SACRAMENTO, Calif-- In another “green” first for the state of California, the California Department of General Services’ Division of the State Architect today announced the winners of the first-ever Grid Neutral Awards for K–12 schools that have shown leadership in energy efficiency, on-site alternative energy generation, and environmental responsibility.

The term “grid neutral” refers to a school campus that generates as much electrical energy as it uses in one year. The awards, announced at the 2010 California Green Schools Summit in Pasadena, honored two school districts in the categories of Distinguished Campus, District-wide Excellence, and Exemplary Teaching Tool.

The Yuba City Unified School District won the Distinguished Campus award for its outstanding integration of energy demand-reduction and peak-energy saving strategies; use of energy efficient heating/cooling/lighting systems; and renewable power generation at Riverbend K-8 School.

The Milpitas Unified School District won both the District-wide Excellence award and the Exemplary Teaching Tool award for its installation of a solar power photovoltaic system on stand-alone campus structures; the use of solar power purchase agreements to finance the power system; the integration of a solar power curriculum for students; and, sustainable professional development opportunities for teachers.

“What a tremendous job these school district are doing in leading the way with green innovations in our public schools," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I love that our schools are integrating green design to achieve energy savings and preserve natural resources while also educating students on alternative energy solutions. It's fantastic."

California’s Grid Neutral Schools Initiative was developed in response to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2004 Green Building Executive Order (S-20-04) which encourages schools to be resource- and energy-efficient.

In 2008, the Division of the State Architect, in partnership with other government agencies and local school districts, developed a step-by-step guide to help California schools and community colleges achieve grid neutrality by cutting energy costs through on-site electricity generation and increased energy efficiency.