Ecological reforms, new practices save energy, cash at Oregon school
Published: January 4, 2010
PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- An Oregon Catholic school is turning its century-old campus into a lean, green sustainability machine. At Holy Redeemer on Portland's north side, students joined volunteers and teachers in a project to dig up 2,500 square feet of old playground pavement. That exhausting effort will allow rainwater to soak into the ground and nourish newly planted native vegetation, as opposed to washing blacktop-borne pollutants into streams and the nearby Columbia River. Another newly uncovered area will be a 7,500-square-foot community garden. Pavement-busting is just one of dozens of efforts at ecological reform at the 100-year-old school, which serves a racially diverse neighborhood. "We're doing what we can to bring the school into the 21st century," said John Baggenstos, facilities manager at Holy Redeemer for the past two years. "Of course, there isn't much money. You're either rich or creative, I guess." Baggenstos and a committee of teachers and parents are continuing a drive for ecological advances that began with construction of a new classroom building in 2005. Pope John Paul II Hall, which includes a library and science lab, was the first K-8 Catholic school building in the nation to win certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Across campus in the lunchroom, an effort to reduce waste caught students' attention starting last year. After training and a set of incentives -- free dress passes and some sweet treats -- the youngsters took only a week to cut noontime trash from seven cans per day to one. Now it's a habit.
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