District Board Signs Student-Initiated Sustainability Resolution

Jacob Duran

It is widely accepted within the scientific community that climate change is one of the greatest obstacles we will have to overcome in the coming years. Our generation is leading the efforts to address this pressing issue. One of the methods students have used is to start within our own schools. 

Last June, the Board of Education unanimously signed a Sustainability Resolution drafted by students, listing specific, environmentally sustainable goals for the Salt Lake City School District. The Resolution required the creation of a task force that must report to the Board with an action plan addressing these targets by October 1st, 2021. 

The two primary goals of this resolution are to:

  1. Use 100% clean, renewable energy in the electricity sector by 2030
  2. Meet 100% of all district operations’ energy needs with carbon neutral energy by 2040. 

I interviewed Greg Libecci, the Energy and Resource Manager here in the Salt Lake City School District, who provided some insight as to how this will benefit the environment and the West High community.

One of the most simple adjustments the Resolution calls for is the installation of LED lights in our schools. This retrofit would make more efficient use of energy and, according to Mr. Libecci, “reduce the cost of lighting by as much as sixty percent.” It would also increase the equity of students’ learning environments, as newer schools are already being built with LED lights. 

Students also want our schools to run on solar energy produced in the building. That way, the schools would be using electricity sourced from renewable energy and used more efficiently with the LED lights. 

During last November’s election, President Trump claimed that many jobs could be lost if President Biden’s plans to transition to clean, renewable energy were met. Mr Libecci seems to disagree with his claim:

“There was a time when telephone operators were sitting there and, every phone call that was made, it took somebody’s job to pull a chord out and push it into another hole. With the evolution of telephone technology, thousands of operators lost their jobs. But guess what? Thousands of new jobs were created at the same time.” 

With so many jobs being created in the renewable energy industry everyday across the country, Mr. Libecci encourages students to look into a career in this sector. 

As for the question of the cost of electricity, some fear that prices will skyrocket when we move more towards these changes. “The truth is,” Mr. Libecci says, “Rocky Mountain Power, which is our energy provider, has determined that all of their new power going forward will come from renewable sources like big wind farms, or solar farms because it’s now cheaper”. Prices may continue to go up incrementally like they always have, but he does not think the will drastically increase. 

West High is making the effort to transition to more environmentally sustainable practices. Currently, recycled paper and cardboard at the school is reused as attic insulation in Salt Lake City homes. Not only does this earn West money, but it also makes heating these houses easier and therefore cheaper. 

Few students at West know these things are going on under our school roof. This is why it is our job to get the word out that by incorporating simple practices, like reducing our consumption of plastics and other harmful materials, into our lives, we are participating in change.

 For those interested in seeing change in climate issues, Mr. Libecci recommends joining the Environmental Club, and you can be a part of making a change.

In Libecci’s words, “I just encourage students to know that they are part of the solution, their day to day decisions are what make the difference. Your power to turn that light off at home or at school when walking out of the classroom. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Be the solution.” 


Contact Info: 

Greg Libecci


[email protected]

Energy and Resource Manager

Salt Lake City School District