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Mothers Out Front PWC, Climate Groups Applaud Bold Climate Resolution by Prince William County School Board

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Excellent work by the Prince William County School Board and everyone else – such as the Prince William Chapter of Mothers Out Front and their coalition – who helped produce the following climate resolution. It’s urgent that every local and state government move ahead as aggressively as they possibly can in slashing their greenhouse gas emissions. The planet we save will most definitely be our own.

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MOTHERS OUT FRONT PWC AND CLIMATE GROUPS APPLAUD BOLD CLIMATE RESOLUTION BY PWC SCHOOL BOARD

Woodbridge, VA- The moms’ climate group Mothers Out Front (MOF) Prince William County is thrilled to announce the approval of the boldest climate resolution ever passed by a local Prince William authority.

The resolution, which was drafted with significant input over the course of the year from MOF, the Greater Prince William Climate Action Network (GPWCAN) and youth group PWC Climate Action, was passed unanimously by the PWC School Board last night.

Our groups advocated for several of the most significant actions included in the resolution:

  • Recognizing climate change as a “worldwide threat with the potential to harm our economy, safety, public health, and quality of life” and planning to create “a long-term strategic plan to address sustainability concerns”;
  • Directing staff to establish standards that include renewable energy and “provide options for design and construction of net zero buildings, including all new construction and major renovations over 10,000 square feet, as well as any major roof replacements”;
  • Presenting the School Board with solar Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) plans for all new construction, and retrofitting opportunities for older schools, where appropriate;
  • Providing the cost of replacing all fossil fuel school buses with electric school buses;
  • Establishing a Sustainability Advisory Committee, comprised of community members, staff, and students, that will provide the School Board with perspectives of all stakeholders;
  • Requesting that the Prince William Board of County Supervisors creates a Joint Task Force on Sustainability in concert with the School Board; and
  • Creating measurable standards of environmental literacy, to include a focus on sustainability for all K-12 students in PWCS.

In response to the resolution’s passage, Del. Elizabeth Guzman, who represents Virginia’s 31st District in the House of Delegates, said:

“As a mother, I want to commend the Prince William Chapter of Mothers Out Front and their coalition for their efforts to pass such a comprehensive climate resolution at the Prince William County School Board this evening. This is a perfect example of how grassroots efforts will continue to change the political landscape of this country.”

The carbon pollution that comes from powering school districts nationwide with fossil fuels amounts to that produced by 18 coal plants, so making our school buildings net zero and switching to electric school buses is essential to our effort to combat climate change. Transportation is the largest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and accounts for 40% of all emissions in Virginia, and the effects of diesel fumes on health and climate are well documented. Diesel school bus fumes contain particulate matter that causes asthma, premature death, stroke, heart attacks, premature birth, and low birthweight as well as NOx fumes, which are a known carcinogen. Also concerning is that diesel fumes are concentrated up to six times more inside a school bus than outside.

Tiziana Bottino, MOF Northern Virginia organizer and GPWCAN founder, said:

“Our parents and students can now truly be proud to live in a county that will provide world-class education. Children will not only learn about helping the planet with the use of clean energy but experience it firsthand in their classrooms and school buildings, where they spend most of their childhood. We will all benefit from these important initiatives through cleaner air, better education, and millions of dollars in energy savings over the years. We are so thankful to Chair Dr. Lateef and the entire School Board for their dedication to our children’s health and their future.”

MOF will also host a webinar titled “Making the Business Case for Green Schools” on June 23 at 7pm.

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About Mothers Out Front: We build our power as mothers to ensure a livable climate for all children. Together, we are powerful, and we use our power to move decision makers to take actions that will ensure a healthy environment for all children. We are led by our membership. Leadership and decision making are shared across the movement, and the process and outcomes are made transparent to our members. We build collective and individual power by encouraging personal agency, learning and sharing, innovation and risk-taking.

Supporting Groups include: The Greater Prince William Climate Action Network, PW Climate Action

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SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVE

WHEREAS, The Prince William County School Board desires to protect and enhance the quality of life for all those who live, work, learn, and play in our community, as well as for our children and grandchildren; and

WHEREAS, Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) has 95 schools and 11 support buildings, with 11,337,234 total square feet, and energy consumption is a significant portion of Division costs or budget; and 

WHEREAS, there is scientific consensus regarding the reality of climate change and the recognition that human activity, especially the combustion of fossil fuels that create greenhouse gases, is a key driver of climate change; and

WHEREAS, climate change has been widely recognized by government, business, academic, and other community leaders as a worldwide threat with the potential to harm our economy, safety, public health, and quality of life; and 

WHEREAS, The Prince William County School Board plans on creating a long-term strategic plan to address sustainability concerns, while also recognizing that new clean energy technologies can provide financial savings and improved efficiencies for our schools and taxpayers; and

WHEREAS, the Prince William County School Board recognizes sustainability as a high priority moving forward in regard to reducing the Division’s overall carbon footprint, protecting the environment, and realizing cost savings with emerging energy technologies;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Prince William County School Board directs school administration staff to:

  • Establish standards and provide options for design and construction of net zero buildings, including all new construction and major renovations over 10,000 square feet, as well as any major roof replacements. These options may include solar, wind, geothermal, and other sources of renewable energy where appropriate;
  • Present the School Board with solar Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) plans for all new construction, and retrofitting opportunities for older schools, where appropriate. Establish standards for procurement, installation, and operations of said systems, e.g., solar orientation, roof constructability, and maintenance, etc.;
  • Recommend a standard of high-performance building design specifications that meets or exceeds such commercially available standards as LEED, CHIPS, WELL Building; or other best practices;
  • Provide an update on the progress of the grant award of two electric school buses provided through Dominion Energy’s pilot on electrification of buses;
  • Provide the cost of replacing all fossil fuel school buses with electric school buses;
  • Establish a Sustainability Advisory Committee, comprised of community members, staff, and students, that will provide the School Board with perspectives of all stakeholders. Committee members will be appointed by School Board, School Administration, and the Office of Energy Management and Sustainability. The committee will make recommendations to the School Board;
  • Request that the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, in concert with the School Board, create a countywide task force to address sustainability, clean energy opportunities, and operational resiliency for all government buildings, thereby leveraging the assets of the entire county to reduce the costs of moving toward clean energy options;
  • Create measurable standards of environmental literacy, to include a focus on sustainability for all K-12 students in PWCS. Establish project-based learning opportunities with new efforts focused on sustainability and environmental literacy;
  • Direct funds designated by the School Board for a sustainability study to prepare information, obtain external consultation with experts, as necessary, to move the Division toward net zero/sustainable school design and enhanced energy conservation;
  • Increase site-based participation in recycling and waste reduction; and
  • Provide a timeline with deliverables for above actions within the next 90 days so that the School Board will have a foundation to develop an updated sustainability strategic plan.

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Babur B. Lateef, M.D., Chairman At-Large
Prince William County School Board

Dr. Steven L. Walts, Superintendent
Prince William County Public Schools