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Manzo ES named Arizona's Greenest Workplace by panel of statewide sustainability advocates

Posted October 2, 2013

Manzo Elementary School has been named Arizona's Greenest Workplace by Mrs. Green's World, a voice for global sustainability on the World Radio Network.

A four-judge panel of statewide sustainability advocates honored the school community for its success in the "three R's" of sustainability: reducing, reusing, and recycling.

"One of my favorite initiatives at Manzo is the program that connects kids to nature and to their food sources," said Gina Murphy-Darling, a.k.a. Mrs. Green. "Beyond the garden, students and their families are active participants in several green programs including green entrepreneurship."

In their nomination form, representatives from the school wrote that, "Through a sustainability education program, Manzo seeks to both close the achievement gap and nurture the whole child. Hands-on, project-based learning in the areas of recycling, composting, and food production give students an authentic context for learning and practicing standards-based curriculum."

The Manzo community reduces its carbon footprint through school-wide energy efficiency and rainwater harvesting. Students on the Energy Patrol spend recess time conducting daily energy audits, watching for lights left on in empty rooms and unused computers with monitors turned on. A comparison of 2012 and 2013 electric bills shows that their efforts helped save $6,000 in utility bills.

Rainwater harvesting allows Manzo to reduce municipal water usage. With 16 rain water harvesting tanks across campus, the school has the capacity to harvest 17,000 gallons. The school's natural landscape and gardens are irrigated with harvested rainwater.

At Manzo, "reusing" takes on new meaning, as the school's 14 hens consume 15-20 pounds of food waste daily while producing free range eggs for the Manzo community. Composting also reuses food waste. Over the 2012-2013 school year, Manzo composted over three tons of food waste, an activity which both reuses and recycles.

The school's Energy Patrol members help with the school's recycling efforts, emptying recycling bins during recess. All students participate in sorting lunch-time recyclables.

The healthy food produced by Manzo's chickens and gardens are a resource for the school community. "Manzo's school gardens provide students and families, a demographic over-represented in obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, access to affordable fresh produce," wrote a school representative in the nomination form.

Manzo is active in community education, hosting community workshops on energy conservation, recycling, composting, and gardening. In the past year, the campus has been a favorite stop on local tours: the Tucson Chicken Coop Tour, Watershed Management Group Site Tour, Closing the Hunger Gap Tour, National Aquaponics Convention Tour, and the Climate Southwest Tour.

Over the past year, Manzo has also been named one of two Best K-12 Green Schools in the nation by the U.S. Green Building Council's Center for Green Schools (see the In the Spotlight story for more information) and has been featured in Sept.-Oct. 2013 Edible magazine.

For more information, see Manzo's nomination form for the Arizona's Greenest Workplace.


 Photo of wildflowers ready for transplant
Poppies are ready for transplant into the school garden.
 Photo of desert habitat
The courtyard habitat provides home for a desert tortoise.
 Photo of water harvesting
Water harvesting helps irrigate the school gardens.