DPS Climate Action Plan 2023

Page 1




Denver Public Schools Land Acknowledgment

Recognizing Denver Public Schools’ (DPS) commitments to “Know Justice, Know Peace,” we, the Denver Public Schools educational community, place our minds and bodies in this space while acknowledging Indigenous relatives who have lived in and cared for this ancient land from time immemorial.

We recognize the close relationship that Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Southern Ute, and Ute Mountain Ute, and Natives of other tribal Nations continue to have with the waters, plants, and all moving things that call this Land home.

We pledge our respect for those enduring Indigenous connections to the place we now call Colorado.

Sustainability Team Land Acknowledgment

As the stewards of Denver Public Schools’ environmental and climate goals, we bear an additional responsibility to tend to the land and our human and non-human relatives. We acknowledge Indigenous Peoples maintain rights to this land, their ancestral homelands, as well as the role they play historically and currently in caring for the land on which Denver Public Schools stands.

We also recognize that Denver Public Schools exist within a system of government, education, and culture founded on the exclusions and erasures of Indigenous Peoples and that without active efforts to work against this infrastructure, we perpetuate these harmful effects. Understanding this relationship, we seek to leverage our position as an educational institution to provide exposure and learning opportunities for students around what is now known as Denver to honor the legacy and heritage of Indigenous Peoples on this land.

We echo the City and County of Denver’s pledge to let this acknowledgment demonstrate a commitment to working to dismantle ongoing legacies of oppression and inequities, and recognize the current and future contributions of Indigenous communities in Denver.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 2


Denver Public Schools (DPS) is proud to present its updated Climate Action Plan (CAP). This plan brings together the voices of the DPS community in a commitment to tackle climate change and promote environmental justice and equity.

When the Denver Board of Education adopted its new policy governance model, we intended to shift day-to-day responsibilities to DPS administrators and free the Board to collaborate more closely with our community and develop a vision to guide DPS into the future. It did not take our community long to take advantage of our new model and make their voices heard.

In April of 2022, student leaders brought forward their own ideas for that vision and, having worked closely with several Board members, managed to enshrine their climate goals into DPS’ long-term vision and policies.

This CAP is the direct result of student activism and passion. The acceleration of the climate crisis from a vague threat to an everyday reality led students to mobilize and urge DPS to take more significant and concrete action.

To develop our plan of action, DPS embarked on an 18-month process which included a greenhouse gas Inventory and an in-depth community engagement process to guide the development of actionable climate initiatives. We convened our community— teachers, students, parents, principals, staff, and industry leaders—to ensure that


the Climate Action Plan addresses their priorities and concerns. As superintendent and day-to-day leader of DPS, I am thrilled by our community’s ambition and excited to continue this collaboration to implement the Climate Action Plan and achieve our collective vision.

Students conceived of the Climate Action Plan, and therefore we pledge to listen first to the voices of students in its implementation.

DPS is dedicated to empowering our students and providing them with the tools, resources, and support necessary to be environmental stewards.

It is the passion and commitment of our young scholars that gives me hope and confidence in our ability to take collective action and build a more healthy and sustainable future for generations to come.


For years we leaned on the language of “crisis” to motivate climate action, sounding an urgent siren about disastrous wildfires, worsening air quality, shorter winters, and more.

We at Denver Public Schools pride ourselves on our engaged student body whose bravery and activism overcame their anxiety and fear over their uncertain future. Our students passed a climate action policy through the Denver Public School’s Board of Education and with it came swift action in updating our Sustainability Plan (a.k.a., this Climate Action Plan).

However, as we spoke to our DPS community about this plan update, we realized that our stakeholders were tired of that framework of crisis. We realized the impact of this burdensome narrative of catastrophe on our students who feel increasingly desperate and hopeless about their futures.

So today we are starting a new narrative. We must move beyond feeling scared of the weight of what we must do to focus simply and narrowly on doing.

It is our responsibility as educators and caretakers to respond to the climate problems we helped create with bold action, innovation, and accountability. As we publish this report, our team is hard at work finding creative ways with our partners and collaborators to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, conserve our natural resources, and prepare students for a green economy.


We owe it to our students to hit the refresh button on the narrative of the climate crisis. We have to show them what we can do and will do together with hope and excitement.

Today is day one of our new narrative of climate action. We invite you to join us on this journey.


We students were born into a world we didn’t make and got handed a huge existential problem we didn’t create. Yet, we are forced to live with and try to imagine a future for ourselves, our friends, and our families with the devastating consequences of climate change. We keep hearing that we are the future, that we will fix our ancestors’ mistakes, and that we give everyone hope. Honestly, we are exhausted by these expectations.

The worst of climate impacts disproportionately affects young people, people of color, and people experiencing poverty, exacerbating existing inequities and limiting opportunities. All these groups have historically been denied seats at the decisionmaking table, leaving us the least amount of power to determine our futures. These throughlines teach us that social justice and racial justice are directly related to environmental justice, and all require immediate action.

We understand the weight of this task.

The past and current generations most responsible for causing climate change are either long gone or fear the burdens they pass onto their children and grandchildren. At every turn, we (youth) have been given every reason to lose hope, grow apathetic, and despair at our ability to solve this global challenge.

We are left with one option: to raise our collective voices, become activists, and fight for our future.


We students must reject the notion that we should shoulder all responsibility for creating a climate-just future simply because too many have relinquished their responsibility to act. As the institution in charge of educating current and future generations of Denver youth, Denver Public Schools bears the responsibility to prepare us for an uncertain future and to model the climate action leadership they want instilled in us.

We organized our community, showed up at Board meetings, rallied and staged sit-ins, and developed climate policies and goals for Denver Public Schools. Our activism culminated in demands for the Board to pass a Climate Ends Statement, support a Climate Action Plan that directs the District to meet our climate goals, and take real action based on the plan.

We recognize that this plan is only the beginning, but we students are committed to staying passionate, energized, and hopeful about the real action that will emerge from this plan. Together, we want to inspire hope, and we believe that together, the entire DPS community can make a difference.

CONTENTS Why a Climate Action Plan The Creation of a Climate Action Plan Greenhouse Gas Inventory Results Our Framework Our Framework in Action Environmental Protection Built Environment Transportation Economic Prosperity Resource Management Wellness Social Development Engagement & Environmental Justice Career & Curriculum What Now? Acknowledgments Appendix: Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1 13 23 33 39 41 43 57 63 65 71 77 79 83 87 89 92
Public Schools • 10


Ultimately the process yielded a renewed Climate Action Plan guided by the following vision: DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS IS RECOGNIZED AS A LEADER AND STEWARD OF HEALTHY, LIVABLE, AND SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTS.

1 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
Maya senior, for

This Climate Action Policy and set of goals were the result of over a year of student-led activism by the group DPS Students for Climate Action.1 Prior to the passage of the climate policy, the students also laid the groundwork for additional movements behind the scenes.

By early November 2021, DPS kicked off the effort to update the District’s Sustainability Management Plan. The process to update the existing plan and turn it into a Climate Action Plan involved the entire DPS community and integrated input and feedback from every major stakeholder group in the District, including departmental staff, students, teachers, parents, and the general public.

1 For more information see: https://www.dpsclimateaction.org



accompany this vision to explain how the District’s work will be prioritized and implemented:

1. Act with urgency.

2. Enhance and engage in the lives of stakeholders, students, and our community.

3. Prepare students for a green economy through career development opportunities and curriculum.

4. Promote cross-functional collaboration, continuous improvement, and innovation.

5. Ensure sustainability is a core DPS value.

6. Go beyond reducing our environmental impact to creating a regenerative system, and recognize humans play a role in that solution.

7. Ensure the economic feasibility of initiatives.

8. Contribute to environmental justice and healthy environments.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 2
On the day before Earth Day in 2022, Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education unanimously passed the Climate Action Policy.
Our futures depend on us taking action.
Maya Kitei, South High School senior, member of the DPS Students for Climate Action










* For more information and impressive stats see: https://www.dpsk12.org/about/facts-figures/

3 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

The DPS Sustainability Team began in 2009 and focused on natural resource management.

Its purview has since grown to include a variety of areas from gardens to renewable energy to curriculum and much more. Ultimately, the Team works to ensure DPS has the tools, support, and experience to drive climate action and be responsible stewards of the environment.

The Team has brought in over $9 million since 2009, and it looks forward to using this plan to not only show the financial benefit of sustainability—but also the environmental and social benefits.

The Team’s mission is strongly connected to ensuring DPS’ vision of “Every Learner Thrives”, and its work is tied to empowering the voices of DPS students.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 4

Building on Existing Sustainability Work


The 2012 Sustainability Management Plan cited initial efforts to transition to more efficient energy and water systems; install solar panels; provide staff, student, and community training; establish gardens; initiate recycling and composting programs; reduce paper use; and plan better bus routes to optimize fuel use and reduce idling.

The Sustainability Team began publishing annual reports to document their progress toward goals set by the 2012 plan.

In the 2020-2021 school year, for example, sustainability efforts resulted in a 4.5% reduction in utility expenditure and $3.3 million dollars of avoided energy costs compared to the previous threeyear average.

In 2020, DPS embarked on an Energy Performance Contract to identify, develop, and implement significant energy efficiency upgrades to DPS facilities. When signed, the contract represented the Colorado Energy Office’s largest-ever Energy Performance Contract.

The initial contract includes 27 schools—over 3.8 million square feet—and will result in a guaranteed savings of nearly $1.6 million dollars per year.

2021 saw DPS procure its first-ever electric bus and charging station, deploying over $337,000 dollars in grant funding.

In collaboration with several community partners, DPS’ garden program of 126 gardens across the entire District grew over six tons (12,250 pounds) of produce for its schools and food banks, the most the District has produced to date.

Other wins during this school year include updating sustainable design

5 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

guidelines based on the recent best practices and the installment of direct digital controls to automate the mechanical functions of five schools and smart irrigation meters in 27 schools.

Fiscal Year ‘22 Environmental & Social Impact

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 6 WHY A CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

Enter Student Activism


With students struggling to connect across a virtual school setting and few activities and school groups to provide respite, many students and parents took a step back to reflect.

Youth sustainability leaders and parents discovered that dozens of school districts across the country had already passed climate action policies. They noted that the District’s existing plan did not specifically address climate change and that the District was not required to follow the City of Denver or the State of Colorado’s climate goals.

