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Success Story: Creekside Elementary School

[+] EnlargeCreekside Elementary School

Earth Hero at School Award

David Holbrook receives the King County award in April 2011.

[+] EnlargeCreekside Elementary School

Student Waste Watchers

[+] EnlargeCreekside Elementary School

Students in action

Waste Watchers oversee cafeteria recycling

School District: Issaquah
School Location: Sammamish
Began Participating in the Green Schools Program: September 2010

Level One of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in November 2010
Level Two of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in May 2011
Level Three of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in May 2012


  • Creekside Elementary opened its doors in September 2010. The new building is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified.
  • The new school has a garden plot that uses products made from recycled materials.
  • The Waste Watcher program, run by custodian Dave Holbrook and program assistant Judy Bowlby, has 75 students as of May 2012 who monitor lunchroom recycling containers. The Waste Watcher program empowers students to oversee garbage, recycling and food scrap containers during lunch, assuring that items are placed in the proper containers.

Waste Reduction and Recycling

  • Creekside has a comprehensive recycling program and a recycling rate of 67 percent.
  • In addition to classroom recycling, custodian Dave Holbrook started the school year with a lunchroom recycling program which includes cans, bottles, cartons, food scraps and other compostable materials.
  • Dave Holbrook uses teachable moments in the lunchroom on a daily basis to remind students about proper recycling and composting behaviors.
  • With PTSA coordination, Creekside Elementary participates in TerraCycle’s Capri Sun Juice Pouch Brigade. The pouches are made into bags, clipboards, pencil cases, waste baskets and fences.
  • In 2011, the student leadership group developed a movie about recycling that was shown school-wide.
  • The school librarian reads recycling-focused books to all classes.
  • The staff workroom has a paper reuse box for one-sided paper.
  • Classrooms collect and use “GOOS” paper which is “good on one side.”
  • Construction paper re-use containers are available in the work rooms.
  • School and PTSA communication is sent electronically to reduce paper use.
  • In spring 2011, a first grade classroom made a class book of how they reduce, reuse and recycle. One of the students made a video recording to demonstrate how she reduces, reuses and recycles at home.
  • The student Green Team picks up waste as part of a campus-wide clean up during recess.
  • In 2012, as part of a Girl Scout Gold Award project, a high school student created s igns in the lunchroom to show which items can be composted and recycled, and which items must be placed in garbage containers.

Energy Conservation

  • Automatic light sensors are in all regularly occupied rooms. Classrooms discuss the auto light system so students are aware of the technology.
  • Shields are present in all classrooms to reflect light into the room and the lights are automatically turned off when an adequate amount of light is present.
  • The Issaquah School District provides a software system that automatically shuts down school computers in the evenings to save energy.
  • In 2011, fifth grade students read a Time for Kids on energy conservation, then wrote  summaries using elaboration skills or giving examples.
  • First grade students engage in lessons about water and energy consumption at home and explore how to save materials in their classroom such as using pencils, crayons, glue, etc. until they are completely used up.
  • Creekside has a well-publicized no idling policy that applies to all vehicles, including school buses.
  • Eighty-two percent of Creekside students ride the bus to school.

Water Conservation and Pollution Prevention

  • Students read “green tips” in morning announcements including information on water conservation to raise awareness.
  • A vegetable garden and multiple rain gardens are installed throughout the school.
  • In 2012, a high school student working on her Girl Scout Gold Award recognition worked with fifth grade students to create a walking educational field trip on school grounds to explore the school’s rain gardens and natural growth areas.
  • Custodian Dave Holbrook and the after-school student Otter Club measured the flow of all school faucets and confirmed that faucets are low flow, allowing only a half-gallon of water to flow per minute.
  • All sinks have low-flow aerators, and toilets and urinals are low-flow fixtures.
  • A fifth grade student calculated pervious versus impervious surfaces on school grounds and presented the results to the fifth grade classroom.
  • Twenty-nine percent of the asphalt on school grounds is water permeable, which allows rainwater to be absorbed into the ground, rather than run into a storm drain.
  • The irrigation system adjusts watering time based on weather conditions.


  • Creekside Elementary won the Washington Green Leader School award for Pillar One (environmental impact, including waste reduction, recycling, water conservation and energy efficiency) in March 2012.
  • Creekside received the Terry Husseman 2011 Sustainable School Award which the school used to sustain its Waste Watchers program.
  • Custodian Holbrook received a King County Earth Hero at School award in April 2011.

For more information about this school’s conservation achievements and participation in the Green Schools Program, contact:

Judy Bowlby, program assistant
Dave Holbrook, head custodian

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Updated: Sep. 25, 2012

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