Environmental Sustainability

Realizing that our greatest impact is through our students, we developed a sustainability vision statement to focus our work.

A Touchstone for Environmental Practices

August 29, 2016

In response to ecological threats and at the request of the Head of School, we the undersigned have composed and offer to the Catlin Gabel School community, this touchstone, articulating our commitment to the “social responsibility and sustainability” mentioned in our 2016 Strategic Plan.


A Touchstone for Environmental Practices

Catlin Gabel School


  1. 1.     We acknowledge that we are rooted in and dependent upon nature and that we are responsible for protecting nature for future generations.
  2. 2.     We recognize that human-induced climate change is an urgent threat that requires immediate and extensive action.
  3. 3.     We engage as a community in challenging discussions, examining how our social and economic decisions have profound environmental impacts from the local to the global.
  4. 4.     We act as individuals and as a community, responding with bold solutions to our planet’s environmental problems, while fostering student-generated initiatives and supporting their roles as future leaders.
  5. 5.     In continued pursuit of best practices, we assess the effectiveness of our actions by collecting and analyzing data while allowing new discoveries to shift our thinking and behavior.
  6. 6.     We foster resilience and gratitude to support our community as we work through the inevitable discomfort that arises when having challenging discussions and enacting positive changes.


Drafted by Beth Merrill, Patrick Walsh, Keola Edelen Hare ’23, Carter Latendresse, Fiona Rayne ’22, Maxine Bauer, Alison Ward ’99, Maya Rayle ’18, Aline Garcia-Rubio ’93, Ann Fyfield, Veronica Ledoux, Sabin Ray ’11, Jeff Wujek, Jesse Lowes, Jeffrey Burt ’22, Zoe Edelen Hare, Haley Bernard ’19, Emma Latendresse ’20, Liko Edelen Hare ’25, and Eamon Walsh ’20


Stand-Alone Kid Friendly Rewrite (written by Lower, Middle and Upper School students)

  1. 1.     We are part of nature. We need to protect living things and their homes to keep ourselves and our planet safe.
  2. 2.     We agree climate change is an issue that we need to fight now.
  3. 3.     We talk about these problems, even when it is hard, to help Catlin Gabel, Portland, and the world.  
  4. 4.     We as students should work together to help our community and our environment.
  5. 5.     We measure our efforts to make our school more Earth friendly.  
  6. 6.     We know climate change can be sad to talk about, but we must bounce back to create positive change.


Drafted by Keola Edelen Hare ’23, Maya Rayle ’18, Jeffrey Burt ’22, Emma Latendresse ’20, Liko Edelen Hare ’25, and Eamon Walsh ’20



Vision & Guiding Principles

Catlin Gabel commits itself to becoming a sustainable school by:

  • Educating students to develop the wisdom, vision and drive to create a sustainable society
  • Modeling sustainable practices throughout the school
  • Inspiring others to join with us in our commitment to sustainability

Guiding Principles & System Conditions

  • Eliminate our contribution to systematically increasing concentrations of substances extracted from the Earth's crust.
  • Eliminate our contribution to systematically increasing concentrations of substances produced by society.
  • Eliminate our contribution to the physical degradation of nature.
  • Eliminate our contribution to the creation of barriers that keep people from meeting their human needs.


Sustainability was a shared core value that came out of our Imagine 2020 Conference in 2006 that included 70 stakeholders in the Catlin Gabel School community. Participants spent many hours going over what we felt our students most needed to be responsible citizens in our future world.

In 2007, 45 members of the school community, including staff, faculty, students, parents, and alumni, were trained in the Natural Step process that encourages systems-thinking to create the conditions for profound change to occur. This process has been used by a number of businesses and colleges and is part of a global effort to inspire organizations to work together to build a sustainable society. We formed topic teams for each system component of the School:

  • Administration: Green vs. Sustainable - Triple Bottom Line
  • Education:
  • Extra-curricular:
  • Facilities:
  • Food Service:
  • Technology:
  • Transportation:

Purpose and Goals

Winter 2016

During the summer of 2016, a diverse group of Catlin Gabel School students, alumni, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators met to discuss our institutional response to the environmental challenges of our time. Recognizing the magnitude of the climate crisis and our school’s lack of a centralized structure for engaging with issues related to environment and sustainability, we are creating the Environmental Advisory Council to assist with this need. 

Catlin Gabel School has already pledged itself to ambitious environmental goals. As stated in our Vision and Guiding Principles, our community has committed to “Educating students to develop the wisdom, vision, and drive to create a sustainable society” and has voiced our desire to “Eliminate our contribution to the physical degradation of nature.” The 2016 Strategic Plan reiterates Catlin Gabel School’s intention to “focus on social responsibility and sustainability in the Portland community.” The Environmental Advisory Council initiative is an effort to build on these goals in a measurable, meaningful way.

As a school, we support “inspired learning leading to responsible action,” and we believe that this applies to all members of our community as well as to our physical environment. We recognize that human-induced climate change is an urgent threat that requires immediate and extensive action. As an educational institution, it is our responsibility to respond to this challenge within our curriculum, within our institution, and within the broader economic and political world in meaningful and measurable ways.