So beginning in January 2021, youth activists and their allies began organizing to push DPS to adopt a

climate action plan of its own and match the City and County of Denver’s ambitious greenhouse gas emissions goals.

They met with Board members and administrators, gathered endorsements from prominent community leaders, collected over 4,000 signatures for their petition, and regularly attended public comment sessions, ultimately finding themselves lobbying an enthusiastic Board of Education.

The students’ plan of action includes passing the Climate Action Policy, working with the District to craft the Climate Action Plan, supporting the implementation phase, and holding DPS accountable.

7 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.
Amanda Gorman, Poet and Activist, 22 years old


DPS shall be a national leader in establishing an organizational culture anchored in sustainability, climate action, and environmental justice in both the conservation of natural resources and minimization of the carbon footprint of DPS’ practices.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 8 WHY A CLIMATE ACTION PLAN
“” -

Environmental Justice


Data demonstrates climate change disproportionately impacts young people, people of color, and people in poverty.

According to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, average temperatures are expected to rise by an additional 2.5° to 5° F by 2050 in Colorado,1 but temperatures in Denver may increase faster due to the large percentage of surfaces covered by heat-trapping concrete (a phenomenon known as Urban Heat Island Effect).

Warming temperatures threaten to worsen air quality, increase the severity and frequency of wildfires, and decrease water availability and water quality. These changes will also increase energy demand to power air conditioning.

Communities already deemed vulnerable will face the most severe consequences of each of these climate impacts.

Low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to be energy burdened, which means they spend 5% or more of their monthly income on energy costs.

These communities are also more likely to live in neighborhoods with more impervious surfaces and fewer green spaces and urban trees, leading to a greater vulnerability to Urban Heat Island Effect.

9 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
1 Colorado Water Conservation Board Department of Natural Resources, “Climate,” (2022).

Air quality issues, including pollution from industrial facilities, tend to affect these communities more severely and more frequently.

Combined with the institutionalized barriers that lead to lower average incomes and greater preexisting health burdens, climate-related issues will diminish these communities’ resilience and capacity to respond to both natural disasters and the everyday stresses of a more extreme climate.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 10
Earth is our home. My home is your home.
Amelia Fernández Rodríguez, Sophomore, Denver School of Science and Technology: Conservatory Green High School

Taking Ownership & Action


Implementation of the strategies and tactics of the Climate Action Plan will build on the existing relationships and momentum across all stakeholder groups, including teachers, students, parents, principals, staff, and more.

DPS’ Sustainability Team will lead the District through this implementation phase, working as a connector, coordinator, and resource hub for the various departments and schools.

Additionally, through the Team’s engagement with the DPS Climate Action Task Force, several departmental sustainability champions were identified to carry the Climate Action Plan into their individual department’s functions and operations.

The Sustainability Team will similarly identify and support champions at the individual school level who can cultivate a culture of sustainability and climate action at each school.

Finally, the entire DPS community has stayed supportive, energized, and

engaged throughout the planning process, generating an exciting momentum that the District hopes to lean on again as it transitions to the implementation phase. The District will continue to work closely with the DPS community to execute their shared vision.

In particular, the students’ participation in the Climate Action Plan’s implementation will serve as a guide and source of feedback and accountability. Student voices spurred the development of the Climate Action Plan and their voices will continue to lead the District into a brighter, bolder future.

11 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 12 WHY A CLIMATE ACTION PLAN
We have the capability to live in a cleaner, greener, and more hopeful world again, and we have the opportunity to conserve our resources.
Brown, South High School senior, member of the DPS
for Climate Action


Greta Thunberg

Swedish Activist, 19 years old

13 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
I’ve learnt that no one is too small to make a difference.

Hundreds of these voices contributed to the creation of this Climate Action Plan. As such, the spirit and urgency of the many who spoke up and demanded immediate action are ingrained into the plan’s foundational vision, goals, and frameworks. These voices were instrumental in the passage of the Climate Action Policy in April 2022.

With so many community members engaged by the call for the Climate Action Policy, the DPS Team sought to capitalize on their engagement and develop a highly community-based process for the plan update that continued to build relationships across DPS.

Motivated by the students’ Climate Action Ends Statement, DPS kicked off a comprehensive effort to reevaluate and reimagine their existing plan to focus on climate action, implementation, accountability, and environmental justice.

Ultimately, the planning process encompassed a financial assessment, a new greenhouse gas emissions inventory, a business-as-usual analysis for greenhouse gas emissions, a greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategy model, a lengthy community engagement process, a revamped website, and a focus on supporting student activism.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 14
The small group of students and parents that first began to demand climate action in the early months of 2021 quickly swelled over the course of a year to thousands of supporters.

Plan Update Process


Rooted in the student-driven commitments to renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, the plan update process began with an inventory of DPS’ greenhouse gas emissions produced over fiscal year (FY) 2021.

The inventory analysis revealed the District’s largest greenhouse gas emissions sources and trends over time. From this process, additional analysis tools were created including a businessas-usual model and the modeling of


Once the greenhouse gas emissions inventory process kicked off, DPS turned its attention toward staff, students, and the broader DPS community. The goal of the engagement process was to ensure that the Climate Action Plan reflected the community’s priorities, concerns, and focus on environmental justice and equity.

different climate action strategies. Collectively, these tools enable DPS to make informed decisions about prioritizing certain climate strategies and tactics to achieve the most greenhouse gas emissions reductions possible.

For more information on the greenhouse gas emissions inventory, business-asusual model, and strategy modeling, see the Greenhouse Gas Inventory Results section.

Through active communication with stakeholders, the Sustainability Team sought to balance the community’s boldest ambitions with what felt achievable and actionable for DPS staff based on capacity and staffing levels.

The Team developed a multi-pronged approach to best collect feedback

15 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

from different stakeholder groups with diverse needs across the DPS community. This included focus groups, informational interviews, a DPS staff Task Force, a community-wide survey, and student involvement and training. The engagements incorporated a variety of tactics and materials designed to generate informed feedback, such as presentations of the greenhouse gas emissions inventory results.

First, the Task Force was convened to assess current sustainability work across the District and determine an internal mission, vision, guiding principles, goals, and strategies for the plan. The Task Force met monthly to provide valuable guidance, vetting, and insights into how the strategies might be implemented into existing operations.

Once a structure had been established by the Task Force, DPS convened seven stakeholder groups to discuss with community leaders the content for each of the frameworks: built environment, transportation, resource management, wellness, engagement and environmental justice, and career and curriculum.

The stakeholders included students, teachers, specialists, practitioners, principals, university representatives, City and County of Denver, utility providers, nonprofit organizations, and DPS staff.

Individual informational interviews were also conducted with DPS staff to provide in-depth insight into particular frameworks. These interviews provided an opportunity for staff with deep institutional knowledge to convey their expertise and for the Sustainability Team to develop relationships with pivotal staff who will help advance sustainability goals in their respective departments. As such, individuals whose buy-in is critical for the success of the Climate Action Plan were invited for these in-depth conversations.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 16 THE CREATION OF A CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

To complement the more targeted nature of the interviews and focus groups, the DPS Sustainability Team issued a broad community survey in four languages to capture a wider crosssection of voices in the community.


Perhaps most importantly, the DPS Team focused on collaboration with the students themselves. Students remained heavily involved throughout the planning process and kept an open line of communication with the Sustainability Team.

Spurred by student activism, the Climate Action Plan update process culminated in a Train-the-Trainer workshop developed in conjunction with the consultant team and DPS Students for Climate Action.

Almost 340 respondents completed the survey, providing the Team with valuable data and a deeper understanding of the DPS community’s priorities for sustainability and environmental justice. Quotes from the survey respondents can be found throughout the Climate Action Plan.

The Team modeled this training after a Train-the-Trainer technique in which students co-create a video series that they themselves write, produce, and direct, to inspire other students to join them in climate activism.

17 • No Tag Line, Just Action.


Alongside the Climate Action Plan, a financial impact assessment was completed to provide the District with an understanding of the economic impact of achieving the energy and greenhouse gas emissions goals proposed by DPS Students for Climate Action, which are:

• Use 100% clean electricity by 2030 in accordance with Denver’s 100% Renewable Electricity Action Plan.

• Reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% of the levels of district-wide greenhouse gas emissions that existed in 2010 by 2050, in line with Colorado’s HB191261 Climate Action Plan.

The analysis focused on the costs of significant energy efficiency upgrades, the electrification of buildings, and the achievement of 100% renewable energy by 2030. Key takeaways from these assessments include:

• Energy efficiency, which involves making equipment upgrades and infrastructure retrofits to create

more efficient buildings with more efficient appliances in them, is a key to meeting both the student Climate Action Policy and the State of Colorado Building Performance Standard requirements. While energy efficiency will have the largest impact on reducing carbon emissions, it is also the most expensive of the three strategies analyzed. This is because many of the energy efficiency measures outlined in the facility conditions assessments were deep retrofits addressing both aging infrastructure and increasing equipment efficiency.

• Electrification plays a critical role in achieving decarbonization because of the significant shift towards renewable electricity generation. Partial electrification reduces the natural gas use in a school by 40% on average while minimizing the need to increase the size of the electrical supply and lower ongoing operating costs.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 18 Plan Update Process | THE CREATION OF A CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

• For some system types, such as unit ventilators, an electrification upgrade can be more costeffective than installing the status quo heating and cooling replacement.

• At this time, on-site renewables are necessary to meet the DPS student Climate Action Policy to use 100% clean electricity by 2030. Limited off-site programs currently exist to allow the customer to retain Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Each of these certificates represents proof that one-megawatt hour of actual renewable energy was generated and can be sold and traded. Because renewable energy projects feed clean energy into a shared pool of electricity distributed

by the grid, end users do not know where their energy comes from. RECs are a tool developed to account for and track this, allowing purchasers of the RECs to claim credit for supporting renewable energy.

This financial impact assessment will be used to:

• Guide the prioritization of building electrification efforts as DPS continues to plan for capital needs.

• Guide the five-year goal setting in the Climate Action Plan.

• Inform stakeholders on how to work toward the goals from an economic standpoint in potential future bond cycles.

