With a bond looming, the Lake Oswego School Board agrees to partner with a local network of eco-freindly experts

SUBMITTED PHOTO: RANDY MILLER - Lakeridge School District officials and school board members along with a local community leader recently visited three green schools in the area, including Trillium Creek Primary School in West Linn, to inform plans to improve local school facilities. DOWA-IBI Group principal Karina Ruiz explains how her architecture firm performed its design process for the school. The group gathered in the library includes (clockwise from left, inner circle): Board members Bob Barman, Sarah Howell and John Wendland; district administrator Joe Morelock; LOSD Superintendent Heather Beck, board Chairwoman Liz Hartman, school board member Patti Zebrowski, board member-elect John Wallin and Ruiz. Standing up are Nancy Duin, district communications director; and Ed Hutson, local leaderA network of local sustainability experts is partnering with the Lake Oswego School District as it begins to plan and prioritize a list of facilities upgrades for a school construction bond likely to go before voters in 2016.

The school board approved a resolution earlier this month to partner with the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network, and district officials met with network members last week to talk about eco-friendly opportunities that could range from increased energy and water efficiency in buildings to waste-reduction programs and the addition of solar panels.

Representatives of both groups say that planning for the bond measure is in its earliest stages and that the specific programs and projects it will include are far from settled. But the seed for the growth of sustainability in local schools has already been planted.

“It’s a good time to be working with this group,” school board Chairwoman Liz Hartman told The Review, “since we’re going into a building phase.”

The partnership offers the district a network of local experts to tap when it comes to facilities facelifts that could be not only eco-friendly but also cost-saving. Courtney Clements, who co-chairs the Sustainability Network’s Education Team, says the group is hoping to apply that expertise to help the district address an estimated $24.11 million in deferred maintenance required at local elementary and junior high schools.

“We’d love to be in on that and help craft a bond that would address sustainability issues and add water and energy efficiency to the schools,” Clements said, “not only to provide learning opportunities for the kids but also to save the district money.”

Dorothy Atwood, a Sustainability Network founder, said it’s often parent volunteers who handle many schools’ eco-friendly programs, such as waste-reduction efforts, community garden cultivation and certification or recertification as an Oregon Green School. But parents often move on when their kids do, she said, while the Sustainability Network could serve as a continuous source of volunteer experts for programs that do more than just teach kids about the importance of environmentalism.

The district will share what it needs, and the group will step up. This support of programming and a source of on-call expertise can benefit the district monetarily as well.

“It’s not a tree-hugging movement,” Atwood said, “but a way to become more efficient and fiscally prudent that Fortune 500 CEOs now see as a strategic imperative.”SUBMITTED PHOTO: RANDY MILLER - The library at Trillium Creek Primary School includes a slide and a lounging place suspended from the ceiling. Trillium Creeks been lauded as a green school and has landed laurels including: National School Board Associations Grand Prize for Exhibition of School Architecture. The school has achieved the gold certification level through the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED).

School board member Bob Barman, who owns several gas stations, said he knows all about the economics of sustainability. He established the first net-zero service station, which means it uses as much energy as it creates. Using geothermal energy alone has cut his energy costs by 60 to 70 percent, Barman said, so the partnership with the Sustainability Network makes sense to him.

“This is a great way to drive costs down forever and do some good for the community,” Barman said, “so I’m totally sold.”

Focusing on sustainability and joining forces with the Sustainability Network is becoming something of a trend among Lake Oswego businesses, government agencies and other groups. Kyra’s Bake Shop and the Arts Council of Lake Oswego have signed on, as have the Oswego Lake Watershed Council, Clackamas County Leaders in Sustainability and the Lake Oswego United Church of Christ.

Clements told school board members it made sense for the district to join that list because of the size of the community it can reach.

“You serve a lot of people, you occupy a lot of real estate and you enjoy a lot of visibility,” Clements said. “And you’re educating future leaders to be responsible stewards of our community and our environment. We’re in this for the future, so to achieve our goal of retaining a healthy, resilient, sustainable community, we really need to involve the district.”

The City of Lake Oswego is another sought-after partner. The Sustainability Network and the City Council’s Sustainability Advisory Board already work together on events; those groups likely will finalize a formal relationship in the next couple of months, according to Jenny Slepian, the city’s sustainability and management fellow.

“I know LOSN would like to have a partnership with the city, and the Sustainability Advisory Board is working with them on what that partnership would look like,” Slepian said.


• For more information on the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network, visit

• To view a copy of the Lake Oswego School District’s resolution to partner with LOSN, visit

By Jillian Daley
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