With our school’s mission and new Strategic Plan priorities in mind, our initial research and recommendations will center on three important goals:

  1. 1.     Create comprehensive measurement of Catlin Gabel School’s carbon emissions, set meaningful goals for emissions reduction, and pursue those goals schoolwide;
  2. 2.     Create a coherent K-12 climate literacy curriculum;
  3. 3.     Research the process of divesting the school’s endowment from fossil fuels


Our hope for the Environmental Advisory Council reflects our hope for the school as a whole: namely, that we foster resilience and gratitude to support our community as we work through the inevitable discomfort that arises when having challenging discussions and enacting positive changes. We are excited by the opportunity for Catlin Gabel School to act as a leader within the Northwest Association of Independent Schools on these issues and encourage a community-wide movement. Coordination with other schools for a just and sustainable future is at the core of an effective social movement to combat climate change and environmental degradation.

The Environmental Advisory Council will work throughout the year as a cross-constituent group to support these environmental initiatives, and we welcome any community member who wishes to join with us.



Aline Garcia-Rubio ’93

Alison Ward ’99

Ann Fyfield

Beth Merrill

Carter Latendresse

Cassandra Dickson

Eamon Walsh ’20

Emma Latendresse ’20

Fiona Rayne ’22

Haley Bernard ’19

Jeff Wujek

Jeffrey Burt ’22

Jesse Lowes

Keola Edelen Hare ’23

Lewis Fitzgerald-Holland ’14

Liko Edelen Hare ’25

Maxine Bauer

Maya Rayle ’18

Patrick J. Walsh

Sabin Ray ’11

Tim Bazemore

Tom Tucker ’66

Veronica Ledoux

Zoe Edelen Hare






Education for Sustainability: Environmental & Social Literacy

Teaching our students to be stewards of our earth may be the most important thing we do if we wish to ensure that future generations have a quality of life.

Catlin Gabel joins others around the world who are updating curriculum to include essential notions of sustainability while at the same time trying to model sustainable practices on our campus and in our school lives.

"Inspired learning leads to responsible action." How can our students know they can make a difference?

Education for Environmental & Social Literacy

Energy, Natural Resources & Eco-System Services

Energy: Catlin Gabel School Campus Energy Dashboard - Energy History 2000-2016

  • Electricity
  • Natural Gas
  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Motor fuel

Natural Resources: and natural assets called Eco-System Services

Sustainability Indicators:

  • Energy: Total consumption in MMBTUs
  • Energy: Ratio of renewable energy to non-renewable energy
  • Groundwater: Water level in aquifer wells
  • Land Use: Percent of impervious surface
  • Tree Canopy: Percent of total canopy cover



Environmental Health and Safety

Environmental Health

Nutrition and Fitness

Emergency Preparedness

  • 100% of School buildings are out of the flood plain


Purchasing - Materials Resource Management

Catlin Gabel commits itself to becoming a sustainable school by modeling sustainable practices throughout the school. The school is tracking the following sustainable purchasing practices:

Status of Sustainable Practices

  • Admissions: Applications for admissions are taken online. Student handbook and student directory is online.
  • Cleaning Products: 95% of products are Green Seal, Sustainable Earth or DfE certified.
  • Communications: Alumni communications, all-School news and division newsletters are electronic.
  • Copy Paper: 30% post-consumer content (FSC & Green Seal certified)
  • Curriculum: End-of-year student reports and student transcripts are online.
  • Employment: Job applications and reference letters are taken online. Employee handbook and directory are online.
  • Facial Tissue: 10% post-consumer content (Green by Design)
  • Paper Towels (singlefold): 100% recycled fiber; 40% post-consumer content (Ecologo)
  • Paint (latex): Miller Paint Acro-Pure Zero VOC (Green Seal Certified)
  • Paper Towels (Cormatic Roll): 100% recycled fiber; 40% post-consumer content (Ecologo)
  • ProTeam Intercept Micro Filter bags: Green Label Certified
  • Technology: Equipment End of Life -

Recognition of Progress

Oregon Sustainable School Award 2012

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Recognition

Tualatin Valley Water District - 2011 Water Hero Award TVWD News Release

Social Sustainability

Community Needs

Social Justice - Responsibility - Equity

Community Partnerships - Family Participation


Zero Waste

Waste as an indicator is at the heart of sustainability in a practical measurable way.

Total Campus Waste: Total Waste Chart 2015-16


Landfill contributions:

  • Benchmark [2006-2007]: 65 tons
  • Year One [2007-2008]: Actual: 46.35 tons
  • Year Two [2008-2009]: Actual: 32.49 tons
  • Year Three [2009-2010]: Actual: 30.48 tons
  • Year Four [2010-2011]: Actual: 27.02 tons
  • Year Five [2011-2012]: Actual: 28.6 tons
  • Year Six [2012-2013]: Actual: 30.32 tons
  • Year Seven [2013-14]: Actual: 30.23 tons
  • Year Eight [2014-15]: Actual: 31.92 tons
  • Year Nine [2015-16]: Actual: 32.92 tons


Landfill Trend 1999-2000 to 2015-2016

Comprehensive Recycling Plan 2014-15

An independent preschool through 12th grade day school in Portland, Oregon
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Portland, Oregon 97225 |
503-297-1894 |

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