19 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

DPS Sustainability Team Website

With the shift in narrative from crisis to action, DPS determined that an overhaul of the DPS Sustainability website was necessary to help keep the community informed on updates to the Climate Action Plan and house the results of their data collection and community engagement processes.1

In alignment with the focus on implementation and action, the new website will prioritize data transparency and display easily digestible progress tracking visualizations for the public. New data-driven storytelling tools will

1 For more information see: https://sustainability.dpsk12.org/

be used to attract visitors to the website and highlight the leadership of DPS students in driving this work.

The DPS Team understands the challenge of staying motivated against the existential challenge of climate change; therefore, DPS believes that celebrating progress and highlighting successes through storytelling and data visualizations will play a critical role in the ability to continue involving the community, especially students, in this work. In addition, the website will play a key role in ensuring that DPS is accountable for the goals laid out in the Climate Action Plan.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 20 THE CREATION OF A CLIMATE ACTION PLAN
It sometimes feels like what I’m doing will never be enough. And part of that is true. Like one person isn’t going to be able to change the fate of this planet, of climate change. But I think at the same time, I also do have hope that by working together, we can actually resolve this crisis.*
Gabriel Nagel, East High School senior, co-leader of the DPS Students for Climate Action
* Lauren Sommer, “Coping with Climate Change: Advice for Kids From Kids,” (2022), NPR.

These screenshots of the new website show examples of how visitors can find more information about DPS’ sustainability goals and progress towards achieving them.

21 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 22 THE CREATION OF A CLIMATE ACTION PLAN


Indigenous people have been taking care of the Earth for thousands of years because that is their culture, that is their way of life. For me, being an environmental activist and a climate justice advocate is not a hobby, it’s a way of life.

Xiye Bastida

Mexican Activist, 19 years old

23 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

Embedded in the District’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and increase use of renewable energy is the understanding that these two goals together underpin the world’s top priority and science-backed strategy for combating climate change.

DPS completed a greenhouse gas emissions inventory to ensure that the goals, strategies, and tactics developed through the District’s Climate Action Plan process would be driven by data and scientific estimates of greenhouse gas emissions reduction potential.

DPS completed a greenhouse gas inventory for FY2016 through FY2021. They also backcasted emissions from FY2016 to FY2010 (the District’s chosen baseline year) to better understand trends between FY2010 and FY2021.

To develop the inventory, DPS underwent a rigorous process of data collection, analysis of metrics, and quality assurance/quality control. For more information on the process to create the inventory and the protocol used to complete the inventory, see the Appendix.

Following the completion of the inventory, DPS produced a simple, user-friendly tool to allow the DPS

Sustainability Team to conduct ongoing data management and emissions calculations that will enable the District to continue tracking progress toward its goals in-house.

In FY2021, DPS produced 100,210 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Total emissions in FY2021 are lower than a typical year of DPS activity due to the impacts of COVID-19. Remote work and teaching led to reduced building energy consumption, vehicle fleet use, and employee commuting.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 24

Stationary energy, dominated by the electricity (43%) and natural gas (41%) used to heat and cool buildings, produced the vast majority of DPS’ greenhouse gas emissions (84%) in FY2021.

On-road transportation—which includes cars, buses, and vans—made up 13% of the District’s emissions. The majority of those emissions came from gasoline-fueled vehicles at 11% (including gasoline-fueled vehicles used during employee commutes), followed by diesel-fueled vehicles at 2%. Waste makes up 3% of DPS emissions.

While only a relatively small percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, the waste sector is of great interest to many DPS stakeholders, particularly students. The public interest in waste diversion underscores that although greenhouse gas emissions reductions are one of the most powerful tools for fighting climate change, the District’s environmental footprint as a whole extends beyond these few metrics.

The results of the inventory will help

25 • No Tag Line,
2021 DPS Emissions by Sector + Source Building Energy 84% Electricity 43% Natural Gas 41% Transportation 13% On-Road Gasoline 11% Other On-Road Fuel 2% Waste 3%
This pie chart shows the results of the inventory, split by emissions source and sector.

DPS Business-As-Usual Emissions Projection

Xcel Energy is expected to reach 62% renewable energy by 2030. DPS can accelerate progress to 100% renewable energy by continuing to add on-site renewable generation.

Xcel Energy is expected to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050. Electricity emissions will be 0 for DPS buildings in 2050.

Business-As-Usual Model

Alongside the greenhouse gas emissions inventory, a business-as-usual (BAU) model was developed against which the greenhouse gas emissions reduction potential of proposed strategies and tactics from the plan could be compared. The BAU model projects out to 2050 DPS’ greenhouse gas emissions if they do not take any additional climate action, offering the District another analytical tool to assess its proposed strategies and tactics and gauge progress.

The tool projects that if DPS does not implement any strategies in this Climate Action Plan, its emissions would still be reduced by 51% due to an increasingly

clean electricity grid. DPS benefits from Xcel Energy’s commitment to increase the use of renewable energy, and by pursuing electrification across DPS’ buildings, the District can maximize the benefits of a cleaner electricity grid and dramatically reduce emissions.

Again, the consultant team left the Sustainability Team with an easy-to-use tracking tool to estimate the impact of various strategies and tactics and the relative importance of each sector in achieving the greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 26 GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY RESULTS

Projected Emissions Reductions from All Strategies

Emissions decreased in FY2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

61,371 mt CO2e in 2050 if no action is taken.

Greenhouse Gas Strategy Reduction Model

Lastly, DPS analyzed the emission reductions that could be expected if DPS met all of its Climate Action Plan goals.* All five-year goals were modeled to understand emission reduction potential by 2028. Additionally, 2050 targets were identified for each goal to project progress beyond the five-year goals and toward the District’s final emission reduction goal.

The modeled strategies get DPS to a 97% reduction compared to the 2010 baseline.1 This surpasses our goal to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% by 2050 of the levels of districtwide greenhouse gas emissions that existed in 2010, in line with Colorado’s climate goals (see figure above).

1 DPS completed a greenhouse gas inventory in 2010. This inventory did not account for emissions from several sources included in the FY2016 and FY2021 inventories. These sources were employee commute, business travel, waste, and fertilizer use. Emissions from these excluded sources were backcast from the FY2016 inventory to 2010. DPS’ updated 2010 baseline includes the results of the 2010 inventory plus the backcast emissions.

27 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
3,802 mt CO2e remaining in 2050 if all strategies are implemented, a 97% reduction from 2010. *Goals are detailed in Our Framework in Action.

57% of the expected reductions are due to Xcel Energy reaching 100% renewable energy in 2050. The remaining 40% of emissions reductions are due to DPS action.

With all goals met by 2050, DPS is modeled to have 3,802 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent remaining in 2050. These remaining emissions are created by the sources shown in the pie chart to the right. Emissions from employee commute, waste, and business travel comprise most of these remaining emissions.

Remaining DPS Emissions in 2050

This informs DPS that the Climate Action Plan, if achieved, will reach the 2050 emission reduction goal but additional effort to reduce employee commute, waste, and business travel emissions can be implemented.

Strategies targeting the building energy sector will have the greatest impact on total District emissions. DPS has identified two primary goals for reducing building energy emissions. First, DPS will reduce overall building energy consumption by 15% from FY2021 levels by 2028. Second, DPS will electrify 80%

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 28
Employee Commute 58% Waste 30% Business Travel 11% Other Sources 1%

of the heating load for 10 buildings by 2028. These goals are expected to reduce DPS building energy emissions 10% by 2028.

DPS will continue to work to reduce emissions beyond 2028. To model this future effort, 2050 targets were identified for each of these goals.

The energy consumption goal was modeled to 2050 assuming that DPS will maintain a 15% reduction in energy consumption from FY2021 levels through 2050. Additionally, it was assumed that DPS will continue to electrify buildings and will reach 100% electrification by 2050.

Reducing and removing natural gas and other fossil fuel use from buildings through electrification has the greatest impact on DPS emissions compared to any other modeled strategy.

Emission savings from electrification are dependent on how much renewable energy is used to generate the electricity consumed by buildings. The more renewable energy used to generate the electricity consumed by buildings, the greater the emissions savings from electrification.

If DPS electrifies all buildings by 2050 and Xcel Energy reaches their 2050 goal of 100% renewable energy, DPS

29 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

Projected Emissions Reductions from Building Energy Strategies

Xcel Energy is expected to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050.

building energy emissions will be zero (see figure above). Including emissions reductions from Xcel Energy reaching 100% renewable energy in 2050, the building energy goals will lead to an 83% reduction in DPS emissions compared to 2010 levels.

Strategies to reduce transportation emissions have the next greatest impact on district-wide emissions.

DPS transportation emissions come from three primary sources: the vehicle fleet (buses and other DPS-owned vehicles), employee commute, and business travel. DPS identified goals to

reduce emissions from the vehicle fleet and employee commute. For the vehicle fleet, these goals included electrifying 12% of the yellow fleet (buses) and 7% of the white fleet (all other fleet vehicles) by 2028. Strategies to reduce employee commute emissions include employees taking alternative modes of transportation, adopting electric vehicles, and office-based employees working from home two days per week.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 30 GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY RESULTS
100% reduction in building energy emissions by 2050 from the 2010 baseline.

By 2028, these goals would reduce DPS transportation emissions by 30% from 2010 levels. If fleet electrification and employee commute strategies were expanded through 2050, these strategies would provide an 88% reduction in transportation emissions and an 11% reduction in total DPS emissions from 2010 levels (see figure on opposite page).

Several waste and renewable energy goals were modeled along with the building energy and transportation goals. These goals provide a 1% reduction in emissions by 2028 and 2050. The waste goal includes reaching a 25% diversion rate (25% of waste is recycled or composted) by 2028.

Waste emissions comprise 3% of total FY2021 DPS emissions so this goal has minimal impact on overall emissions.

The goal of reaching 65% renewable energy by 2028 was modeled to have minimal impact on emissions. This is because Xcel Energy is expected to reach 60% renewable energy in 2028 and DPS would only need to generate 5% of their electricity from on-site renewable sources to reach this goal. If Xcel reaches their 100% renewable goal by 2050 then no emissions savings are gained from on-site renewable energy. There are a variety of other benefits for on-site renewable generation that were not included in the model.

