August 30, 2012
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on What’s GREENevada up to this year?

What’s GREENevada up to this year?

Welcome back to school, northern Nevada!

Just a quick update on what GREENevada is up to for the 2012-2013 school year. After two years of amazing competitions amongst northern Nevada’s high schools (and a whole lotta cash given away to green your schools!), we’re taking a break from a contest this year. Continue Reading →


August 28, 2012
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on $17,000 Awarded to Northern Nevada’s Greenest High Schoolers

$17,000 Awarded to Northern Nevada’s Greenest High Schoolers

Better late than never! Here’s a recap of the GREENevada Student Sustainability Summit on Earth Day 2012.


Earth Day weekend was an exciting time for students from 11 Northern Nevada high schools, who took home a combined $17,000 in prize money for their sustainability efforts.

The GREENevada Student Sustainability Summit, now in its second year, took place last Friday. Once again, student teams presented wide-reaching proposals to improve sustainability practices on their campuses.

The Hug High School team took home $5,000 for their energy efficiency plan.

The winning team, from Hug High School, spent months doing an energy audit, interviewing faculty and staff, and calculating potential savings from changed practices. In the course of the students’ audit, they stumbled upon a surprising source of wasted energy: Classroom lights at Hug were being left on for several hours after teachers and students had gone. Meeting with the custodial staff, they discovered that the lights were being used as a record-keeping system to mark which rooms had been cleaned. The audit also revealed that teachers and staff were leaving computers and appliances turned on all day and night, instead of shutting them off.

Simply by working with the staff to design a new system, Hug team members found they could save the school over $11,000 per year in electricity costs. By adding energy-saving power strips, motion sensing lights and an education program for faculty and staff, the Hug team projected a $15,500 annual savings for a cost of under $6,000.

Student proposals ranged from on-campus organic gardens to improved recycling efforts, with runner-up Reed High taking home $3,500 with their plan to eliminate single-use water bottles on campus. Each team received prize money to make their plans a reality.

TMCC High School students dressed themselves in garbage to highlight their campus litter problems.

“You’re the leaders, and we’re really glad you’re here,” Marnee Benson, Deputy Director of Black Rock Solar and MC of the event, told the students. “You’re going to help the world solve some of its biggest environmental problems.” Nevada assemblyman David Bobzien also addressed the students, calling their work “remarkable” and congratulating them for being at the forefront of STEM education in Nevada.

“The kids here are great,” said Erich Smitt, Sims Recycling Solutions Regional Sales Executive and judge for the event. “They did a lot of research, a lot of work on these projects. Obviously their biggest challenge is going to be getting the word out to the rest of the students.”

“We put a lot of time and effort into our work,” said Bishop Manogue environmental advisor Branson Barr. “But we’re also trying to bring more students into the fold. There are so many other clubs at Bishop Manogue… environmental issues tend to get overlooked.”

Indeed, the Student Sustainability Summit represents a chance for environmentally-motivated students to meet their peers, talk with local leaders and learn more about how they can continue working for sustainable change.

Sonya Hem Giroux, Operations Director of the Nevada Land Conservancy, joined the panel of expert judges.

Sarah Sciarani Polito, Public Affairs representative from Waste Management, spoke to the students about the single-stream recycling service available to every school in the district. She was surprised to learn that many schools are not fully aware of how to use the service effectively. “Some [conservation] comes from an operations standpoint … but it really comes down to the students,” said Charlie Hoppe, Director of Facilities Management for the Washoe County School District. Tellingly, nearly every student proposal involved an education campaign to make the student body aware of how their actions affect the environment and their schools’ bottom line.

Thanks to a conflict with a swim meet, Sage Ridge School was only able to send one team member. He represented his team with a great presentation.

“Being part of the Environmental Club has really affected my view on the environment,” said Sergio Galvan, Wooster High student. “Now I realize that it’s a lot more serious than I thought it was.” Wooster’s plan to reduce waste by improving the school’s recycling bin system took them dumpster diving to find out what was being thrown away.

Each student team was accompanied by a teacher advisor who helped students form their goals, put together actionable proposals and calculate realistic budget requirements. “Our club formed through the efforts of our two advisors collaborating to bring us together,” said Spanish Springs student Roman Hartze. The teachers brought their students to GREENevada’s initial training conference to get them started. “That really inspired us to take action,” Hartze said. “From there, it was just a matter of recruiting members.” Spanish Springs came up with a plan to xeriscape their school with native, drought-resistant plants.

