SAN JOSE, Calif.— Yerba Buena High School (YBHS), part of East Side Union High School District, has been certified as the first AGZA Green ZoneHigh School in the United States. 

"Yerba Buena High School is honored to be selected as AGZA's first Green Zone high school in the country," said Tom Huynh, Yerba Buena High School Principal. "This effort complements our environmentally focused curricula in our engineering and architecture academies. I am grateful for the hard work put forth from our district, our school, and AGZA." 

An AGZA Green Zone is a defined property on which all routine grounds maintenance is performed with low-noise zero-emission battery-electric equipment. Green Zones slash noise pollution and completely eliminate toxic and carcinogenic emissions, greenhouse gases, solid waste, and soil and water contamination. AGZA Green Zones also eliminate the compounding expense of gas and oil, and dramatically reduce costs for maintenance and parts, resulting in a very healthy ROI and significant ongoing profitability over gas operations. 

"ESUHSD is proud to collaborate with AGZA as it highlights our continued commitment in providing a healthy and safe environment to students, staff, and community members," said Roger Silveira, Director of Facilities, Maintenance & Operations. 

The AGZA + YBHS collaboration began with the vision of Roger and support from ESUHSD’s Superintendent, Chris Funk. Roger had been integrally involved with Yerba Buena High School Principal Tom Huynh in the sustainability programs at the high school, including a student garden that provides food for the cafeteria, a large solar array covering the main parking lot, and the development of the student union. 

After a visit to the Yerba Buena campus by Dan Mabe, President of AGZA, Roger drafted a battery-electric equipment wish list which included the industry’s best-performing commercial-grade equipment from STIHL and Mean Green Mowers. He reached out to Brian Santo of Gardenland Power Equipment in Campbell, CA to fulfill the purchase order. 

But equipment is only part of the story, so the school district retained American Green Zone Alliance for expert guidance during the transition. 

American Green Zone Alliance developed AGZA Green ZoneCertification to be the most rigorous program for measuring and eliminating the serious health and environmental impacts of ongoing gas-powered landscape maintenance. The AGZA Green Zone protects all 30 serviceable acres of Yerba Buena's campus. 

With the AGZA Green Zone model proven at Yerba Buena, ESUHSD is turning its focus on converting the remaining 12 high school campuses to zero-emission sustainable equipment and operations as well. The last significant challenge is identifying and securing the financial resources to replace the gas equipment fleets. 

Based on funding successes strategized by AGZA and state air districts for previous AGZA Green Zone projects, AGZA and ESUHSD are optimistic California Air Resources Board and Bay Area AQMD can find and apply funding mechanisms to expand this program throughout the school district. Support from CARB and air districts on emissions reductions programs such as these have been proven to be highly cost effective in helping communities and air districts achieve their air quality attainment goals.