Tempe Union High School District is dreaming green.

In what was the first in many steps toward a "greener" district, the TUHSD Governing Board agreed to explore a plan on Wednesday, Aug. 18, which detailed steps that could make them one of the most eco-friendly school districts in Arizona.

The "go green" initiative, called Innovative Energy Solutions and Sustainability Project, is a comprehensive effort involving Southwest Gas, Salt River Project, APS, Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability and others to find the most efficient way to make the district more environmentally friendly.

In a presentation to the governing board, Go Green Committee member and head of plant operations Bob Anderson talked about ways the district could save energy and water use on the eight district campuses, including Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe high schools. Examples included switching from desktop computers to laptops, saving nearly $3,000 per year for every 35 computers. In a past example, Tempe High School made the change from HID lights to fluorescent bulbs, which now saves them $15,200 per year in energy costs.

"The results speak for themselves," Anderson said. "When you look at this plan and the potential of what it can grow to, you know it is going to be unique and going to be recognized."

The next step in the process is for the Go Green Committee to put together specifics of the plan and present them to companies that will bid on the project.

"We know where we are at, and now what we need to do is put out an invite to vendors who can get us from where we are today to where we want to be," he said.

TUHSD Superintendent Steve Adolph said of the presentation: "The best one you've ever done, Bob."

To Anderson, the district and the companies involved, the project is not just about saving the district money in the long run, although that is an important aspect, it is about education and preparation of students that attend district schools.

"We didn't want to just be the normal school district that finds a piece of equipment to save money," he said. "Our main focus is to educate kids, and give them an edge for higher education."

The current timeline projects that the bid will be awarded at the beginning of 2011 and the project will begin at the end of next year. In between a curriculum will be developed for use in the classroom.

"This is essentially the future for our kids," Anderson said. "There are a lot of new jobs being created. This is a cutting edge market and we're fortunate to live and work in a community that supports going green and being responsible."

The companies that have contributed thus far to TUHSD's Go Green Committee will continue to work with Anderson and district staff to ensure that all the goals of the project are met.

"We have an advantage over districts in the state, having the partnerships we have," he said. "The companies know fossil fuels are not the future. They are looking for an alternative, looking for people to take them to the next level."

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