GREENevada is a coalition of Nevada nonprofits committed to bringing sustainability awareness into the school system, including the Alliance for Climate Education, Black Rock Solar, Envirolution, GreenPower, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, Sierra Nevada Journeys, and Urban Roots Garden Classrooms. Throughout the year, these organizations reach out to local schools, offering educational and sustainable opportunities for students and staff. The Student Sustainability Summit is the culmination of all these efforts, and a collaborative effort between the organizations.

GREENevada leaders, clockwise from top: David Gibson of Envirolution; Morgan Tiar of Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful; Rebecca Anderson of ACE; Josie Luciano of Urban Roots; Joanna Furgiuele of Sierra Nevada Journeys; Marnee Benson of Black Rock Solar.

The Summit also owes its success to its sponsors, which provide the prize money. Black Rock Solar contributed $10,000 for this event; Waste Management donated $5,000. Peppermill Resort Casino and Sims Recycling Solutions each offered $1,000. Waste Management, Peppermill and Sims Recycling also each sent a judge to help pick the winning team.

The judging panel was comprised of local leaders in many fields:

  • Dave Aiazzi, Reno City Council Member
  • Katy Chandler-Isackson, Co-founder, Be The Change Project
  • Bruce Deetken, CEM, CBCP, Mechanical Designer, Sustainable Energy Solutions
  • Sonya Hem Giroux, Operations Director, Nevada Land Conservancy
  • Charlie Hoppe, WCSD Director of Facilities Management
  • Jen Huntley, Environmental Historian and greenUP! Director
  • Dean Parker, Peppermill Executive Facilities Director
  • John Sagebiel PhD, UNR Environmental Affairs Manager
  • Erich Schmitt, Regional Sales Executive, Sims Recycling Solutions
  • Sarah Sciarani Polito, Public Affairs, Waste Management
  • Matthew Tuma, Regional Representative for Senator Harry Reid

GREENevada is proud of all the participating schools. Here are the official results and winnings for the 2012 Student Sustainability Summit:

WINNER – $5,000
Hug High School

RUNNER-UP – $3,500
Reed High School

Davidson Academy

Sage Ridge School
TMCC High School
Wooster High School

Rainshadow Community Charter High School
Sparks High School

Bishop Manogue Catholic High School
North Valleys High School
Pyramid Lake Jr/Sr High School
Spanish Springs High School


January 6, 2012
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on 2012 Student Sustainability Summit!

2012 Student Sustainability Summit!

We are very excited to announce that GREENevada will host a Student Sustainability Summit in April 2012. All northern Nevada high schools are invited to participate. Students will perform live presentations in front of a panel of distinguished judges, as well as friends, family, and members of the community. Student groups will be required to participate in a community project or clean-up day prior to the summit to exemplify commitment to the community and to environmental stewardship.


GREENevada is a coalition of seven non-profit organizations:
• Alliance for Climate Education
• Black Rock Solar
• Envirolution
• GreenPower
• Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful
• Sierra Nevada Journeys
• Urban Roots Garden Classroom

We believe that every school can be green and every child can learn global responsibility through local example. Together, we can transform the way students learn.

More information on the competition and summit will be announced shortly!



May 23, 2011
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on Article from Jessica Reeder at Black Rock Solar

Article from Jessica Reeder at Black Rock Solar

GREENevada Awards $28,000 to Local High Schools for Sustainability Improvements

May 3rd, 2011 | Published in News

by Jessica Reeder

Reed High Eco Warriors won first place and $12,000 to make their sustainability dreams for their school a reality.

On Earth Day 2011, Washoe County high school students shared their biggest green ideas and won thousands of dollars to help make those ideas become reality. The GREENevada Sustainability Plan competition was funded in part by a $50,000 grant from Pepsi REFRESH. Last week $28,000 was awarded to nine participating Washoe County high schools whose student teams came up with their own plans to make their schools more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Each team submitted a written proposal and budget, and made a visual presentation in front of a panel of expert judges.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval congratulated all the schools for participating in this competition.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval stopped by to praise students for their hard work. “As the governor, renewable energy is very important to me. We just signed a contract to have every state building studied for the possibility of installing solar, so I think that’s a great opportunity for the state… I want to congratulate all the schools that have been involved in this competition. What you’re doing, I think that it’s very important. What you’re offering is something that becomes a part of the culture in the state of Nevada.”

The Grand Prize winner was Reed High School. Reed students plan to upgrade the school’s bathrooms, cutting back on wasted water and energy, and potentially saving their school thousands in utility bills. They walked away with $12,000 to make it happen.

Reed high school students were all smiles on Earth Day 2011.