31 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

Projected Emissions Reductions from Transportation Strategies

88% reduction in transportation emissions by 2050 from the 2010 baseline.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 32 GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY RESULTS


Look at the news: extreme heat, extreme storms, and extreme weather patterns. The only thing that doesn’t seem extreme is our response.

33 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

To meet the commitments laid out in the Denver Public Schools Climate Action Ends Statement, the District began by organizing its existing work around three concepts—environmental protection, economic prosperity, and social development—and setting goals based on those concepts. Based on the community’s feedback as well as the commitments for which the DPS Students for Climate Action advocated, the Task Force crafted three long-term “North Star” goals for each of the three concepts.

These North Star goals represent what DPS aims to achieve by 2050 and echo the sustainability concept of the Triple Bottom Line.

This concept theorizes that decisionmaking, including climate action, should align with the organization’s social, environmental, and economic goals. Throughout the planning process, DPS adopted the tenets of the Triple Bottom Line concept by evaluating the strategies and tactics against their impact on meeting the North Star goals.

Together, the three North Star goals will influence much of the District’s operations and functions, from facilities to nutrition services to curriculum, and shape the student experience. Environmental protection focuses


Environmental Protection

Reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% by 2050 (from a 2010 baseline).

Economic Prosperity

Reduce natural resources consumption and waste year-over-year.

Social Development

All students and staff are engaged in sustainability by 2050.

largely on achieving greenhouse gas emissions reductions; economic prosperity tackles the conservation of a variety of resources; and social development centers on the student and teacher experience, namely curriculum and career development.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 34

Successful implementation of the Climate Action Plan will hinge on participation and leadership across departments, the interdepartmental collaboration led by the Sustainability Team, and broader DPS community engagement.

35 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
Teamwork and frameworks make the dream work.

Frameworks & Their Focus Areas

The DPS Team created six frameworks that they deemed critical to advancing the District toward those North Star goals.

Each framework contains focus areas as well as specific and measurable goals, strategies, and tactics to direct DPS’ work for the five-year duration of the Climate Action Plan.

To develop the content within each framework, DPS conducted research into successful sustainability strategies, interviewed key DPS staff across departments, and engaged with stakeholder groups.

DPS drafted five-year goals for each framework and organized the supporting strategies and tactics that emerged from the community engagement process into focus areas.

The five-year goals were further vetted with key DPS staff to ensure they felt achievable and actionable for each department.

Like many school districts across the country, DPS faces issues with understaffing and limited resources. With that in mind, the five-year goals were developed in collaboration with department leaders to balance their best approximation of staff capacity and available resources with the shared ambitions of the whole DPS community.

Similarly, the strategies and tactics outlined in the report serve as year-overyear guidance, and the tactics pursued by the District will remain flexible so the DPS Team can respond to technological and/or funding opportunities as they arise.

While the plan’s strategies and tactics will evolve year-over-year to adapt to a rapidly changing technological and funding environment, the North Star goals remain a steady guide for the District’s critical decision-making criteria.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 36 OUR FRAMEWORK
37 • No Tag Line, Just Action. North Star FRAMEWORKS Built Environment Transportation Resource Management • Electrification • Building Envelope • Design Standards • SMART Buildings • Renewables • Grounds • Yellow Fleet • White Fleet • Commuter • Energy Management • Water Conservation • Waste Diversion • Sourcing



• Gardens

• Greenhouses

• Nutrition Services

Engagement + Environmental Justice Career + Curriculum

• Community Engagement & Events

• Eco-Schools Certification

• Environmental Justice

• Sustainability Curriculum

• Career Exploration

• Outdoor Experiences

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 38 OUR FRAMEWORK


The DPS Team designed this framework to guide 5 years of sustainability and climate action work.

5 years can feel like a long time or it can feel like a short time. However, 5 years is a big percentage of a child’s life—so we must act with urgency.

39 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

In five years, Denver Public Schools students will go through formative experiences that shape the adults they will become. This plan will push the District’s climate action to mature as quickly as their students do during their time in school.

At the same time that this plan is adopted, a whole class of kindergartners will enter the District. As the plan goes into effect and is implemented year-after-year, this class of students will experience DPS in an increasingly different light than the classes that came before.



For example, by the time our current kindergartners reach 5th grade, they will go from thinking that “Elvis” (the one electric school bus in operation) is a novelty to electric buses being an everyday experience.

As this plan progresses and the strategies and tactics fall into place, DPS invites the community to stay rooted in the student experience and recall that the entire community helped write this Climate Action Plan for the students and their futures.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 40



Reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% of the levels of districtwide greenhouse gas emissions that existed in 2010 by 2050.


41 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

Greenhouse gas emissions reduction forms the basis of this concept. Included in the scope of Environmental Protection are Built Environment and Transportation, which constitute DPS’ two largestemitting sectors based on the greenhouse gas emissions inventory.


By the time this North Star goal is achieved, the kindergartners entering DPS in 2022 will be in their upper 20s, perhaps with young children themselves.

Their kindergartners will enter a DPS that produces drastically less greenhouse gas emissions than in 2022.

In 2022, kindergartners are entering a school district that already has reduced its emissions by 16% compared to a 2010 baseline.

By the time they are 5th graders, with the successful implementation of this plan, the percent reduction is expected to be 42% by 2028 compared to a 2010 baseline.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 42

Framework: Built Environment

The Built Environment framework includes a range of pathways to address the District’s largest emitting sector of greenhouse gas emissions. The focus areas are:

• Electrification

• Building Envelope

• Design Standards

• SMART Buildings

• Renewable Energy

• Grounds

Across the entire DPS system, the Facilities Management Department operates and maintains over 16 million square feet of enclosed building space, over 226 schools, 177 Denver Public Schools-owned facilities, and 10 administrative facilities.

The average age of these facilities is over 45 years old and 17% can claim historic landmark registration. The entire system sits on just under 2,000 acres.

These statistics make DPS the second largest facility manager in Denver, after the city and county.

By converting appliances and equipment from natural gas to electricity and improving sustainable design guidelines for school facilities, the District will improve air quality and better support student and staff health. The maps on the following pages show where DPS can prioritize efforts to install efficient air conditioning units to address heat stress and where indoor air quality improvements will most improve environmental public health.

Together, these infrastructure upgrades will not only create healthier environments for students but can also improve their focus and academic performance.

43 • No Tag Line, Just Action.


7 hours in school each day

171 days per school year

Students are inside for the majority of those school days, making the built environment and indoor air quality critical public health focuses for the District.

SOURCE: Federal Department of Education

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 44 Built Environment | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION


The HEAT VULNERABILITY SCORE is based on measures of health, demographics, and the built environment.

The higher the score, the more vulnerable the population within that census tract is to the negative impacts of extreme heat. DPS schools with and without air conditioning are shown over the heat vulnerability layer. Schools without air conditioning and in areas with high heat vulnerability are more susceptible to negative impacts of heat.

45 • No Tag Line, Just Action.


AIR QUALITY VULNERABILITY RANKINGS are based on respiratory health data and demographic information.

Tracts with the lowest rankings are the most vulnerable to negative impacts of poor air quality. Several DPS schools have partnered with the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment’s Love My Air program to monitor air quality at schools.

This data will be updated regularly under Environmental Justice on the DPS Sustainability website.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 46 Built Environment | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION




39% of electricity is renewable


152 natural gas facilities




Current guidelines use LEED, WELL, and CHPS for evaluating new developments only


Zero SMART facilities; FDD* in 11 buildings

*Fault Detection & Diagnostics


Herbicides and pesticides used when needed

47 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

2028 5th GRADER


65% of electricity is renewable


Electrify 80% of the heating load for 10 buildings


Commission 2 existing building envelopes; incorporate findings into financial impact assessments


Require Sustainable Design Guidelines to be integrated into all capital improvement decisions


One fully SMART building, costbenefit analysis, & funding plan for more buildings


Sustainable Landscape Standard & Implementation Plan

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 48



To reach 65% renewable electricity by 2028, DPS will implement the strategies below including new design standards to expand on-site rooftop solar, solar shades, and solar canopies.

Other programs to help reach the goal will involve community solar and exploration of other renewable energy options where solar is not feasible.

Currently, 47 DPS schools have solar on their buildings (see figure to the right).

Xcel Energy is expected to reach 60% renewable energy by 2028. The District will need to generate 5% of total electricity consumed by the District to reach the 2028 goal.

If Xcel Energy reaches 60% renewable energy by 2028, the District will experience a 63% decrease in electricity emissions. When the District generates the remaining 5% of electricity to meet the 2028 goal, electricity emissions will decrease an additional 1% (based on 2010 emissions).


• Work with partners to invest in localized production of green energy.

• Release Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for solar applications including solar shades and solar canopies.

• Implement a PV construction standard appropriate for DPS needs and build to this standard.

• Increase on-site renewable energy through sustained funding.

49 • No Tag Line, Just Action.


The map above shows DPS buildings with on-site solar. In total, solar panels at these schools produce roughly 10% of the electricity consumed by DPS. To see live electricity generation from solar panels at each school, visit the DPS Sustainability website and click on the sun icons. Data on DPS on-site solar will be updated regularly under Built Environment on the DPS Sustainability website.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 50



Beneficial electrification, which the strategies below focus on, will reduce (and eventually eliminate) the use of natural gas, propane, and diesel as an energy source for DPS buildings, simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs.

Electrifying some of the building sector’s most energy-intensive applications, such as heating and cooling will dramatically reduce emissions and improve indoor air quality through energy efficiency and cleaner power.

These strategies will also put DPS on the path to ensure new builds and major renovations will rely on all-electric power.


When the 2028 electrification goal is achieved, the District will experience a 1% decrease in building energy emissions (based on 2010 emissions).

DPS’ goal to electrify 80% of the heating load for 10 buildings by 2028 will have a minor impact on baseline emissions. As more buildings are electrified beyond 2028, and the electricity grid becomes cleaner, the impact of electrification will grow significantly through 2050.

Of all of the strategies and tactics, electrification will have the largest impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 for DPS.

• Prioritize electrification projects.

• Secure funding for incremental costs.

• Track emerging electrification/decarbonization trends, legislation, and funding opportunities.

• Influence city and state policies to promote higher efficiency standards.

51 • No Tag Line, Just Action.


