additional 300 megawatts, and further expansions of the FiT program are planned in order to meet the City’s goal of increasing local solar generation to 1,950 megawatts by 2050;
Whereas, The District receives approximately 20 percent of its energy load from Southern California Edison, which, through the Clean Power Alliance, offers customers within its service area the option to procure up to 100 percent clean, renewable energy;
Whereas, The District has already set a goal of reducing energy consumption 20 percent by 2024 and has implemented a number of energy-saving measures, including the Lighting Retrofit Program at 100 schools, the direct install program with LADWP at 12 schools, Prop 39 energy efficiency upgrade projects at 21 schools, and the District is participating in the U.S. Department of Energy/LA Better Buildings Challenges as well as the Zero Energy Schools Accelerator;
Whereas, Cumulatively, these energy-saving measures result in annual cost savings of $3.7 million to the District, with many more energy-efficiency projects in the pipeline;
Whereas, In 2008, the District began a solar installation program ultimately yielding 21 megawatts of energy annually through solar installations at 59 campuses and 5 administrative sites, making up approximately 5 percent of the District’s total power load, and as of 2016, the District was receiving $6 million in annual savings from these existing solar installations with the potential to increase its solar profile significantly, given the large amount of rooftop and parking lot space available; and
Whereas, There are several low or no-cost options that the District can explore to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy which can be pursued in conjunction with one another, including, but not limited to, LADWP’s Feed in Tariff (FiT) program, Southern California Edison’s Clean Power Alliance option, Southern California Edison’s Community Choice Aggregator option, Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), energy-saving measures, and future utility incentive programs such as Direct Access and FiT Plus; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District hereby commits to the goals of achieving 100 percent clean, renewable energy in its electricity sector by 2030 and in all energy sectors, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), cooking, and transportation, by 2040 working in partnership alignment collaboration with the LADWP’s Sustainable City pLAn;
Resolved further, That the Board directs the Facilities Services Division to assemble and oversee a task force no later than January 31, 2020, which will develop an implementation plan to meet these goals as well as reducing the District’s current level of waste production and increasing the impact of sustainability initiatives, and that the task force shall include District personnel, students, parents, our labor partners, energy providers, renewable energy experts, and clean energy advocates, including but not limited to, representatives from the
Transportation Services Division, LADWP, Southern California Edison, the Clean Power Alliance, and 100% Green Schools LA;
Resolved further, That the District’s 100 percent clean, renewable energy implementation plan shall include options that the District can pursue to achieve its clean, renewable energy goals and those options shall consider a combination of energy-saving measures, investments in on-site generation and storage through the FiT/FiT Plus programs and/or PPAs, as well as procurement through the Clean Power Alliance and other programs currently in development such as Direct Access;
Resolved further, That the plan shall include a cost-benefit analysis for each option along with an overview of associated financing options, aimed at minimizing costs and maximizing long-term benefits to the District;
Resolved further, That the plan shall also include measures that enhance equity (e.g., prioritizing infrastructure investments and employment opportunities in frontline and underserved communities) in our schools and provide student learning opportunities in STEM, leverage the Division of Adult and Career Education’s career pathways and apprenticeship programs, sustainability, and the green jobs economy;
Resolved further, That the proposal shall include a cost/benefit analysis of the transition to and use of digital textbooks and alternatives to single-use consumable instructional materials, as well as recommendations for integrating climate science into professional development opportunities for teachers.
Resolved further, That the District establish an innovation fund for students, with partnership from LADWP, the philanthropic community and outside partners, that would allow for District students to cultivate solutions to the climate crisis and for these innovations to be funded so they can be brought to fruition.
Resolved further, That the task force hold stakeholder meetings once every four months with District teachers, parents, students, and staff in order to generate feedback;
Resolved further, That the task force report to the Board with updates on the development of the implementation plan once every four months until the completed implementation plan is presented to the Board for adoption no later than January 31, 2021; and, be it finally
Resolved, That the Board calls on city, state, and federal officials and agencies to work alongside the District in taking swift, effective action on climate change to protect current and future students, their families, and the communities in which they live.