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New Sustainability Office to Build on LCPS’ Commitment to Conservation

Loudoun County Public Schools has created a Sustainability Office within the Support Services Department to showcase and amplify LCPS’ commitment to environmental sustainability. 

Clark Seipt, who came on board as the division’s first Director of Sustainability in December 2023, outlined some of the goals and strategies of this new office. She explained that energy efficiency is built into LCPS’ facility construction standards and applied to the maintenance and upgrade of facilities. These efforts save LCPS money by avoiding utility and operational expenses, allowing funds to instead be utilized on student learning and educator support. However, she added, implementing energy efficiency is about more than just cost savings. It’s about a desire to model critical thinking and problem-solving to LCPS students.

LCPS’ Chief Operations Officer Kevin Lewis explained that LCPS has a long history of innovative and sustained excellence in energy conservation and efficiency. “LCPS is dedicated to responsible energy use and effective stewardship of resources. This new office – our Sustainability Office – will enhance LCPS’ award-winning conservation efforts and work with other departments, outside agencies, schools and students to strategically develop and expand these efforts. Through this office we will grow enthusiasm toward and participation in LCPS’ energy and sustainability efforts.”

The primary task of the Sustainability Office will be to create a sustainability master plan to develop and promote strategic energy and sustainability initiatives throughout LCPS and to generate excitement about sustainability efforts. Seipt envisions the process of creating a sustainability master plan to be a collaborative one that will engage a diverse mix of LCPS stakeholders, including students, their families, educators and staff. The office is currently liaising with other LCPS offices and departments, including Facilities Operations, Nutrition, Transportation, and Teaching and Learning on sustainability-related activities that are already happening in the division to raise awareness about the new office and its goals.

For example, Seipt is working with LCPS’ Nutrition Office to bring awareness and develop strategies to address food waste in LCPS. Nationwide, approximately 30% of all food produced in the U.S. is discarded or thrown away. Some LCPS schools are educating students about this issue and creating food recovery strategies to help reduce the amount of food that is discarded. Highlighting this activity will make sustainability goals more tangible to students and will inform students about environmentally conscious choices they can make every day. “We not only want to provide food that is nutritious but we also want to use the cafeteria as a classroom so students understand where our food comes from, why nutrition is important and how we can think smartly about the waste that is generated in our food systems.”

Seipt is also making plans to highlight LCPS’ electric bus pilot program. “We currently own and operate electric school buses from all of the major manufacturers. We are trying to determine which is best for LCPS and determine what electrification means for our fleet.”

In addition to highlighting these and other sustainability programs and initiatives, Seipt said the Sustainability Office, with support from other LCPS departments, is focusing on student environmental literacy, which she said is a growing area of importance. “We want to plan strategically so that every LCPS student has a baseline environmental literacy understanding. We want to ensure that LCPS students are prepared as critical thinkers and problem-solvers about environmental issues.”

Published April 17, 2024