The building envelope is the barrier between the inside and outside environments, including the exterior walls, insulation, drywall, and more. The following strategy is meant to ensure that every school has a well-designed building envelope to keep heat in during the winter and heat out during the summer. By identifying leaks and utilizing emerging technologies, DPS school buildings can achieve efficient energy usage and reduce waste.


The following strategy will ensure that the new construction and renovations will use new design standards that incorporate both existing and emerging technologies and sustainability requirements. These standards will establish baseline criteria for efficiency and will incorporate the electrification and building envelope projects as well.


• Educate the DPS community about window and door use and their impact on HVAC.


• Ensure ongoing education is happening during new builds/renovation projects.

• Develop and publish Sustainable Design Guidelines.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 52



A SMART building includes the installation and maintenance of building technology systems to ensure actionable information is provided to DPS facility managers including, but not limited to, power management, HVAC control, lighting control, and the general comfort level in buildings.

When properly programmed and installed, these technologies can reduce energy consumption by automating real-time adjustments to building functions. The International Energy Agency estimates that SMART building technologies can reduce energy use by as much as 10%.1


• Utilize the SMART buildings program to maximize efficiency efforts prior to building electrification.

• Educate the community on SMART buildings (what they are, what it means, etc.) and increase community engagement with SMART buildings.

1 https://www.iea.org/reports/digitalisation-and-energy

53 • No Tag Line, Just Action.


School and other DPS grounds offer the District a unique opportunity to actively benefit the local community and model sustainable practices for visitors. While typically only the students, teachers, and DPS staff will directly feel the changes from other aspects of the Climate Action Plan, the general DPS community can enjoy and take pride in the sustainably managed grounds.

The following strategies focus on identifying and utilizing sustainable alternatives to fertilizer and pesticides and increasing the tree canopy, with a focus on schools in neighborhoods with a low percentage of tree canopy coverage (see figure on following page).


Ensuring equitable distribution of urban tree canopy coverage is a widespread environmental justice issue, with wealthier, whiter neighborhoods claiming larger percentages of a given city’s tree canopy than low-income communities and communities of color. Schools in the latter communities can play an important role as a resource and social hub. DPS’ prioritization of these schools for tree plantings and water-wise landscaping will strengthen the health and resilience of the larger community beyond just the students in attendance.

• Minimize purchases of herbicides.

• Provide education on organic fertilizer.

• Ensure school grounds landscaping integrates xeriscaping and other water-efficient landscaping best practices.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 54


Tree cover helps keep temperatures cool during heat waves and reduces the need for air conditioning during summer months. Dark green areas in the map below indicate dense tree cover. Schools in neighborhoods with dense tree cover may be less vulnerable to the impacts of extreme heat and use less energy to keep buildings cool. For more information and to reference the most current data, see Built Environment on the DPS Sustainability website.

55 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 56 Built Environment | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Framework: Transportation

The Transportation framework encompasses the following focus areas:

• Yellow Fleet (school buses)

• White Fleet (motor pools, vans, and other district vehicles)

• Commuter Strategies (student, teacher, and staff commutes)

Currently, the District maintains a fleet of 385 yellow buses, and each bus is kept for an average age of 11 years. An estimated 20,825 students ride the District’s buses per day, traveling 17,091 miles over 977 route segments.

The District also operates specialty transportation services for special education students, multilingual education students, and students living in the Far and Near Northeast regions.

The white fleet includes 44 schoolowned buses, 351 support vehicles and trailers, and 49 other vehicles. In addition, the District maintains a relationship with the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to provide free passes or reduced fare passes to eligible high school students and reduced fare ticket books for schools to distribute to any students who may need a ride to and/or from school.

In 2021, the City and County of Denver developed a five-year Safe Routes to School Action Plan roadmap aimed at improving pedestrian safety and increasing the number of students and caregivers that walk, bike, and roll to school.

The Safe Routes to School Action Plan seeks to double the rate of students walking, biking, and rolling to school by 2026. DPS plans to collaborate with the City and County of Denver to achieve similar goals.

While the transition to electric buses and the promotion of safer active commutes to school will reduce the District’s greenhouse gas emissions, the resulting air quality improvements are perhaps just as, if not more, significant.

57 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

Zero-emission electric buses do not produce diesel exhaust, thereby decreasing air pollution and groundlevel ozone. Air pollution and ozone both contribute heavily to air qualityrelated illnesses, incidents of asthma, and asthma attacks in the local communities.

How Denver Students Get to School


67% are driven to school

14% use yellow buses

4% use public transit

Moreover, the District estimates that each electric bus will save more than $30,000 dollars in fuel costs and $30,000 dollars in maintenance costs over the next 15 years.1 With existing grant funding and incentives, electric buses will also cost the District less upfront than a new diesel bus.

14% use active commutes

• 13% walk to school

• 1% bike to school

SOURCE: The Road to School: How Far Students Travel to School in the Choice-Rich Cities of Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, DC, Urban Institute Student Transportation Working Group, March 2018, https://www.urban.org/sites/ default/files/publication/97151/the_road_to_ school_7.pdf. Note that 2% of survey respondents did not answer the question of how they got to school.

Having access to RTD at an affordable rate is huge! The free month of RTD [Aug. 2022’s Zero Fare for Better Air] has allowed me to bike/train to work every day, and I see other staff AND students utilizing [its services too]. There are too many cars in Denver; if we can get teachers/families to use public transport that would have a huge impact on our emissions and air quality. Cost is a HUGE barrier to accessing RTD.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 58 Transportation | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
1 CBS Colorado, “Electric Buses Join the Fleet for Denver Public Schools,” (2021). DPS Survey Respondent




One electric bus



Zero electric vehicles


Unknown patterns

The following sections present strategies and tactics planned over the next five years that will move the needle towards realizing the North Star Goal of “Reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% of the levels of district-wide greenhouse gas emissions that existed in 2010 by 2050.”

59 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

2028 5th GRADER


12% of buses are zero “tailpipe” emissions


7% of vehicles are zero “tailpipe” emissions


Incentive program to increase alternative modes of transportation to DPS locations

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 60 Transportation | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION


The following strategies will be integrated into the District’s “Yellow Fleet” procurement strategy. DPS will focus on transitioning to electric school buses and charging infrastructure as well as efforts to reduce ground-level pollution.


When the yellow fleet’s 2028 goal is achieved, the District will experience a 4% reduction in total fleet emissions (based on 2010 emissions).

• Procure electric buses and charging infrastructure.

• Adopt and implement the Long Term Fleet Plan with a focus on reducing ground-level air pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


The following green mobility strategies will be integrated into the District’s “White Fleet” procurement strategy. Vehicles will be replaced with electric counterparts, and jobs and routes will be optimized for efficiency.


When the white fleet’s 2028 goal is achieved, the District will experience a 2% reduction in total fleet emissions (based on 2010 emissions).

• Adopt and implement the long-term white fleet electrification plan.

• Increase white fleet efficiency and reduce emissions.

61 • No Tag Line, Just Action.


The following strategies will support alternate modes of transportation to and from schools and reduce harmful emissions from fossil-fuel vehicles. These modes include public transportation through partnerships with RTD, enhancement of bike lanes and bike routes around schools, improved walking infrastructure, and an incentive program for participation.


When the 2028 commuter goals are achieved, the District will experience an 18% reduction in transportation emissions (based on 2010 emissions).

• Educate staff and students on bicycle and walking safety and safe route planning.

• Reduce the number of contract services by 10%.

• Finalize RTD deal for students and employees.

• Utilize incentives to encourage staff to minimize use of singleoccupancy vehicles (SOVs).

• Enforce a no-idling policy.

• Improve biking and walking infrastructure near schools.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 62 Transportation | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION



Reduce natural resource consumption and waste year-over-year.


63 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

Beyond greenhouse gas emissions reductions, DPS students will integrate sustainability as a core value of the District and as a key factor in decision-making processes.

By making sustainability a core value, DPS aims to approach the following frameworks with innovation and creativity toward resource conservation.

Environmental responsibility is also fiscal responsibility. This approach recognizes the economic value of climate action, chiefly the money that the District will save by reducing its resource consumption. From this broad directive, the District sharpened its focus on tangible and measurable natural resources management, with specific, targeted strategies and tactics to reduce resource consumption.


In 2022, kindergartners are going to schools that have worked hard to reduce their consumption of energy, water, and materials like paper. By the time they are 5th graders in 2028, their schools are expected to be 15% more energy efficient, use 15% less water, and recycle and compost 7% more compared to the prior fiscal year.

In addition, DPS’ gardens will have expanded and grown to 100 active gardens that produce 100 pounds or more of harvest easy year. The Glenbrook Greenhouse complex will reduce the demand for commercially

produced tomatoes for the entire district by 50%.

Lastly, each child will learn more about nutrition through the creation of a comprehensive nutrition education plan that is used at 100% of schools for all grade levels.

In 2050, every DPS student will be going to school in an incredibly water and energy-efficient building and will learn about nutrition, urban farming, waste diversion, and more as they eat vegetables grown straight from their own school gardens.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 64

Framework: Resource Management

The Resource Management framework encompasses a broad set of focus areas including Energy, Water, Waste, and Sourcing.

Separate from the Built Environment and Transportation Frameworks, Resource Management hones in on benchmarking and tracking the resources being used, while saving money.

Water resource strategies are split between indoor and outdoor uses and highlight partnership opportunities. Waste diversion aims to reroute items from the landfill by expanding recycling, composting, and reuse programs.

Reusing school supplies will save the District money by reducing the supplies purchased for each school year, demonstrating again the economic value of sustainability strategies. On the other hand, when DPS needs to purchase new items, the Sourcing focus area tackles procurement and the shift to prioritizing low-carbon, sustainable materials.

These purchasing decisions can serve as

an opportunity to express the District’s climate values and guide others, from the rest of the DPS community to the other school districts in the state and country towards more responsible, sustainable decisions.



1,022,609 MMBtu* prior fiscal year

*Million British Thermal


483,891,000 gallons fiscal year


17% recycled, 1%

Note: This data is considered


No Environmentally-Preferable Procurement Policy

65 • No Tag Line, Just Action.


MMBtu* of fuel used in year


2028 5th GRADER


Consumption reduced by 15% from 2021 baseline



gallons used in prior DIVERSION

1% composted

Thermal Units considered low quality.

