Prince George’s Schools Embark on Ambitious Climate Action Plan

Prince George’s County Public Schools approved an ambitious climate change action plan to lower the school system’s carbon footprint and incorporate climate education into school curriculum. In total, the plan includes 58 recommendations stemming from a work group of diverse stakeholders.

The Prince George’s County Board of Education voted unanimously at its April 28 meeting to approve of a comprehensive plan and set of recommendations on how the school system can best help combat the impacts of climate change.

County Process and Climate Change Work

The recommendations come from the Climate Change Action Plan Focus Work Group (CCAP Focus Work Group), established in March 2021 after Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) students urged the board to take swift and meaningful action on climate change. At the same time, the county board passed a resolution to tackle climate change, which included commitments to the following goals:

  • 100% Clean Sourced Electricity by 2030;
  • 100% Clean Energy in all energy sectors, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), and cooking, by 2040;
  • 100% Zero Food Waste by 2030;
  • 100% Clean Transportation, by 2040; and
  • 100% Zero Landfill Waste by 2040.

The CCAP Focus Work Group is composed of 25 members including representatives of the board, students, school administration and leadership, industry leaders, and elected officials. It underwent an extensive, multi-step plan to develop the newly approved recommendations that included assessing the county’s current status in relation to climate change, a needs assessment and gap analysis, and stakeholder input.

Newly Approved Climate Change Action Plan

The approved set of recommendations include initiatives that would reduce the amount of food waste and nonrenewable energy from the school system, enhancing the school system’s career technology education (CTE) program to further incorporate “green” skills and job readiness, and curriculum updates to teach relevant subjects like construction design using recyclable materials.

In total, the board approved a set of 58 recommendations, as presented in the 100+ page document linked below. That document describes the work group’s processes and resulting recommendations as the following:

The Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP or “Plan”) reviews how PGCPS can make different decisions that will lessen the school system’s impact on the environment and be more resilient to the negative effects of climate change. The Plan documents progress to date in advancing climate action across important topic areas. Building on this information, it presents strategies to reach a carbon-free, resilient PGCPS. We see clear opportunities in three broad areas: advancing internal systems in PGCPS operations so that our systems and processes are as climate-friendly as possible; reducing our contributions to greenhouse gas emissions; preparing PGCPS and the community for resiliency through impacts of a changing climate.

According to the PGCPS website, “PGCPS is one of the twenty largest school systems in the nation with approximately 136,000 students and an annual budget of $2.1 billion. PGCPS manages 207 educational facilities, plus many other administrative facilities, and has approximately 19,000 employees. As of May 2021, 131 of the schools in the systems have been certified under the Green School program.”

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