“We put in everything. We dedicated all our time to it. We really worked,” said Reed High senior Hector Tinajero. The whole school supported the “Eco Warriors” in their campaign for change. “We have morning announcements,” Tinajero said. “Everybody loves the little jokes and stuff. They’re really for it.” The club’s membership rose, even as students worked through their lunch periods, after school and on Saturday mornings. Tinajero said his team was deeply inspired by a presentation from the Alliance for Climate Education, and that they owed their success to advisors Leigh Metcalfe and Genevieve Morehouse.

Rainshadow Community School presented a winning plan that included planting fruit trees on school property.

Reed wasn’t the only school with big ideas. Rainshadow Community Charter School won second place with their plan to install fruit trees, a rooftop greenhouse and an aquaponic pond on school grounds. Rainshadow students plan to reopen their campus pizza parlor, which sells handmade pizza made with local and organic ingredients. They won $7,000 to get their dream of a self-sufficient campus off the ground. Most of the Rainshadow team are graduating seniors, but the project will continue under the leadership of advisor Joe Ferguson.

Hug High students won third place. They propose recycling the plastics at their school lunch.

Hug High School took third place. Hug students calculated that their cafeteria hands out 600 Styrofoam cups every day, or 720 lbs. of Styrofoam each year. Styrofoam may contain hormone disrupters that can harm young people’s health, and it does not degrade in landfills. However, switching to an eco-friendly alternative would be too costly, and Hug’s cafeteria doesn’t have the capacity to wash reusable cups. While ditching Styrofoam may not yet be possible for Hug High, the team plans to use its $3,000 prize to encourage awareness, increase recycling and reduce the school’s garbage output by 25 percent.

Fourth place was an even tie between:

§ The Academy for Arts, Careers and Technology (AACT)

§ Sage Ridge

§ The Davidson Academy

§ McQueen High School

§ Sparks High School

§ Wooster High School.

Sparks High students developed a presentation on recycling that they can use with middle school and elementary students.

Each team won $1,000 for their creative and ambitious projects, which ranged from pedal-powered computer charging stations to student-run composting programs and implementing a school-wide value pillar for environmental stewardship. Sparks High even came up with a presentation on recycling, which they can perform at middle and elementary schools to help spread awareness.

Sage Ridge high students have built a garden that 4th and 5th graders can use.

Sage Ridge’s environmental campaign first gained momentum last year, when students formed an Environmental Policy class and mapped out goals and objectives to green their campus. This small school with less than 400 students managed to install a workable garden, get 5th and 6th graders to run recycling and composting programs, convince staff to clean lunch tables with vinegar instead of chemicals, and reduce the school’s carbon footprint by 7 tons of CO2 in the past year.

McQueen High developed the slogan “Go Green for McQueen” to develop environmental awareness. Their program director even dyed his beard in support of the group.

McQueen’s Environmental Coalition is working hard to get students to “Go Green for McQueen.” They make and sell T-shirts and bracelets to help raise awareness, and it works. “The first year, [students] don’t really pay attention,” Treasurer Brian Goga said. “But then as they move higher up in the school, they start getting more involved.” This year’s AP Environmental class had 40 members at one point.

Each team had teacher and parent advisors who helped them refine their plans, prepare their presentations and work up their budget proposals. Advisors were also their teams’ biggest supporters: McQueen advisor Michael McMurray even went so far as to dye his beard green in a show of solidarity. GREENevada presented each advisor with a thank-you gift for all the unpaid hours and moral support they’d given to help their student teams design a better future.

The AACT High School Team with John Hargrove of NV Energy.

John Hargrove is the Renewable Generations program manager for NV Energy, but he’s also a proud dad to Jason Hargrove of AACT. “I can’t wait to watch these presentations,” he said. “As much fun as these kids at my son’s school had, and as big as their ideas got so quickly, this room is full of that… This presentation today is just the start. They’re creating programs that are going to stay running forever.”

Wooster High students proposed an effiency competition between teachers and students.

One of the most inspiring ideas of the day came from the Wooster High team, who suggested having teachers and students compete for the biggest reduction in energy use. For many of these teams, the challenge isn’t just to change their surroundings, but to influence their peers. How can young people spread their enthusiasm for environmental change to new hearts and minds? GREENevada is helping provide new ways for students to affect real change.

GREENevada is a collaboration between the Alliance for Climate Education, Black Rock Solar, Envirolution, GreenPower, Sierra Nevada Journeys, and Urban Roots Garden Classrooms.

Photos by Cindie Geddes and Jessica Reeder.