Environmentally-Preferable Policy

Consumption reduced by 15% from 2021 baseline


Ensure minimum 25% landfill diversion rate


Embed sustainable practices in all procurement policies including end-of-life planning

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 66 Resource Management | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION



DPS has already taken drastic steps towards reducing its energy use in buildings. In FY2022, electricity usage decreased by 11% from the average of FY2017-FY2019, and natural gas consumption use decreased by 2%.

When the Resource Management 2028 goal is achieved, the District will experience a 9% reduction in building energy emissions (based on 2010 emissions).

Unlike the Built Environment strategies, these strategies focus on how buildings are being used and operated (not their infrastructure). The following strategies are focused on reducing energy consumption through building tuning and optimization, data tracking, and education of building occupants.


• Provide learning opportunities and best practices to building staff and students.

• Create a process to track energy efficiency improvements and energy use.

• Decrease energy consumption with tuning and optimization.

67 • No Tag Line, Just Action.



Water is and will remain a defining sign of climate change in Denver. As droughts become more frequent, water conservation will play an increasingly important part in the day-to-day function of DPS. Water use in FY2022 increased by 14% over the average usage in fiscal years 2017-2019, making the need for water efficiency all the more important.


The following strategies focus on both outdoor solutions (i.e. using smart sprinkler controls, ensuring sprinklers are functioning properly, and replacing playfields with artificial turf) and indoor solutions (i.e. educating students and staff about water use and using highefficiency fixtures and appliances) to reach the 15% reduction in water consumption goal in five years.

• Fully understand the amount of water being used at each DPS facility and for what (indoor vs outdoor water use).

• Increase smart/weather-based controller systems at schools with high irrigation consumption.

• Address water use in outdoor spaces.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 68



Waste is an incredibly important topic to the DPS community. In the community survey’s free response sections, the community’s most common concerns centered on the amount of waste produced by DPS schools from single-use plastics to packaged foods in cafeterias to the purchase of new school supplies every year—and the accompanying need to improve the District’s recycling and composting rates. The following strategies look to address these concerns.


When the 2028 waste diversion goal is achieved the District will experience an 8% reduction in waste emissions (based on 2010 emissions).

• Implement composting services and infrastructure.

• Find a waste hauler to help with compost hauling services.

• Ensure staff, paraprofessionals, students, and support staff are trained on waste diversion best practices.

• Ensure DPS has high-quality waste data.

69 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
I definitely want to see recycling stations at the schools and make sure that the plates and utensils and things being used for breakfast and lunches are biodegradable materials and sustainable.
DPS Survey Respondent


Similar products can have vastly different environmental impacts depending on how they are made and where and what they are sourced from. Environmentally-friendly purchasing will be the driving factor behind all types of product purchases, from copy paper to fertilizers. Factoring in the length of product lifecycles will also help meet sustainability goals.


• Develop and implement an environmentally-preferable purchasing policy for DPS.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 70 STRATEGIES Resource Management | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Framework: Wellness

The Wellness framework encompasses the following focus areas:

• Gardens

• Greenhouses

DPS leads the nation in the wellness framework as one of the first school districts to open its own greenhouse. This plan outlines DPS’ goals of expanding its existing garden and greenhouse operations and focusing on local sourcing of school meals.

DPS’ Food and Nutrition Services Department (DPS Food Services) plays an essential role in feeding Denver’s youth. For the 2022-2023 school year, DPS pledged to provide


31,603 breakfasts

44,984 lunches

9,117 snacks

CULMINATING ANNUALLY IN 5.3 mil breakfasts

7.6 mil lunches ~1.4 mil snacks

For more information see: https://www.dpsk12.org/about/facts-figures/#meals

• Nutrition

free breakfast to all students, regardless of benefit status, and the 2022 summer session included free weekday meals for certain locations. In November 2022, Colorado voters approved a ballot measure to provide free meals for all public school students, increasing the impact DPS Food Services will play on the health of Denver youth.

The Denver School Garden Coalition, including several community partners and DPS Food Services, work together with schools to establish gardens and associated educational programs.

One such program, Garden to Cafeteria, has offered students in over a dozen schools the opportunity to produce for 12 growing seasons. In the 20192020 school year, the program sold over 900 pounds of vegetables to DPS Food Services. The Urban Farm initiative launched in 2011 and now operates on two school sites under the guidance of Farmer James, hired by DPS to manage the project. In the 2021-2022 school

71 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

year, volunteers helped Farmer James harvest more than 8,000 pounds of produce, serving the produce to schools across the District.

In 2022, the District operated 120 urban gardens, with four more

in the works including two food forests that are permaculture systems designed to produce food. These systems combine trees, shrubs, small perennial and companion plants together to create a mini ecosystem.

These gardens provide fresh food and outdoor learning experiences for students. For more details on specific gardens and contact information for garden leaders, see DPS’ Sustainability website and click on the vegetable icons. This data will be updated regularly under Wellness on the DPS Sustainability website.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 72 Wellness | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION




50% of gardens produce 50 pounds or more annually


Glenbrook Greenhouse built


Unknown baseline

73 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

Food waste is a huge problem in schools. Besides buying more sustainable food and food service items, DPS should educate students on where food comes from—and the energy used/pollution or other waste that is part of the food production—so that they understand throwing away a tray of food isn’t just wasting food, it’s hurting the community and the climate.

2028 5th GRADER


100 gardens produce 100 pounds or more annually


50% of tomatoes consumed are produced by Glenbrook Greenhouse rather than commercially purchased


Comprehensive nutrition education plan used at 100% of schools for all grade levels

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 74 Wellness | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
DPS Survey Respondent



With a program managing nearly 61 active gardens, DPS leverages its unique focus on gardens to connect its community with nature and nutritious food.

By introducing students to agricultural and local food systems, DPS works to equip its students with the nutritional, physical, and mental health tools for a healthy holistic adulthood.

The following strategies are meant to ensure students receive handson experience learning about the environment, sustainability, how food is grown, healthy eating, and the mental health benefits of being outside.


• Secure ongoing funding and partnerships.

• Update the garden manual.

• Ensure all schools, including those without outdoor growing spaces, have access to gardens.

75 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
Wonder is the antidote to apathy. Gardens spark wonder of the natural world and provide sanctuaries for our students and community.
Woodburn, the DPS “Garden Guy”


The five-acre Glenbrook Greenhouse will produce fresh produce for DPS students. Initially, it will focus on growing cherry and slicing tomatoes. In future years, DPS hopes to add leafy greens, peppers, cucumbers, and strawberries, and potentially launch a program to create urban agriculture opportunities for high school students.


Everyday Food & Nutrition Services feeds thousands of students so they are fueled to learn. A department whose work is never finished, Food & Nutrition Services provides breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Each meal is produced with care to ensure it meets Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act nutritional requirements, while using the freshest ingredients possible. The strategies encourage the increase of seasonal and locally-sourced food that is sustainably produced.


• Year-round harvesting with year-over-year greater yields.


• Reduce food waste.

• Increase food recovery.

• Reduce the environmental impact of food utilized by Food & Nutrition Services.

• Support farm-to-school ingredient efforts and incorporate food grown in school gardens into cafeteria meals.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 76



All students and staff are engaged in sustainability.


77 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

DPS bears a responsibility to prepare its students for a future shaped indelibly by climate change, and that means ensuring students leave DPS well-versed in sustainability and a green economy.

This includes the way the District approaches community engagement around sustainability, integrates environmental justice into each school, develops curriculum, and exposes students to different career opportunities.


In 2022, kindergartners may attend Earth Day events and explore the outdoors through school field trips.

With the successful implementation of this plan, as 5th graders, these students will be attending schools with quarterly sustainability events, action-based environmental justice pledges, and outdoor learning spaces.

By the time this North Star goal is achieved, the kindergartners entering DPS in 2022 will be in their upper 20s, perhaps with young children themselves. Their kindergartners will enter a DPS immersed in and built around sustainability.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 78

Framework: Engagement & Environmental Justice

Historically at the District, engagement around equity, racial justice, and inclusion has existed in separate initiatives and departments.

In 2016, a report detailing the experience of Black educators and the institutionalized racism in Denver Public Schools was published, spurring a comprehensive effort to promote equity for Black, Indigenous, and other students and staff of color.

The Equity and Engagement Division has grown to include a Culture, Equity, and Leadership Team; Native American Culture and Education; Student Equity and Opportunity; and other efforts to engage students and families.



Sustainability Team intermittently hosts events and supports Community Partnerships


1 school partially


Low-income families renewable energy District’s partnership City and County of community solar

79 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
The two biggest impacts on climate change would be [educating] a generation of students to be advocates in their careers and focusing the political and financial capital of DPS on making Denver more sustainable.
DPS Survey Respondent



2028 5th GRADER


Team hosts Earth Day supports Garden Partnerships




families offered energy from the partnership with the of Denver’s garden program


1 district-wide sustainability event per quarter


25 schools have and maintain certification


100% of schools have an action-based pledge toward continuously addressing environmental justice

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 80 Engagement & Environmental Justice | SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT



DPS works throughout the year to celebrate the sustainability progress made and increase the sustainability know-how of the DPS community. With these strategies, DPS will create an “Earth Month” with climate action activities and support science fairs that encourage environmental and sustainability themes to keep focus and excitement high and expose students to careers in the green economy.


• Use communication outlets to increase awareness of the Sustainability Team and initiatives.

• Continuously engage staff.

• Increase the number and quality of sustainability events.


There are many eco-certification programs out there that DPS intends to research and participate in. Ecocertification helps create a framework to support the DPS community and ensure all aspects of sustainability are met. The following strategies help encourage these eco-certifications and generate a call-to-action that harnesses everyone in the school to work towards environmentally-friendly actions.


• Communicate the social, environmental, and fiscal benefits of green teamwork (including messaging around reducing power consumption).

• Use the strategic plan to distinguish what schools will make the most impact with eco-certification.

81 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

2023-2024 STRATEGIES


Through these strategies, DPS will ensure that environmental justice is built into every aspect of the Climate Action Plan while identifying and prioritizing places and groups that can best benefit from sustainability improvements.


• Help connect the dots of sustainability and environmental justice.

• Engage DPS leadership and staff in environmental justice work.

