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CSW Becomes First Independent School to Be Certified as Sustainable Leader

The winter of 2015 will be remembered for many firsts in Greater Boston. The area broke longstanding weather records with the snowiest February, the snowiest all-time month and the most sub-freezing days ever seen in the season.

But despite the cold, dark days students, faculty and staff at CSW kept the lights low, the heat down, and their focus steady to become the first independent high school in the region to be certified as a Sustainable Community Leader by the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts. The program supports non-profit organizations, community groups, and houses of worship in their efforts to improve their environmental practices and reduce their carbon footprint. The two-year partnership has seen CSW incorporate sustainable practices into the curriculum, campus culture and provide a platform for students to learn about sustainability.

“Changing cultural norms is always challenging,” said Jane Moulding, Head of School. “But remaining committed to lowering thermostats during record–breaking cold and keeping lights low during a near-record number of cloudy and partly cloudy days makes it more difficult.”

However, in fall 2013, as the first school to participate in the Sustainable Community Leader Program (SCLP), CSW committed to developing and implementing a comprehensive school-wide sustainability plan. That has meant taking important steps to encourage the community to be mindful of energy usage and waste and to find other ways that we can reduce and conserve.

The school first established a student and faculty Sustainability Committee to keep close tabs on the school's energy usage throughout the school year, monitoring:

● Electricity Use
● Natural Gas Use
● Water Use

It also closely monitors the amount of electricity generated by the 300 photovoltaic solar panels atop The Garthwaite Center for Science and Art. In the past two years, the total CO2 offset has equaled nearly 2,000 trees, and the total energy generated equals 619 60 watt bulbs for one year of eight hour/day use, 8,800 gallons of gas saved, and 77 tons of CO2 saved. According to Marilyn Del Donno, CSW Sustainability Coordinator and Science Teacher, calculating the School’s current carbon footprint is an important metric to measure its student, faculty and staff progress in the coming years.

“From my perspective, we already were doing a lot of things right,” explains Marilyn.

“Our facilities department is always working to reduce energy usage by lowering thermostats, sealing windows, and even sending out communications on easy conservation tips. The SCLP certification did open our eyes to a lot of low-hanging fruit like eliminating single-serving coffee machines, and reducing lighting. It pushed us to implement structures like the faculty and elected student stewards, and to make sustainability thinking more part of our daily life. We also are making sustainability an important goal and an inherent part of social justice.”

“Through achieving certification,” added Alex Barber, Membership and Program Director at the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, “The Cambridge School of Weston is now a leader and model for sustainability for other independent schools. It can help other schools improve their sustainability practices. By educating and supporting high school students in sustainability work, it will allow them to adopt sustainable practices that create change and support sustainable development.”

The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.