Sustainability Program

Duchesne’s sustainability efforts took root in the 2016-2017 school year following the May 2015 release of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and human ecology. At Duchesne, sustainability is not just an academic concept, but rather a community-wide commitment to improving the school and larger world in which we live. We are guided by the standards detailed in our Goals and Criteria, which call us to teach respect for creation and prepare our students to be good stewards of the earth's resources.

Sustainability Goals:

  • Zero waste by 2030
  • Net positive building emissions by 2030
  • A sustainable food system
  • Sustainability curriculum integration

Duchesne Academy is proud to be the leader in school sustainability initiatives among Omaha area schools. Some of Duchesne’s sustainability accomplishments include:

  • Hosted the first “Caring for Creation in Catholic Schools” Conference attended by over 50 students and educators from Omaha Catholic schools. (April 2019)
  • Recognized as the first school in the city of Omaha to launch a composting program. (September 2017)
  • Became the first school in Omaha to install a solar panel array which is capable of generating an average of 25kWh of electricity a day. (September 2019)
  • Recipient of an “Energy Star” rating from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2016, 2018, and 2019 with a current score of 91.
  • Recognized as one of only three schools in North and South America to earn a “Green Star” from the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s 2017 “Ignatian Carbon Challenge 2.0”.
  • Recognized by the French Embassy in the United States as one of three winners of the 2019 G7 Eco-Citizen contest for the school’s efforts to achieve “zero waste.”
  • Currently diverts waste away from the landfill and toward recycling and composting at a rate of 78%
  • Partnered with Goodwill Industries to host an electronics drive that collected 4,900 pounds of electronics for recycling (April 2018)
  • Collected over a half-ton of broken Christmas lights for recycling the past two Christmas seasons.
    The mostly plant-based school lunch program emphasizes sustainability and features locally grown fruits, vegetables, and eggs as well as produce from the school garden. 
U.S. Secretary of Education Names Duchesne Academy 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School

The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday that Duchesne Academy is among the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees.

Duchesne’s sustainability accomplishments include:
• Installing a solar panel array
• Recycling or composting 78% of all waste
• Using food grown on campus in lunches
• Earning a 91 Energy Star Rating for building efficiency

“Duchesne is committed to being a leader in school sustainability and it’s a challenge our students have embraced. I am proud that sustainability is not a novelty or separate program at Duchesne, it is how we live and learn,” said Head of School Meg Brudney.
“Our classes use less paper, we grow more of our own food, and we’re finding new ways to teach sustainable principles in our classes,” said Assistant Principal Eric Krakowski, who is the school’s Sustainability Program Coordinator.
“We believe incorporating sustainable practices into classes and activities now will empower our students to be leaders in a world increasingly aware of the need to reduce waste,” Brudney said.
Across the country, 39 schools, 11 districts, and five postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 27 states. The selectees include 28 public schools, including three magnet schools and four charter schools, as well as 11 nonpublic schools.
The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 55 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.

Duchesne awarded Energy Star Certification

Duchesne Academy was recently awarded an Energy Star certification from the US Environmental Protection Agency for 2019. The Energy Star program recognizes buildings of all types for their energy efficiency and for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Duchesne currently has an incredible Energy Star score of 91 out of 100. For some perspective, this is a percentile score and means that of all K-12 school buildings across the US of comparable size and age that participate in Energy Star, we are more energy-efficient than all but 9% of them. Not bad for a building whose construction began in 1881!
A minimum score of 75 is required to attain Energy Star certification. This marks the third time Duchesne has received this honor. For more information about the Energy Star program and for tips on how you can become more energy efficient at home, click here.
If you have any questions about the sustainability program at Duchesne, please contact:

Mr. Eric Krakowski
Assistant Principal and Exchange Coordinator