Students Help DMPS Become a Leader in Recycling


Metro Waste Authority executive director Tom Hadden (r) presents a check for more than $11,000 in support of the district's recycling efforts.

If the rest of the country was as efficient as DMPS our energy and environmental worries would soon be as outmoded as catchall trash cans.

Not only has the district become a national Energy Star/Energy Leader by geothermally heating and cooling schools (and thereby saving lots of money – and jobs!), it’s also beginning to cash in as a major recycler.

The Metro Waste Authority presented DMPS with a rebate check for $11,675.50 at a recent school board meeting as a reward for a 48% increase in the district’s recycling tonnage. One way the money will be used is to place additional recycling containers and make it handier for students, staff and visitors to pile it on.

One good example of the district’s raised environmental consciousness is the Iowa Energy & Sustainability Academy (IESA), a program launched at Central Campus in 2010 by Larry Beall, a veteran DMPS science teacher. By any measure IESA has grown substantially since then.

It started with 17 students and virtually no budget. Now there are 44 students enrolled (not counting the program’s partnership with the Downtown School) and grants from the Iowa Power Fund and Vernier Software & Technology (IESA was one of only 10 out of more than 10,000 applicant schools to receive the company’s maximum award) have funded equipment purchases and hands-on field experiences that include visits to a MidAmerican wind farm and a plant where wind turbines are manufactured.

On Wednesdays IESA students and their protégés from the Downtown School make the rounds of every classroom at Central Campus. In the first year they collected over 20,000 pounds of paper and more than 5,000 bottles and cans. Already this year they have nearly equaled and will far surpass both of those totals. Business is literally and figuratively picking up as word gets around but Beall points out that, “Someday, if we’re really doing the job, we’ll get those totals down to zero.”

To that end, the school board is in the process of transitioning to paperless meetings.

The IESA program has established relationships with many community partners and has the enthusiastic blessing and support of Bill Good, the district’s Chief Operations Officer and the mastermind of an infrastructure renovation campaign that has increased the district’s index of air conditioned classrooms to over 90% while simultaneously slashing energy costs to the tune of more than $1.5 million in savings.

“Students sometimes get it better than adults,” according to Good, who has nothing but good things to say about IESA and its broadening scope.

Recycling is one easy way for everybody to pitch in and support the positive difference DMPS is making in the community. Don’t waste the opportunity! For more information on how to get involved, visit the Recycling web page.

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