• Support and empower students to engage in sustainability and environmental justice.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 82
Engagement & Environmental Justice | SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Framework: Career & Curriculum

To prepare students for a world shaped by climate change, DPS is working to integrate sustainability into school curriculum across grade levels and connect students to careers in the ever-changing green economy.

Sustainability education intersects with every subject: literacy, biology, earth science, geometry, art, engineering, nutrition, food justice, physical education, yoga, math, social justice, civics, performance, graphic arts, and beyond.

Through the following strategies and goals, the Climate Action Plan hopes to ensure all DPS students, staff, and teachers have a strong foundation of sustainability education.




Earth science curriculum taught in K-12 classrooms gives students learning experiences connected climate change


District hosts 8th fair, Middle School Day including SPARK exploration, and tables


100% of elementary students go on outdoor or camps at least

We have enough people who care about sustainability that we could develop a district-wide STEAM teachers, 4th grade teachers as part of Colorado history/present day, Gifted of their ALPs*, make it part of projects in our IB** programs, develop a rubric for schools Sustainability Champions at each school or for each region who brainstorm other

DPS Survey Respondent

*Advanced Learning Plans

**International Baccalaureate

83 • No Tag Line, Just Action.


SUSTAINABILITY curriculum classrooms learning connected to


grade career

School Career

SPARK career tables of careers


elementary school outdoor field trips once


2028 5th GRADER



STUDENTS: 100% of schools have at least 1 annual sustainability project-based learning opportunity

STAFF: 50% of science teachers participate in an annual professional development on climate and sustainability


20% or more of students participating in work-based learning will engage in activities that promote sustainability careers


100% of schools incorporate an outdoor learning space

district-wide curriculum to share at various grade levels—use student ideas, Gifted + Talented teachers to develop sustainability projects with students as part schools to use to determine their sustainability quotient (not a dashboard), have other ways their schools can educate the community about living more sustainably.


Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 84 Career & Curriculum | SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT



DPS has already integrated sustainability into much of its curriculum. These strategies help teachers further build sustainability into the curriculum and ensure that environmental justice is front and center.


• Ensure staff understand and follow best practices for sustainable building use.

• Collaborate with the DPS Equity Team to ensure environmental justice is appropriately addressed in all sustainability programs.

• Support teachers and staff in their education around sustainability.


Through these strategies, DPS students will find increased availability of sustainability-based career opportunities. These opportunities will come from career and technical education programs, internship availability, and career partnerships.

Career fairs will feature sustainability options along with mobile fairs to ensure younger students are aware of available career paths in sustainability. Allowing students to explore careers and

technical learning in sustainability areas ensures sustainability exists beyond the classroom.


• Build out recurring internships with partners.

• Ensure sustainability careers are a part of career exploration curriculum.

• Increase awareness of sustainability careers at District career fairs.

85 • No Tag Line, Just Action.


An outdoor classroom can simply be a place for learning on school grounds without a roof or walls, or it can be a dedicated safe space in the mountains, a park, or a nature center.

Outdoor experiences provide students with the opportunity to interact and connect with nature and the subjects they are learning about, as well as provide a larger worldview, all while getting fresh air.

Through these strategies, students will be presented with many options for outdoor learning to enrich their curriculum.


• Create and implement a field trip strategy with curriculum teams to make time for students away from classrooms.

• Keep outdoor green spaces cool.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 86 STRATEGIES
Career & Curriculum | SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

What Now?

By design, this plan will impact every department, every classroom, and every member of the Denver Public School community.


To accomplish the bold goals set by this Climate Action Plan, everyone must act now and act together. There is no time left for empty promises or meaningless gestures.

DPS cannot succeed without the community taking ownership of the plan and actively engaging with this work. Ultimately, the students are the North Star and moral compass at DPS. They have shown the entire DPS community what it means to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

DPS understands that it bears a special responsibility to act and address climate change. Students at DPS enter the public education system with the expectation

that their schools will open their eyes, expand their horizons, and lead them toward a bigger, brighter future. DPS is creating a better future for its students by taking ambitious steps to slow the advance of climate change and address the inequities entrenched in the District’s systems.

To implement the sweeping systems-wide changes necessary to meet the five-year and North Star goals, DPS must draw on partnerships and collaborations across departments, schools, and the broader community.

For example, Facilities and Procurement must work together to integrate highefficiency electric heating and cooling equipment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Similarly, Nutrition Services must work

87 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

with the garden staff and community groups to ensure school meals incorporate locally-sourced ingredients.

The DPS Sustainability Team will serve as a connector and hub for interdepartmental action and community engagement.

Tracking progress toward goals and celebrating wins will play an important role in keeping the community engaged, motivated, and hopeful throughout this difficult work. As DPS embarks on this work, the Sustainability Team website will monitor the headway made toward the goals and strategies in each framework and focus area.

The Sustainability Team will aggregate data from across the District, simultaneously reminding staff and stakeholders of the goals and obtaining the information necessary to gauge DPS’

progress and ensure everything keeps moving toward completion.

We all have a responsibility to address climate change. DPS invites the community to visit and revisit the website, attend board meetings to voice support, and attend Districtwide sustainability events to help the District recognize achievements and contributions to the momentum that will carry DPS to its North Star goals.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 88
We felt as though we had a responsibility to do something about it. So, we did.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez
Climate Activist, Coloradan, 22 years old
Our students said it best: “NO TAGLINE. JUST ACTION.”


• Roger Doris, Building Optimization Specialist

• LeeAnn (Westfall) Kittle, Director of Sustainability

• Darel Leedy, Building Optimization and Controls Supervisor

• Thomas Riggle, School Programs Sustainability Manager

• Brian Slota, Building Optimization Specialist

• Lindsay Weber, Senior Analyst

• Adam West, Project and Energy Efficiency Specialist

• Chris Woodburn, Program Specialist - Gardens

89 • No Tag Line, Just Action.
DPS Sustainability Team

Task Force

• Rich Archuletta, Facility Management

• Heather Bock, Planning, Design & Construction

• Lex Christenson, Training and Employee Development

• Staci Crum, Financial Services

• Troy Garner, Planning, Design & Construction

• Theresa Hafner, Food & Nutrition Services

• Leslie Juniel, Culture, Equity & Leadership Team

• LeeAnn Kittle, Sustainability

• Trena Marsal, Facility Management

• Yolanda Ortega, Strategic Operations

• Kimberly Owen, Financial Services

• Albert Samora, Transportation Services

• Traci Sanchez, Career and Technical Education

• Monica Schultz, Career Exploration

• Anne Weber, Planning, Design & Construction

• Beth Vinson, Curriculum and Instruction


Throughout the process, we were lucky to have dozens of stakeholders from many areas of the community provide insight, support, applicable ideas, and invaluable feedback on the Climate Action Plan. Many thanks to each and every one of the stakeholders for their passion, time, and commitment to moving this important work forward.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 90

DPS Staff

DPS Staff provided endless enthusiasm and ideas on how to meet the aggressive goals laid out in the Climate Action Plan. Without their support, the Climate Action Plan would not have happened, nor would it be possible.

Students for Climate Action

• Caroline Brown

• Farah Djama

• Amelia Fernández Rodríguez

• Eleanor Goldstein

• Layla Jurow

• Maya Kitei

• Molly Malek

• Gabriel Nagel

• Mariah Rosensweig

Consultant Team

• Lotus Engineering and Sustainability, LLC

• 4th Wall Facilitation

• Defenestrate

91 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

Greenhouse Gas Inventory

DPS hired Lotus Engineering and Sustainability, LLC (Lotus) to create FY2016 and FY2021 greenhouse gas emissions inventories for districtwide operations. The greenhouse gas emissions inventories will help DPS track emissions reductions from the District’s climate action work.

Lotus developed a customized greenhouse gas emissions inventory spreadsheet for both inventory fiscal years (2016 and 2021). These spreadsheets are used to store data, emission factors, contacts, assumptions, and calculations. Greenhouse gas emissions for FY2017 through FY2020

Inventory Details

DPS’ fiscal year runs from July 1 – June 30. The FY2016 inventory includes data from July 2015 – June 2016, and the FY2021 inventory includes data from July 2020 – June 2021. FY2016 was selected as it represents the earliest

were also calculated in a separate spreadsheet.

All inventories were developed in compliance with The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard.1 Methodology detailed in the next section reflects the 2016 and 2021 inventories. Methodologies for the interim fiscal year inventories (2017-2020) are identical. The time range, boundary, included sources, and calculation methodologies for the inventories are described in the following pages.

1 https://ghgprotocol.org/corporate-standard

year that DPS was confident in the quality of the energy data used in the inventory. FY2021 was selected to understand current state emissions and progress from the 2010 baseline and the 2016 inventory. FY2021 was partially

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 92 Appendix

impacted by pandemic operations due to COVID-19 and likely does not represent emissions in a typical DPS year.

Together, these inventories allow DPS to track progress from its 2010 baseline and understand changes in emissions from inventories that use similar data. Where possible, all collected activity data fell between the dates of the fiscal years.

If fiscal year data was not available, calendar year data was used instead or adjusted to represent a fiscal year. Notes documenting which sources used calendar year data are included in each inventory spreadsheet.

All activities over which DPS can make operational decisions are included in the inventories. This includes all building energy, vehicle fleet, and waste sources.

Additionally, emissions from business travel, employee commuting, and several consumption-based sources were included. The table on the top right lists all sectors and sources included in the inventories along with the scope and data source for each source.

organizational indicators and renewable energy generation were also collected.

The table on the bottom right lists the data sources for these contextual data.

In addition to the emissions sources identified, contextual data including

93 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

Sectors, Sources, and Data Included in the GHG Inventories

*DPS only reported purchases of R-22 refrigerant. This refrigerant is considered an information-only item and is not included in emission totals.

Organization Indicator Data Sources

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 94 Greenhouse Gas Inventory | APPENDIX

Emissions Calculation Methodology

Building Energy

Building energy emissions sources included in the inventory were electricity, natural gas, propane, and stationary diesel. Electricity generated through on-site solar was not included in the final inventory total, so this information is provided as an information-only item.

