SUSTAINABILITY AND GREEN PRACTICES
Olathe Chamber of Commerce
The Olathe Chamber of Commerce has formed a special task force and has begun an Environmental Sustainability program that will encourage businesses to adopt best green practices. It is developing a business-oriented first-time event: “Olathe Celebrates Earth Day,” (provide link) which will provide Olatheans with a chance to recycle e-waste, shred documents, check gas cap emissions, recycle ink and toner cartridges, paper, plastic, and aluminum, and other environment-friendly activities. It is also developing a page on the Chamber’s Web site to provide tips on environmentally-healthy workplaces and to promote member awards and activities in this area.
Olathe's Major Green Initiatives
Olathe leads the state of Kansas in the number of LEEDs certified and registered buildings. In fact, the City’s Municipal Services building was the first municipal building in Kansas and the Kansas City metropolitan area to receive a “Green” certification through the LEED national building rating system.
The City has addressed air quality in a variety of ways: using cleaner fuels in City vehicles, incorporating hybrid electric vehicles, retrofitting older diesel engines with diesel oxidation catalysts, testing City and residents’ gas caps for emissions, and using bio-enzyme part washer to replace solvent-based cleaning systems. Additionally, the City has embarked on several transportation efforts that have eased traffic congestion and benefited the environment. The Train Track Elevation at four crossings west of I-35 eliminated motorists waiting with car engines idling, saving an estimated 580 hours each day. This savings, with its positive effect on air quality, prompted the Mid-America Regional Council to allocate $600,000 in federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funds for the project.
More than 12,000 tons of yard waste are diverted from the waste stream each year through the City’s Yard Waste Program. The yard waste materials collected from residents are taken to the City’s Composting Facility for processing, and the finished products, compost and wood chip mulch, are offered back to the community for reuse.
The City of Olathe offers year-round opportunities for residents to properly dispose of HHW items, free of charge, including pool chemicals, lawn and garden chemicals, household cleaners, home improvement products, and automotive products. The City provides a number of recycling sites across the community, and its “Bin and Win” curbside recycling allows residents to recycle curbside. For a modest fee, residents can recycle old computers, televisions, and small appliances through the City’s E-Waste Recycling Program or recycle a Christmas tree by dropping it off at designated parks.
In 2006, a $245,000 Clean Water Act Grant was awarded to the City of Olathe from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for education and activities to protect Lake Olathe’s watershed. The funding allowed the City to cost-share with developers for water quality studies required of all new developments in the watershed and provide construction and design of low impact development practices and stormwater management techniques.
Through newsletters, flyers, brochures, and special events the City encourages residents to be good environmental stewards. Topics range from conserving water and storm drain stewardship to use of chemicals and picking up pet waste.
For more on the city's green initiatives, click here.
Olathe District Schools
Olathe District Schools has been highly successful in energy savings despite significant growth. It has received no fewer than 15 Energy Star Awards for efficient buildings and over the last 16 years has accrued $14.7 million in decreased energy costs. The square footage of the district has increased by 101 percent over the last 16 years, while the consumption of electricity has only increased 49 percent during the same time period. Natural gas usage has increased only 13 percent. Electricity usage accounts for 73 percent of the total utility budget, and natural gas makes up 19 percent. The District estimates that the energy reduction impact is equal to removing 39,000 cars from the road or planting more than 81,000 acres of trees.
Through the Olathe School District’s 21st Century program, Olathe North High School has undertaken a geoscience project providing rain barrels to community members and educating Olatheans about rain gardens. Olathe South High School is involved in recycling efforts in the schools and has worked to educate a K.C. Harley Davidson about recycling waste. The school district has partnered with the City of Olathe to place cardboard recycling containers at 39 schools. In addition, several schools are piloting a compostable lunch tray program to replace Styrofoam trays. The City’s Solid Waste Department takes the compostable trays, grinds them up, and recycles them as compost for city project and for individual Olatheans.