Sustainability is part of DeLaSalle’s legacy – we have and will continue to take steps to set a sustainable agenda for our future so that we may create the same or even better opportunities for those generations who follow in our footsteps.
Such sustainable actions – composting our waste, using solar energy to meet our power needs, and reducing the amount of paper we consume, to name a few examples – are an effort in which we all take responsibility for a more sustainable school, more sustainable community, and more sustainable society. We recognize that our actions today will not only create an even better tomorrow but that they also directly impact our neighbors down the river – and those an ocean away.
DeLaSalle seeks to create an environment in which the young people of our urban area are empowered and enabled to create for themselves and others a functional, literate, safe community and world. With sustainability as a common thread to our planning, we ensure our ability to exist in the heart of Minneapolis for another century educating the world’s future leaders in the Lasallian tradition.
DeLaSalle Earns ENERGY STAR Certification
Commercial buildings like DeLaSalle that earn EPA’S ENERGY STAR certification use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings and also release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The DeLaSalle campus performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA.
City Recognizes DeLaSalle for Energy Efficiency Facility
The City of Minneapolis recognized DeLaSalle in 2015 for being the most energy and water efficient facility among Arts/Community/Education buildings of 100,000 square feet or larger. Mayor Betsy Hodges will recognize the school during a ceremony on October 14 at 3:00pm in the City Hall Rotunda. DeLaSalle plans to push its current ENERGY STAR score of 80 higher by replacing incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Sustainability at DeLaSalle
One step DeLaSalle took toward energy efficiency occurred when Dan DeLong ‘77 generously donated $80,000 in equipment and staff time to install new energy efficiency fluorescent lighting in the Main Gym. The new lights operate under a motion sensor and automatically turn off if the space is unoccupied for 30 minutes. The lights also turn on immediately and do not require a lengthy “warm up” period like the previous lights.
DeLaSalle implemented a source-separated compostable material program in the 2013-14 school year. This student-initiated grant project and the student-led implementation of the program has engaged students, faculty, and staff in launching and sustaining food waste and non-recyclable paper composting in the school cafeteria, kitchen, bathrooms, and at special events held on campus throughout the year.
Renovations to the DeLaSalle kitchen; significant changes to the types of products used, especially in food service operations; and a $19,000 grant from Hennepin County enabled DeLaSalle to successfully launch the composting initiative. The installation of a dishwasher in the kitchen and the purchase of washable dishware and silverware eliminated the use of disposable plastic and Styrofoam products that were thrown away after they were used.
Through the Hennepin County grant, DeLaSalle purchased new recycling and composting containers for classrooms and offices as well as two composting stations that let community members properly dispose of their waste during lunches in the Florance Center. Each station includes a receptacle for unused liquids and containers each for recyclable materials (e.g. milk cartons), compostable food and paper waste, and trash. Compost receptacles replaced trash bins in bathrooms throughout the school to collect used paper towels rather than throwing them away. Recycling containers are available at home athletic games and spectators are encouraged to recycle their plastic beverage bottles instead of throwing them away. While people across the DeLaSalle community are involved in this effort, special recognition goes to the maintenance staff who help remove food waste and non-recyclable composting that is generated during lunches and throughout the school for proper handling.
In 2015, we simplified and expanded our recycling and composting efforts. We moved to a single sort recycling program making it easier than ever to participate. Now, all recyclables can be placed in any recycle bin throughout the school, no sorting necessary. This also makes it much easier for our maintenance staff, too, as there is no need to separate plastic bottles from paper from cardboard when collecting these items. We’ve also placed new recycling and composting receptacles in 30 hallway locations throughout the building. So, recycling and composting is available campus-wide.
Credit for the Hennepin County grant and composting program at DeLaSalle goes, in large part, to Katharine Reed ‘14 and her father Michael, who previously started a composting initiative at Annunciation Catholic School. Their leadership spearheaded proved instrumental in helping coordinate the purchase of new recycling and composting containers and education of community members.
The school received a grant from Xcel Energy that allowed it to install the 31-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (pv) system on the roof of the LL Gray gymnasium to generate electricity. Returning excess energy can help reduce the amount of electricity produced from fossil fuels needed to create energy in our community.
Renewable energy incentive programs and credits paid for more than half of the cost of the solar panel installation. The system, which uses 235-watt panels, will produce energy year-round and will have an annual net benefit of thousands of dollars to the school. Among the many benefits – the solar panels will require minimal maintenance because they contain no moving parts.
The installation and use of the solar panels provide DeLaSalle and the broader community with valuable benefits. The panels offer teachers and students a practical lesson about the benefits and current technology of carbon neutral production of electricity. Capturing solar energy through the panels also reduces DeLaSalle’s carbon footprint in addition to providing a financial benefit to the school.
We take pride that, through these steps, we will contribute far less carbon dioxide emissions into our environment, reducing the volume of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global climate change.
Students Engaged in Sustainability Programs
In February 2015, three dozen DeLaSalle students participated in a youth-led day at the state Capitol to promote an increase in clean energy in Minnesota. The students met with the state senators and representatives who represent them in the Legislature to press them into improving Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard to 40 percent by 2030. A law passed in 2007 already requires 25 percent of energy come from renewable sources – like wind and solar energy – by 2025. Students also lobbied to raise the yearly energy savings goal for utilities from 1.5 percent to 2 percent.
Kumar Flower Kay ‘15 played a significant role in organizing and promoting the clean energy lobby day through his internship with the Will Steger Foundation.
The day culminated in a student-driven discussion panel with Governor Dayton, who voiced his support for an improved clean energy plan.
Annual Island Cleanup Day
Interested students, parents, and volunteers gather every spring to help clean up the DeLaSalle campus and Nicollet Island. The Parent Association first began the cleanup day in 2007 and continues to manage the annual event. Volunteers meet at DeLaSalle, then go out in groups to clean up the island. We encourage volunteers to bring a rake and gloves, if they have them. The work includes raking, picking up garbage, and other cleanup efforts. The Parent Association traditionally hosts a free barbecue after the cleanup and we invite cleanup volunteers to join us.
Please visit the Parent Association webpage for more information about the annual cleanup day.