Electricity and natural gas data were downloaded for each fiscal year from DPS’ energy data management software, Energy Manager. Emissions from electricity and natural gas were calculated for each building and for all DPS facilities. DPS receives all electricity not produced on-site from Xcel Energy. Natural gas is provided to DPS through Xcel Energy’s infrastructure. Electricity carbon dioxide (CO2) emission factors for Xcel Energy were collected from Xcel’s Community Energy Reports for the City of Denver.

Community Energy Reports for 2016 and 2021 were used to gather emission factors for the FY2016 and FY2021 inventories. The inventories include electricity consumption from parts of

2015 and 2020; it was assumed that Xcel’s 2016 and 2021 emission factors were reasonable representations of electricity emission rates for the entire fiscal year of each inventory.

Propane data were provided as the total number of propane canisters purchased during each fiscal year. The standard volume in gallons of a propane canister was used to estimate the total gallons of propane purchased by DPS in each fiscal year.

Invoices for the refueling of diesel generators were used to estimate total stationary diesel used by DPS. Invoices were only available for FY2021. It was assumed that diesel generator fuel usage was the same for the FY2016 inventory.

For each fiscal year, emissions from electricity and natural gas were calculated for each DPS building and summed overall. Propane and stationary diesel emissions were calculated for DPS overall as data was not available at the building level.

95 • No Tag Line, Just Action.


Transportation emissions were calculated for the DPS yellow fleet (buses) and white fleet (all other DPSowned vehicles), business travel, and

Vehicle Fleet

The DPS Transportation Department provided a list of all white fleet vehicles and the total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) split by the white fleet and yellow fleet. Total gasoline and diesel fuel consumption across both the white and yellow fleet was also provided. These data were provided for all fiscal years from 2016 through 2021.

Vehicle emissions are calculated with different emission factors for each fuel type (gasoline and diesel) and vehicle type (passenger, light-duty, and heavy-duty). To accurately calculate greenhouse gas emissions for the white fleet, total white fleet VMT and fuel

employee commute. Methodologies for each of these sources are described below.

consumption were split and attributed to each vehicle in the white fleet.

This process was completed by assigning each vehicle in the fleet list a vehicle type based on each vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). EPA vehicle type classifications based on the GVWR were used to classify each vehicle as passenger, light-duty, or heavy-duty.1 The fleet list included which vehicles used gasoline or diesel. All fleet vehicles were summarized by fuel and vehicle type (see table below).

1 https://www.epa.gov/emission-standards-reference-guide/vehicle-weight-classifications-emission-standards-reference

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 96 Greenhouse Gas Inventory | APPENDIX
White Fleet Vehicle and Fuel Types

The percentage of each fuel and vehicle type combination was used to attribute total white fleet VMT to each fuel and vehicle type combination (e.g., there were 312 total white fleet vehicles, 145 of which were gasoline passenger vehicles. Total white fleet VMT was multiplied by 145/312 to estimate VMT from gasoline passenger vehicles). As no vehicle-specific data were provided, this method assumes that each vehicle was driven the same amount within a fiscal year.

Gallons of fuel consumed were calculated using fuel efficiencies for each fuel and vehicle type taken from the EPA State Inventory Tool.1 Fuel

1 https://www.epa.gov/statelocalenergy/ state-inventory-and-projection-tool

Business Travel

Business travel emissions include emissions from reimbursed on-road travel (business travel driven by employees in their personal vehicles that does not include commuting or travel in DPS-owned vehicles), air travel, rental cars, rideshare, and charter buses.

For reimbursed mileage, no data was available for the actual mileage driven for business purposes by employees. Instead, the total dollars reimbursed

consumption was provided for both the yellow and white fleet combined. All remaining fuel after calculating fuel consumed by the white fleet was assumed to be used by the yellow fleet. Fuel consumption and VMT for each fuel and vehicle type were then used to calculate white fleet emissions. It was assumed that gasoline used by DPS contained 10% ethanol and diesel contained 0% biodiesel.

Yellow fleet emissions were calculated based on total yellow fleet VMT and the remaining fuel after gasoline and diesel usage were attributed to white fleet.

to employees for on-road business travel was used to estimate miles traveled for business. Standard mileage reimbursement rates from the IRS were used to estimate miles traveled.1

Emissions were calculated from total reimbursed mileage assuming that all DPS employee personal vehicles are powered by gasoline, are 50%

1 https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/standard-mileage-rates

97 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

passenger vehicles and 50% light duty vehicles, and that 10% of gasoline at the pump is ethanol. EPA fuel efficiencies were used to attribute mileage and fuel consumption to the appropriate vehicle and fuel types in alignment with emission factors.

Transaction data was used to identify dollars spent on other types of business travel. These data included all travel-related transactions and were not separated by type. Individual transaction descriptions in the data were used to flag transaction records as either air travel, rideshare, taxi, rental car, or charter bus. The data also included transactions for hotel bookings, conference fees, and other non-transportation related expenses. These transactions were not flagged and were excluded from calculations as they do not directly relate to a transportation activity. Transaction descriptions did not always include an identifiable description, so calculations may exclude transactions for transportation that were not labeled as such.

Total dollars spent on each travel type were summed for each fiscal year from the transaction data. Different methods were implemented to convert dollars spent on each travel type to miles traveled so emissions could be

calculated. For air travel, the average cost of a round trip domestic flight ($470) and the average distance of a business travel flight (816 miles) were used to estimate total passenger-miles traveled.1 Flights that are 816 miles are considered medium-haul flights, and corresponding emission factors for medium-haul flights in units of emissions per passenger-mile traveled from the EPA were used to calculate emissions.

The average cost per mile and the average distance traveled were used to estimate miles traveled from rental cars, taxis, rideshare, and charter buses. It was assumed that all rental cars, taxi, and rideshare travel were in gasolinepowered passenger vehicles. Charter buses were assumed to use diesel fuel. It was assumed that gasoline at the pump is 10% ethanol and diesel used by charter buses contained no biodiesel. Miles traveled and fuel consumed by each travel type were used to calculate other business travel emissions.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DPS had a mix of remote and in-person work during FY2021. It was assumed that during the first half of FY2021, 50% of DPS employees were in person and all 1 https://www.bts.gov/archive/publications/ america_on_the_go/us_business_travel/entire

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 98 Greenhouse Gas Inventory | APPENDIX

employees were in person during the second half of FY2021. Total FY2021 employee commute VMT was multiplied by 0.75 to account for remote work.

To calculate emissions based on total commute VMT from each fiscal year, it was assumed that all employee vehicles use gasoline, 10% of gasoline at the pump is ethanol, 50% of employee


Emissions from landfilled and composted waste and avoided emissions from recycling are calculated based on the total tons of waste produced. DPS does not track waste data by weight, but tracks the volume of waste bins and the number of sites where waste is picked up. Different methods were used to estimate waste, compost, and recycling weights for FY2016 and FY2021.

For FY2016, the City and County of Denver estimated tonnage for DPS in calendar year 2016. The City and County of Denver estimated tonnage for DPS from 2016 through 2018 based on the volume of waste bins; no actual weights were measured. No data was estimated for the first half of FY2016 (July 2015 – December 2015). DPS provided the number of sites that had waste pickups for each month in FY2016.

vehicles are passenger cars, and 50% are light-duty vehicles. EPA fuel efficiencies were used to estimate gallons of gasoline consumed for employee commuting. These assumptions were used to attribute VMT and fuel consumption to the appropriate vehicle and fuel types in alignment with emission factors.

To estimate tonnage for the missing months, the City and County of Denver waste estimates from January 2016 through June 2016 were used to calculate the average waste, compost, and recycling tonnage per pickup site. The site data for FY2016 and the average tonnage estimates were used to estimate total waste, compost, and recycling tonnage for FY2016.

For FY2021, no tonnage estimates from the City and County of Denver were available. Instead, the sites and frequency of pickups at each site were provided. The most recent calendar year where tonnage estimates from the City and County of Denver were available was 2018. 2018 tonnage data was used to estimate the average weight of waste, compost, and recycling per pickup. No pickup data was available in 2018.

99 • No Tag Line, Just Action.

2019 pickup data was used to estimate average weight per pickup in 2018. The average weight per pickup in 2018 was multiplied by the FY2021 site and pickup frequency data to get total waste, compost, and recycling weights in FY2021.

Different waste components have different emission factors. Waste characterization studies are often used to attribute total waste tonnage to different waste categories (plastic, metal, paper, etc.). No waste characterization study was available for DPS. The City and County of Denver’s waste characterization study was


Emissions from refrigerants were calculated based on the weight of refrigerant purchased by DPS in FY2021. The number of 30-pound refrigerant tanks purchased by DPS in FY2021 was used to calculate emissions. Refrigerant tanks can only be filled 80% full, so each tank was assumed to contain 22 pounds of refrigerant, which is 80% of 30 pounds plus a two pound buffer.

determined to not be applicable for DPS due to the likely differences in waste characteristics between a city and a school district. A mixed solid waste emission factor was used instead to estimate emissions for all waste as one category.

DPS’ waste is taken to the Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site (DADS) landfill in Aurora. This landfill has a gas collection system with an assumed collection efficiency of 75.

No refrigerant purchasing data was available for FY2016. To estimate refrigerant usage in FY2016, refrigerant usage was adjusted by square footage

of all DPS facilities. DPS uses the refrigerant R-22 which is currently being phased out and is considered an information-only item in the inventories. As such, refrigerant emissions are calculated but are not included in total DPS emissions.

Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 100 Greenhouse Gas Inventory | APPENDIX


The consumption sector can include a variety of sources relevant to an institution (food, paper, fertilizer, etc.). Only emissions from fertilizer consumption were calculated for DPS. Emissions from fertilizer were calculated based on the total weight of fertilizer applied and the nitrogen (N) percentage of each type of fertilizer applied. Total tonnage of fertilizer applied in spring of 2022 was the only fertilizer data available.

It was assumed that fertilizer consumption was the same for FY2016 and FY2021. Two fertilizers, one with 24% N and one with 19% N, were used by DPS. Total weight used was not split by fertilizer type, so the average N percentage was used to calculate fertilizer emissions.

Inventory spreadsheets also included a placeholder calculation for emissions from paper consumption. No paper usage data was available for these inventories but can be included in future years.

101 • No Tag Line, Just Action. APPENDIX | Greenhouse Gas Inventory


Climate Action Plan Denver Public Schools • 102
No tag line. Just action.
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.