By Zach Armstrong

PRINCE GEORGE, Va -- The Prince George County Public School system introduced numerous programs and revisions to make the division more environmentally-friendly in the fall semester of the 2020 school year.

“We are in our infancy in terms of our green sustainable environment programs and we are already seeing some of the benefits through initiating a grassroots green challenge,” said Assistant Superintendent Dustin Menhart. “Our faculty has told me that this is something students have taken an interest in and are very excited in what the future will bring.”

Among the environmental initiatives the school division completed include establishing an Energy and Environment Team, adopted an environmentally-friendly school board policy, created an Energy and Environment website and initiated a division wide plan to reduce energy consumption.

The newly adopted environmental school board policy will include developing a plan to improve energy efficiency of all PGCPS infrastructure, create a voluntary school-wide recycling program, incorporate cost saving methodologies to reduce paper reduction, audit cleaning materials used and establish a plan to use less toxic cleaning materials.

The school division also introduced a Transportation Idling Policy which attempts to reduce emissions emitted by PGCPS vehicles. Some of the provisions under the policy include turning off buses while waiting for students or giving vehicles only five minutes to heat up in cold weather. Previously, it would take some vehicles up to half an hour to heat themselves.

PGCPS also competed for and succeeded receiving a grant to construct a solar panel on school grounds for the 2021 spring semester which will both reduce emissions emitted by the school division and will be introduced in the student curriculum.

The school division will also be introducing an Environmental Science AP class in the fall semester of 2021.

Thanks to meeting their environmental goals, PGCPS became one of a few divisions to be recognized by the Virginia School Board Association as a “Platinum Certified School District”. The recognition will help PGCPS in future efforts to compete for grants and be provided with cost savings through program implementation.

Other Virginia school divisions that received the award were Arlington County, Nottoway County, Patrick County and Virginia Beach City.