Sustainability

Our tradition of deep connection to nature is finding new expression as we remake our campus into a model of sustainability.

Deep regard for the great outdoors has always been at the core of who we are—walking the trails at dusk, scaling a climb you thought impossible, mucking out a horse stall early in the morning. Today more than ever, living sustainably is an essential part of that ethos. Thacher strives to be a leader in sustainable practices and to equip and inspire our students to take action, develop bold solutions, and act as lifelong stewards of the planet.

Indeed, Thacher was recently named a Green Achiever in the California Green Ribbon Schools recognition program, the highest honor at the state level, and went on to earn an official designation as a 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School alongside other sustainability-minded schools from around the nation. Both programs recognize excellence in resource efficiency, health and wellness, and environmental and sustainability education.

Our Projects

List of 11 items.

  • Solar Array

    Thacher's new 2,898 panel, 745 kilowatt system generates more than 90 percent of the School’s electricity, about 1.22 million kilowatts per year. Click here for a live dashboard showing current and historical power production. 
  • Green Cup Challenge

    Every February, Thacher’s 220 boarding students shorten showers, dim lights, lower thermostats, and recycle more trash as they vie for the title of greenest dorm. This friendly competition empowers students, builds community, and raises awareness about climate change and the importance of resource conservation.
  • Hog Program

    Over the past four years, several generations of well-tended porkers have completed the loop in our community’s food cycle by feeding on Dining Hall food scraps and eventually becoming food themselves. In addition to reducing waste, this program affords students a crucial firsthand glimpse into food systems.
  • Beekeeping

    Thacher’s student-powered Beekeeping Program supports a healthy, productive colony of local bees that pollinate campus plants and have supplied the community with more than 90 pounds of honey.
  • Horse Manure Composting

    Thacher recently completed construction of a manure and food waste composting facility, funded in part by the Will J. Reid Foundation. Instead of trucking the 1,200 tons of manure produced annually by Thacher’s 130 horses off campus, we compost it on-site for use as mulch on our pastures, fruit trees, and landscaping in order to slow soil erosion, build soil organic matter, improve plant health, and reduce water usage.
  • Water Conservation

    As California works to meet a mandated 25 percent reduction in water usage, Thacher has managed to double that figure. Campus water usage is tracking at 48 percent, less than half of usage rates from recent years. Water conservation projects include: low-flow devices installed in dorms and faculty homes, upgraded irrigation systems, selective watering, the use of graywater from our dormitory laundry machines to irrigate trees (saving up to 550,000 gallons of water annually), and the installation of a water-conserving, state-of-the-art athletic field at the Upper Field, which uses about 40 percent less water than a traditional field.
  • Rainwater Catchment

    A recent grant allowed Thacher to host a greywater workshop for 30 technicians from all over California. The class’s practical project was the design and installation of a 5,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system for half of one of the barn roofs. The program continues to expand, with a catchment system recently added to the Los Padres sophomore boys dorm, and plans to install rainwater harvesting systems on every Horse Program area roof, which, with just a 3-inch rain, have the potential to collect all the water the Horse Program uses in a year (600,000 gallons).
  • Community Outreach Program

    The Environmental Action Committee (EAC) is committed to connecting, collaborating, and exchanging ideas with other schools and environmental organizations in the Ojai Valley and beyond. Through the Community Outreach Program they’ve scheduled beach clean-ups, organized creek-bed weed eradication, adopted a section of the Ojai Bike Path, and more.
  • Transportation Fleet

    Thacher recently made changes to its transportation fleet in an effort to significantly increase energy efficiency. The School partnered with Enterprise Fleet Leasing and Maintenance Services, leasing a new fleet of SUVs and two pluggable hybrids. By leasing rather than owning, Thacher can regularly upgrade to the most recent, high-mileage SUV models, cutting down on the amount of fuel used. In the same vein, the new C-Max Energi hybrid vehicles will improve our fuel efficiency from 13.9 mpg to 32 mpg. For the same fleet miles driven, the changes represent just over a 50% reduction in transportation greenhouse emissions.
  • The Swale

    The 2012–13 Kumana Prize-winning student team made it their goal to rejuvenate Carpenter’s Orchard, an increasingly desiccated six acres on campus that were being used for horse paddocks. This student effort helped establish runoff protection needed to allow the broadcast of compost from our new manure composting project. The first compost was spread in May 2015.
  • Chickens

    Students and faculty built the campus coop that is now home to a brood of 17 healthy hens. The chickens diet includes surplus scraps of food from the Dining Hall and they, in turn, provide fresh, sustainably-produced eggs to the community every week.  

—Casey

An invaluable part of Thachers approach to sustainability is the opportunity students have to take on hands-on projects and receive incredible support from the faculty. Ive treasured the opportunities Ive had to learn new skills, to translate my math and physics experience into the engineering of new projects, and to be outside, whether that be in building a chicken coop, constructing a rainwater catchment system, or caring for Thachers bees and hogs.

Playa Vista, California

Sustainability Projects Campus Map

Sustainability News

A coeducational college preparatory boarding high school
The Thacher School
5025 Thacher Road
Ojai, California, 93023

Tel : 805-646-4377
Fax: 805-646-9490
Email: info@thacher.org