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Chartiers Valley blends a little green into color scheme

| Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 2:54 p.m.

The Chartiers Valley School District is looking at ways to not just go green, but to improve sustainability.

The district last year participated in a Green Building Academy, a series of workshops based on how schools operate and how they can incorporate the environment and sustainability into lessons.

The school board on Tuesday heard from independently contracted expert Bob Kobet, on how the district can focus more on sustainability.

An architect previously was hired to review the buildings, and identify and prioritize issues in terms of renovation and replacement, said Superintendent Brian White.

“That was presented last spring, and we invited Bob to listen in and take the architect's report and review it,” White said.

Kobet is the chief executive officer of the Kobet Collaborative, a Pittsburgh company that is the parent of Sustainaissance International and the International Eco-Friends Network, companies that focus on green initiatives and sustainability.

“His perspective gives us thoughts to ponder when we consider the architecture report from last year,” White said. “They're not necessarily something we would have considered otherwise.”

Kobet's report focused on facilities, curriculum and community.

In terms of facilities, Kobet suggested the district use renewable and advanced power systems and geothermal space conditioning, and build energy management systems. Chartiers Valley also could expand its use of green cleaning and green building maintenance practices, he said.

In terms of curriculum, Kobet said, it's about “getting kids outside and getting them engaged.” He suggested incorporating rain gardens and alternative landscapes onto school grounds, and using them in lesson plans — such as basing math problems on rain-barrel measurements.

“You don't need a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) lab. You need a building that can teach STEM,” he said.

He also suggested supporting student sustainability advocacy groups that can volunteer for community activities.

Another activity, he said, is the Young Masters Programme, which allows students working with sustainability to connect via cyberspace with students doing the same in other countries.

Chartiers Valley High School students “can be talking to kids in Spain about what they're growing in their garden,” he said. “There are benefits to understanding other cultures. The Green Schools Movement is global, and it's not going away.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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